Why Now?
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I've been through this drill several times recently, so let me share: FEMA is not going to give you the aid you think and may ask for what it gives you back; your insurance company is not going to help you, they are going to wear you down until you accept less than you are owned; your assistance from the government is inversely proportional to their resources, local government will help a lot but assistance tapers to almost nothing from the Feds.

Congress allocated all kinds of money for hurricane relief last year, but it never got here. When FEMA said it was going to cover 90% of approved costs, you missed the part about "approved", which doesn't cover much of anything.

I remember Opal in 1995 and things started out rocky, but they came through in the end and hung in for the long haul. After Opal things got fixed and people were made whole.

Duncan wonders why there is so much said about the Mississippi casinos, so I'll tell him: they are the largest single source of income for the state and the largest source of jobs in the area that was struck. The state is in pain and until those casinos are up and operating the state cannot recover. State law required the actual casinos to be on barges on the water, which is why they were lost. There is no guarantee that the corporations won't take their insurance money and abandon Mississippi.

For those who don't live in this area: the losses will almost all have to be covered by government-operated flood insurance, private insurance losses will actually be minimal. The damage was done by the tidal surge and property insurance doesn't cover it. You may have been paying for class 1A homeowner's insurance for 20 years and find out you aren't covered for your losses. Most people discover this when they apply to their insurance company and have their claims rejected.

When your rates for homeowners insurance go up this year, keep in mind that probably 90% of the losses in New Orleans are not covered by a homeowner's policy. Insurance companies will probably pay for damage above the second floor for some of the high rises.

The real fun part is that you can't get flood insurance unless you are in a flood prone area because it is a last resort government program.

None of this is a problem in Florida any more, no one is writing any new policies. There's no problem because there's no new insurance available.

Regarding gasoline: $5/gallon in Atlanta for what's left in the system. Until there's some power restored the gasoline pipelines that feed the center of the country are down. Alabama is asking people to avoid all unnecessary travel and is keeping schools closed until next week to hopefully preserve enough fuel for emergency services and the military.

Maybe Cheney should call together his super-secret energy panel to work out what they are going to do. Oh, when they complain about "environmentalist" blocking new refineries, you need to ask why no one has even applied to build one. This is the same dodge used for the California energy crisis: no new plants were built because no one even started the process. The "environmentalists" haven't been afforded the opportunity to oppose refineries, any more than they had an opportunity to oppose California power plants. Corporations aren't interested in spending money on new facilities when they can milk profits from the old ones.

For those people claiming this was "G-d's judgment on the wickedness of New Orleans", excuse me, but New Orleans was spared devastation by the hurricane and felled by the known weakness of a levee. The Corps of Engineers identified the problem, but the Federal government cut their matching funds from the project. The state came up with their money but the Feds realized that tax cuts were more important than protecting America's largest port and major source of natural gas.


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