Natural disasters have a way of reminding us that we are not as in control of this world as we would like to believe. Being a person who lived through the Mississippi flood of 1993, I know what it is like to go through the war zone of a town getting ready to battle heavy rains. Weary men and women work to fill sandbags, building up walls in hope of saving their home or business.
That is why news like this, about Stonington, CT, always has a personal ring for me. After flash flood warnings, these citizens had to face their worst nightmare, more rain. And here is where the law of averages is comes into play.
No matter how well designed a structure or set of structures is, they will eventually fail. Nothing is perfect and, as Lawrence Gonzales demonstrates in his book, Deep Survival, the more complex a system becomes, the more likely it is to have a catastrophic failure. The exact point can never be determined because it is like slowly building a pile of sand. Each grain, or level of complexity, that is put on the pile increase the risk of an entire side sliding away. When that breaking point is, no one knows.
In Stonington, the statistics have caught up with the citizens as intense downpours have caused at least one dam to break. So far there are no reported casualties. That could be because the citizens of Stonington live on the Atlantic Ocean are use to these type of situations. Maybe it is because of an advanced warning system in a community use to dealing with hurricane rains. But as more rains are forecasted for the area by the National Weather Service, lets hope no more complex systems come crashing down.
Slideshow from WNTH here.