Hurricanes are horrible no matter where they hit or how well a place prepares for their impact. Nevertheless, that being said, the better prepared a landfall location is for a monster storm, the more likely that it will bounce back quickly in its aftermath. The ability of an area affected by disaster to bounce-back is dependent on how free the place is, economically and politically. An example of this principle is the preparedness of Florida versus Cuba for Hurricane Irma.
As Irma brushed-by Cuba on Saturday evening, the then-category 5 storm caused catastrophic wind and wave damage, which flooded many seaside towns. Given the dismal state of the Cuban economy, after decades of Castro dictatorship, structures were poorly prepared for such an onslaught and the island’s inhabitants scarcely have the resources to start-over after the storm. The lack of political and economic freedom has turned Cuba from an island of opportunity to an enclave of deprivation.
Fast forward to Florida, where Irma’s wrath continued unabated Sunday afternoon. Ironically, in a state known as a refuge for people fleeing Cuba for freedom will almost certainly weather this storm better than its southern neighbor. Private property rights and free-market economics have supported Florida’s continual efforts to hurricane-proof itself. The very fact that people have the ability in America to own their own property has incentivized individuals and companies to invest funds into continual improvements to protect their assets. This contributes not only to the preservation of property, but to the saving of many lives.
After Irma passes, another mark of a free society will be on full display: private recovery efforts. While we certainly have FEMA and other first responders, which do heroic work, the vast majority of recovery work and funding comes from the private sector in our nation. This sense of generosity and community, which is common in our country, helps bring back afflicted areas faster than in any other country on Earth.
While natural disasters are terrible everywhere, and loss of life is always a tragedy, if one has to endure a natural disaster, there is no better place to ride it out than in America. When disaster strikes in other parts of the world, America is also always ready to lend a helping hand. Only freedom can create such promise in the face of such pain.