I was looking at some YouTube videos this morning of the scene in Saint Martin, which the eye of category 5 Hurricane Irma passed over a couple of days ago, trying to assess how much work was going to be needed to be done to recover from it. A couple of snapshots:
I’d half expected to see every building with its roof missing and its windows blown out. But, as far as I could see, most buildings had survived pretty much intact. It was just that, here and there, one or two – which looked like they were pretty flimsy to start with – had been demolished.
I also didn’t see telephone or power cables strewn over the streets. That suggested that they were mostly underground, and that the water and electricity and telephone supply network was intact.
Clearly there was a lot of work to be done clearing pieces of debris from the streets, and demolishing half-demolished buildings., and chopping up fallen trees. There was probably a strong demand for roof tiles and window glass, and they’d be almost unobtainable.
The impression I had was that life was going to be harder for everybody on the island. It would take longer to go from one place to another while some streets remained blocked with fallen trees, or closed due to dangerous structures. But a volunteer army could probably clear the streets in a few days, and demolish most unsafe buildings. There might be a market for newly-valuable roof tiles off demolished buildings, as everything was cannibalised and re-used as far as possible.
It looked to me like life might almost be back to normal in a couple of months, and much of what had been demolished would have been rebuilt after 6 months, once shipments of tiles and timber and glass (already on order) had arrived.
And when Irma arrives over eastern Florida tomorrow, with slightly lower wind speeds, it’ll probably do slightly less damage over a much larger area. Everyone in Florida will have to work harder, but not for quite as long as on Saint Martin.
But that’s just a guess. Recovery may take longer when homes have been flooded (which doesn’t seem to have happened in Saint Martin), and many possessions lost or rendered unusable.
Looked at using the same perspective, smoking bans are like natural disasters for smokers. Life gets harder for them. If once they could light up a cigarette more or less wherever they were, they now have to “step outside” for one, perhaps having to walk for 10 minutes to find somewhere.
And, much like in Saint Martin where many people are having to go without all sorts of things (just one coffee a day, courtesy of your next door neighbour, rather than the usual five?), smokers may be reduced to five cigarettes a day, rather than the 20 cigarettes a day they’d like.
And, just like roof tiles in Saint Martin, cigarettes are getting more and more expensive, which means more work must be done to buy a cigarette, as well as to smoke it.
And as smoking restrictions intensify, life only ever gets harder for smokers. There is no recovery.