by wws 8/31/2008 - 7:51 pm
As dire as the consequences were for stunned Gulf coast residents in the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, they are going to be worse, this time, after Hurricane Gustav.
That is because the insurance companies who were so criminally negligent to their policy holders after those two storms -- withholding even a percentage of payout for well over a year -- have gone one step further in distancing themselves from liability in the interim. To wit:
Many property owners who succumbed to the pressure from their mortgage companies to pay off their mortgages in full with their eventual insurance payout -- and who were then forced to pay for costly repairs themselves -- discovered, after the fact, that they could no longer get insurance at all, or could only secure it at policy prices that literally boggle the mind.
These properties, that already represented a glut in a down market by virtue of their numbers, are now complete white elephants -- unsellable, however well restored, because no one wants to buy a house that cannot be insured or that is too expensive to insure. This means that thousands and thousands of property owners -- who have fought the good fight for three and four years respectively -- are about to lose everything without hope of recompense. They will then become dependent on extended relatives or will be forced to join the nomadic population of displaced persons who were not property owners to begin with, who have been living in toxin-filled FEMA trailers -- people who have nowhere to go because they have no money with which to get there and start over.
To offer these people a better alternative requires the participation of all of us. In the wake of Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, I bombarded the cable network and print MSM with emails, letters and phone calls exhorting them to follow-up on insurance and government malfeasance in the hope that it would shame these agencies into paying up. No one responded. No coverage was forthcoming. The attitude of the MSM is that the weather event is the compelling story, as is looting and mayhem in the immediate aftermath, but no one is interested in a "dull" or depressing story about insurance or long-term relocation recovery.
Therefore, if you want to help the good people of the Gulf coast who are being hit again, please:
1) donate to the Red Cross now because the Red Cross, as an organziation, has been more responsible than FEMA about offering immediate meaningful assistance; and
2) set aside as much money as you can to donate, a few weeks from now, to permanent relocation relief funds -- a far greater need for hurricane victims than a temporary camp cot in a shelter, or a voucher for a hotel.
I don't know, at this moment, if you can find a legitimate, known entity relief fund set up for long-term relocation. But if none appear in the next few days, then please participate in starting one under the auspices of TPM or, better, the Obama campaign.
This will have to taken on by someone with more free time than I have, this week and next. So I am asking for volunteer to set this in motion. Someone, please volunteer, because this is the pivotal help that is really needed that constitutes make or break assistance.
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