Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Why do we continue to rebuild in natural disaster-prone areas?

by Take Two®

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Sabrina Mitchell recovers a stuffed doll as she searches for belongings in what was the second floor bedroom of her home which was destroyed by a tornado on May 24, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. A two-mile wide EF5 tornado touched down in Moore May 20 killing at least 24 people and leaving behind extensive damage to homes and businesses. U.S. President Barack Obama promised federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Scott Olson/Getty Images

This week in Oklahoma, tornadoes killed more than two dozen people and flattened entire subdivisions. Despite the destruction, residents are already talking about plans to rebuild in a region known as "Tornado Alley."

We've heard similar stories here in Southern California of people rebuilding in the exact same location following natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires or mudslides.

Carlynne Allbee lost everything, including her home, in the 2003 Cedar Fire. The fire, caused by a lost hunter, killed 15 people and was the largest in California's recorded history.

Despite losing all of her belongings, Allbee decided to rebuild her home in the same area. After the fire was extinguished, she and some friends sifted through the rubble. 

"Anybody who came out and helped me sift ashes, I told them, 'we're gonna delight in what we find…nothing about what you lost,'" said Allbee. "I'm a half-full person, not half-empty, but I have neighbors who just came, shook their heads, and turned around and they couldn't even face the idea of even looking in the ashes."

Although Allbee had a positive outlook on the tragedy, she says it was still difficult to rebuild. The process from start to finish took her more than five years. 

"The difficulty was more the obstacles because of the insurance companies. Every time there's a major disaster, you hear stories about people being under-insured, and the insurance companies stalled us off so we didn't even have checks until the summer," said Allbee. "At that time, you're given, I don't even think a year's worth, maybe six months worth of additional living expenses. And they use up most of that time by stalling you off. It makes it hard."

Six years after the Cedar Fire, LA County's largest fire, the Station Fire claimed a number of homes. Back in 2009, we spoke with Adi Ell-Ad just days after he'd lost his home in Tujunga Canyon. He joins the show today to tell us why he decided not to rebuild.  

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