Survived a Disaster
David B. South, Jr.
reprinted from The Monolithic Dome Roundup Fall 1998
is a disaster? Is it a terrible storm? Or is it a terrible storm that
destroys your home?
Is it an earthquake? Or is it an earthquake that causes a billion dollars
worth of damage?
When a force five hurricane stalls out on the Atlantic Ocean, is it a
No, of course it isn't, unless you are on a boat in the middle of it.
A disaster is not measured by an event that can cause damage, instead,
a disaster is the measure of the damage caused by an event.
Let's say you are asleep in your trailer house and a tornado comes along.
The whole trailer is thrown through the air and by some miracle, you are
You survived a disaster.
Now let us assume you are asleep in a Monolithic Dome home and that very
same tornado comes along. However, this time the home doesn't even move.
It doesn't even shake. You had put down your storm shutters before going
to bed and you sleep the entire night without harm.
Did you survive a disaster?
How can you tell? How do you know that your home survived where another
I suppose that someone might witness the tornado traveling over your home
or there might be a lot of other damage around. Possibly some kind of
undeniable proof that your home did survive where another would not.
But the measure of a disaster is by its damage. If your house wasn't damaged,
it wasn't a disaster.
there is our paradox.
In order to show that Monolithic Domes can survive a disaster, you need
to show evidence of their survivability. This is one reason why "safe
rooms" are getting so much press. When a house with a safe room is
hit by a tornado, all but the safe room is destroyed. Undeniable proof.
But if the dome survives these events without damage, it is not a disaster,
and, therefore, not proof of its survivability.
Our only remaining proof is engineering or an occasional event, so bad,
that only a building like a Monolithic Dome would survive.
For example, a dump truck rolled down a hill and slammed into my grandmother's
dome home. It put a small hole in the wall. If her house was made of wood,
the truck would have destroyed the home.
Or at least, that is what we believe would happen. After all, the damage
was only minor to the dome, and we don't know, absolutely, for sure what
would happen to a wood home.
It is the same problem as before, even though the evidence is there, the
measure of the damage is small and, therefore, the disaster was only a
Maybe one day I will wake up, step outside, and find that a force five
tornado had run over my dome home. And maybe it will destroy all of the
conventional buildings around me. It may even put a semi-truck on top
of my house.
My windows will probably be destroyed by the tornado, but my house would
still be here.
And what will the media do when they arrive? They'll film the destroyed
homes around me and probably ignore mine. Why? Because it wasn't as damaged
as the other homes. After all, they were the ones that went through a
suppose I can live with that.