Since the advent of oceanic navigation and trade, people have been drawn to storm-beset coastlines. The discord between a desire for stability and the very real possibility of destruction is intractable. Chronicles of hurricanes from before the mid-twentieth century are often epics of under-preparation: pre-dawn drownings in unexpected floodwaters, overturned ships, the boundaries of cities beat back by the sea. Our own era of “disaster response,” satellite imagery (first used in 1960), and improved flood control adds its own risks and ironies — the metrological subchapter of the great drama of modernity, where medicine and technology lengthen and protect more lives while steepening the drop between what is within our control and what is not. Perhaps at the summit of human achievement, communities vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes will be effectively insulated from their effects. But for the present and the foreseeable future, manmade protective measures make more fraught the tug-of-war between stoicism, acquired resilience, and the chill, pervasive pain of loss.