You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

I Do Have Sympthy, But…

Seeing the devasation brought on by the midwest floods is astonishing. As a severe weather buff, I’m always fascinated when earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards take place. It never ceases to amaze me to see what Mother Nature is capable of doing.

So, I feel horrible for the people and businesses affected by these massive floods. I really do.

But then there was an article I read yesterday discussing how FEMA had historically assured residents that levees will protect their property since only a “100-year storm” would break the them. Consequently, residents living in low-lying areas near major rivers were not required to get flood insurance.

Well, it appears that this is that 100-year storm. And levees have broken. And it sucks.

But this article also quoted people discussing historic examples of recent floods, such as those in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. A man was actually quoted as saying that he didn’t have flood insurance in New Orleans, because he didn’t know the city was below sea level or susceptible to flooding.

WTF? Who didn’t know that? Especially somebody who lives there and might drive past these levees protecting them? I don’t buy that excuse one bit. I’ve never been to Louisiana but I’ve known for my entire adult life that the city was below sea level. Maybe it’s because I’m a big ole’ geek who watches too many documentaries on PBS and the Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel, but come on. That excuse doesn’t fly with me.

Where has accountability gone? I mean, when I lived in San Francisco…as a renter, no less…I made sure that I had at least minimum earthquake insurance coverage. And I recall it was tough to get (because of the high probability of earthquakes, insurers would only provide limited coverage). But I got it. And even living in brick or concrete buildings in Boston, I was sure to have coverage for fire, too. It’s worth the extra expense because catastrophies do happen.

Nowadays, everybody just seems to claim ignorance. And I’m annoyed by it. And we’re not learning from our mistakes. Homes are being rebuilt in the areas of New Orleans that are below sea level. It WILL happen again. Why were people hundreds of years ago so much smarter? (you know, the original New Orleans settlers who living in the French Quarter….a part of the city that didn’t get destroyed by flooding).

Anyway, this probably sounds like I’m contradicting my stance that I feel sorry for those affected. But if I had an investment as significant as a property, and it was located in proximity of a water source that had the potential of flooding (and most water sources do), I’d have been sure to get flood coverage. Hell, I probably wouldn’t have purchased property in that location in the first place. I’m a cautious guy…and there are certain risks I’m just not willing to take. Like buying a trailer park home in Tornado Alley, or a cliff-house on stilts in earthquake territory, or a crack-house next-door to Lindsey Lohan.


  1. Comment by doctorj on June 21, 2008 8:56 am

    Well, If we are not part of the US I SURE wish you would tell the IRS so I can stop sending them $1000 a week. When federal levees FAIL to do the job they were DESIGNED to do, they better damm sure pay people for their losses. If you hate ignorance, as you say, go educate yourself on New Orleans and levees. Here is a good website to start.

  2. Comment by snarl on June 23, 2008 9:38 am

    Thanks for the link….I’ll check out that site. I agree that our government doesn’t exactly do their best with upkeep (bridges, levees). But I do believe a big chunk of that has to do with not enough taxes being paid to maintain them propertly (and, sadly, equal amounts incompetence in managing such projects). In previous blogs posts, I have mentioned that I’m all for paying more taxes if it’s going to provide improved infrastructure.

    Still, knowing that our infrastructure is currently broken…it’s all the more reason to make sure you’re insured (and or living in less damage prone areas).

  3. Comment by jeff on June 23, 2008 5:47 pm

    It could just be God’s wrath. Doesn’t anybody think of that??

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.