Thursday, June 01, 2006

If Paperwork/Bureaucracy=Floodwalls...

...we'd have Cat 5 protection already...

From Firedoglake:

...These are Americans.

There are real people, who work hard, try to play by the rules, and just want to put their lives back together caught in this endless morass of paperwork and exhaustion and loss of jobs and worry about their kids and this seemingly never-ending nightmare. I keep going back to an e-mail that I received from a regular reader:
…Well, six months ago, I hit the road trying to get my family out of the way of a big storm. Ended up 400 miles away from new orleans. My oldest son and I came back a couple of weeks later ready to try to start putting things back together and build. It was like running into a brick wall.

For the past six months, I’ve been banging my head against this wall, yelling and screaming..and it hurts.

The National Flood Insurance Program run by FEMA (pardon me while I scream) has sent my claim back to the adjustor twice for revisions that have no effect on the settlement amount and they still can’t tell me when I can expect a settlement of my claim. This was insurance that I paid for. I applied for disaster assistance and was promptly buried in paperwork, and now FEMA has sent me a letter telling me I was ineligible for diasater help because I have insurance. Meanwhile, my homeowner’s insurance, who wanted to use their own structural engineer instead of one of the two local engineers that I recommended, has finally agreed that my house leans due to wind rack from the hurricane winds. That only took them five months to figure out. Of course, it only took me and my neighbors about five minutes.

Now it’s just a question of how long it’s going to take to figure out how much this is all going to cost to remedy and how long it’s going to take for them to actually get the settlement check in the mail (if the mail is still working).

I also put in an application for an SBA Personal Disaster Loan. They finally sent someone to look at my house a month ago (that only took five months). The SBA field representative said he would have his report in within a couple of a days and a loan officer from the SBA would contact me within two weeks. After two weeks I called and I was told that a loan officer had not yet been assigned to my case. When I complained, they put my case on some type of "accelerated program", but I still don’t have a loan officer and was told that the reason for this was that they had to put so many people on the accelerated program that it slowed them down (*grin*)….

I weep for these folks, but more than that, I’m angry. Here’s another perspective from a Mississipian
As far as the eye can see … busted chairs; tables; washing machines; toilets; kitchen sinks; broken ceiling fans; smashed dishes; children’s toys; water-soaked, blurry, family photo albums; shoes of all kinds; torn, mud-splattered sheets; pillows; bloated mattresses; lamps; boards; cement blocks; and so much more, buried in mud, impaled in bushes, stuck in trees, scattered across miles and miles of landscape, lost to the wind and heat and mildew, and the inevitable march of decay. Fields of debris faded into shades of gray, leached of color. I see four wooden crosses nailed to a gate, the house down the lane a pile of rubble.
I see a small child, a little girl of maybe 4 years, sitting on a box in front of her family’s FEMA trailer, staring at nothing. I hear no neighbors talking over back fences, no neighbors, period, no children’s laughter or play, anywhere, no sounds of anything save the distant hum of a chainsaw or a truck engine straining to haul off broken pieces of what was once someone’s house. Otherwise, it is quiet. A place of broken dreams, missing friends, lost homes, lost lives.

It’s not just NOLA that is suffering: the rest of the Gulf Coast isn’t faring a whole lot better in terms of reconstruction efforts and federal assistance. If this is the best we can do with a hurricane, what in the hell are we going to do with a catastrophic biological, chemical or nuclear attack?

Sure, there is a personal responsibility component to all of this: you get your family out when there is a hurricane coming to the extent that you can do so. You make a decision to try and live somewhere safe, rather than putting your family in harm’s way to the extent that you can do so. You plan ahead with supplies and try to have an emergency escape plan, just in case, to the extent that you can do so. Most families do that — including the family that did everything right and is still struggling to stay on their feet in the New Orleans area that I linked to above.

I don’t expect the Federal government (nor the state or local governments for that matter) to step in and make life perfect. But if they make promises, they ought to be expected to live up to them.

Everyone who thinks the Bush Administration has lived up to its end of the deal and kept all its promises, give a shout out. *crickets chirping*

I guess the wingnut "pundits," such as they are, decided that hurricane or natural disaster response is more indicative of a "mommy" party than a "daddy" one. Still--I wonder how badly they'd screw up if the disaster came as a surprise...

(oh--unrelated, but: a friend is visiting from out of town, so I'll be out and about this afternoon. Will try to post a little bit later this evening).

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