Friday, May 09, 2008

Walking On Sunshine

This below question came up as off-handed comment in an email filled with unrelated material, in a Yahoo group that I'm in. It's a group comprised of around 60 people from around the world, none of which besides me live in New Orleans or even the Southeastern United States. The guy who posted the email is from out of the US. (I'd give him and his country credit, but I truly don't remember. I think it's the Netherlands.)

To answer his question, I combined my personal hurricane Katrina story with bits of my friends's stories to try to give a rounder picture of our situtation.


>>BTW, speaking (earlier) about New Orleans... Today I saw a recap of 2 and a half years later and still, nothing has been done. Is this true? Why?<<

The short answer - No, that is not true. Thousands of people have worked really hard to try to bring New Orleans back. The media reports what it wants to see.

The long answer -

Imagine this situation: You've lived in New Orleans your entire life so you are used to hurricanes. At least once every few hurricane seasons (June 1 through November 30), there is one storm that you evacuate for. (You don't worry about the "minor" ones, only evacuating for the Category 3 or above storms.)

This new hurricane is predicted to hit to the east of New Orleans, but may shift so you call your friends in northern Louisiana and ask to stay for a few days. You pack three days worth of clothes. (That's as long as you've ever evacuated.) You put all your valuables in the attic. (When Betsy, the last major hurricane to hit New Orleans, came through your neighborhood in 1965, your house sustained one foot of water so you figure your stuff will be safe in the attic.)

You leave on Friday, August 26 with a full tank of gas and $500 in your pocket, telling everyone to have a good three day weekend.

Hurricane Katrina hits on Monday, August 29.

The National Guard finally lets you back into your neighborhood on Monday, October 3. You have been gone for over five weeks.

You had left a week's worth of food for your cat. He's been dead for a couple of weeks. Killed by a racoon.

Your house is on a hill six feet above the street, but the water still made it to your gutters and almost to your roof. A total of 17 feet. Remember that your same area received one foot of water during hurricane Betsy - and that water came in and was gone within a day. The water this time sat for over two weeks. Everything in your house is covered with black sludge. Mold is starting to crawl up your walls.

You call your home owners insurance company. They say that the damage to your house was caused by flood water which is not covered by your policy. They offer you $10,000 for the contents of your home. You call your flood insurance company. They tell you that the damage to your house was caused by wind damage not flood water. They offer you nothing.

You apply for a Road Home Loan - that you'll have to pay back in addition to the mortage still outstanding on your home. The Road Home has a nine-month waiting list. In the meantime, you max out your credit cards fixing up your home.

After two years, you're tired of living in a 150-square-foot FEMA trailer next to your house. You're ready to move home. The news reports about the trailers containing nearly toxic level of famaldahyde make you nervous.

Now imagine that situation has happened to EVERYONE you know in YOUR city. Every family member. Everyone on your street. Everyone in your neighborhood. Everyone you work with. Over 250,000 people.

How long would it take you and your city to recover?


marco said...

The insurance companies sound like scams, but that is me.

To comment on your question I had to dig into our past.
The last time we had such a devistation it was in the night of 31 januari and 1 februari 1953 in Zealand(a province south of Holland).

I haven't got hard evidence, but I thought round 2 years the houses were back (so far they wanted to build the houses on the place where it stood).
Yet the Delta Plan took 50 years, from 1953 till 2003. It secured the living erea and the sea. Each his place.
Yet, here in Holland you are paid a sum by the government. And as you may have read people offered so much money (for those days) a lot were helped. Only scar was the mental one. That can't be taken out that easely.

I am proud of what people have done in New Orleans. I only thought the government would do much more.

Thanks Marshall for your input and am sorry that you cried. It wasn't my intention.



Online Productions said...

I can't even come close to imagine what has happened to all of you in New Orleans. Marshall, you're story touches my heart all across the world, I even cried a little.

It is shamefull that the insurance companies all point to the other and don't take responsibility. It is even more shamefull that the government hasn't done more to help all those in need. As Marco said we only had something scimilar to this a long time ago in Zeeland but here everyone helped. It seems to me as an outsider that Bush and his administration doesn't care. Way to pathetic for words.

It pains me that you still can't live in your own home. Must be hard to see it so close and still not able to move back.

Marshall, thanks for sharing. My heart goes out to you.


jason said...

Sounds almost like a word problem from the ACT :)

Two years x 250,000 +150 sq feet x 100,000 dollars - 17 ft. divided by nothing = ?

But seriously, that's one of the best and most succinct answers to that question as I've heard.

Silly Monkey said...

...or you actually DO get some money from your insurance company. But then at a later date, you get a letter from them telling you that they'll no longer cover you for any hurricane damage (because you filed a claim).

And your mortgage holder requires coverage. And no one will cover you--unless of course you want to pay maybe ten times what you were paying before the storm. Out of your own pocket. :P

Like Marco said, insurance is a scam. It's fine until you actually need it.

nolageek said...

Also, Marshall, you suddenly realize most of the people you know are now on some sort of medication (doctor-prescribed or otherwise,) the number of people you know that have committed suicide or have been murdered can be counted on both hands and you are officially two degrees of separation from someone who killed and ate his girlfriend.

Or was that just me? :)

Silly Monkey said...

Oh no, that was all of us Vincent. The girlfriend eating thing has been rampant since Katrina. I think we all have at least one friend or family member who has eaten their girlfriend since then.