The Aussies Know How to Do It!

Winter 2005 CSANews Issue 57  |  Posted date : May 25, 2007.Back to list

Wow! What a year 2005 was for tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes in the southern United States, and yes, even in some of Canada's provinces. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent to repair the damage, and it will take years to fix. And let's not forget the countless number of lives lost to these storms due to an inadequate response and poor evacuation plans.

It's hard to believe that hurricane and tornado-prone states haven't implemented stricter building codes over the years. Yes, the codes have become tougher, but obviously not tough enough. Whenever a mention is made (usually after a disaster) by someone to improve things, building contractors and their lobbyists come out of the woodwork (pun intended) to make sure that things aren't changed too much – it might hurt their pocketbooks.

A friend of mine, Wally Sokolowski from Barrie, Ontario, who winters in Palm City on Florida's east coast near Stuart, has become a strong advocate to have the state change their policy for dealing with storm damage. In a recent letter to the Florida legislature, he stated that he cannot believe the lack of a suitable and effective risk-management program for building codes. I agree with him because I live year-round in Florida and can see how inadequate the infrastructure is. Just take a look at the number of old trailer-type homes, homes that a high wind can blow away like matchsticks.

According to Wally, who visited Australia last summer, they have had a building code for many years that requires all homes, including little 700- square-foot ones, to have a steel roof. A long time ago, the Aussies figured out that asphalt shingles could not stand up to hurricane winds and if you lose the integrity of your roof, you can probably write your house off even if the sheathing and trusses are intact.

Congratulations to the folks from "down under," or should I say "Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!"

How to change the subject!
While I was taking a phone order for placemats from a Canadian gal last summer, she abruptly started to tell me how "disappointed" she was with Canadians. Ouch, that hurts, so I asked her why? "I'm disappointed with them because of their bad attitude towards the American people," she said. I prefer to avoid political chats because they can get you into trouble, but I just couldn't pass on this one, so I asked her to explain. Wrong! She continued to tell me that we should have done more to support the Iraq war, even send troops! She wanted to know how I felt about this, ouch again!

I didn't want to get into this kind of discussion, so I quickly changed the subject by asking her, "how many placemats do you want?" "About 200," she said, and then continued to tell me what a lovely "patriotic" service the CSA and Medipac provided with the free dinner table placemats proudly showing the crossed Friendship Flags and the words to each country's national anthem. My strategy worked and we concluded our chat with a cheerful goodbye.

I told you so!
In the summer issue of CSANews, I gave you some facts about FEMA, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and its poor handling of disaster relief for victims of the 2004 hurricanes. Well, I was proven right; the agency once again failed the test in the early weeks after Hurricane Katrina. I'm not always right, but I'm seldom wrong, right?

Sauna Suits!
I have received several phone calls inquiring about my rare skin disease, Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris (PRP). Most of the calls were requesting information about "sauna suits" for people with skin diseases. The suits help to keep the steroid and lubricating ointments on your skin; they are made from lightweight nylon and won't absorb the ointments like cotton or other fabrics. Believe me, it's better than staining your good clothes. I wore the suit for three hours twice daily for four months and it really helped. I no longer wear the suit nor use greasy ointments – just a moisturizing cream three times a day.