Chapter 16 and The Flood

The folks over at Chapter 16 are writing about the flood. You can read it here.

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The Clusterflood

If you’ve ever attended a family funeral, you know that there’s a great deal of family unity, usually for longer than you expected, but at some point, a cousin is scrounging through relatives’ cars looking for money to pay off the drug dealer an uncle and another cousin are violently dissuading from coming much closer to the funeral home or the girlfriend somehow thinks she can slip into the back of the church unseen by the wife or you’re having to stand guard over the casket to make sure no one’s slipping rings off of the deceased.

And once you start going through crap, deciding who gets what and what gets tossed? It gets ugly.

We are, in effect, going through a communal death (though let us not loose sight of the people who are dealing with actual deaths), public “funeral” and divvying crap up process.

We have had a great deal of community unity.

This will not continue.

I’m not saying this to be a pessimist. I’m saying this to be a realist and to try to give folks a head’s up about what’s to come.

I’m just saying, the cracks are already showing. Some still seem, to me, to be ridiculous. Politicians trying to use the flood as an anti-Fed argument? The State Legislature addressing guns and not the flood? Who gives a shit? And I say this as a political blogger. I don’t give a shit what they’re up to. I just can’t hear it yet.

But some matter to people’s hearts, like the car-washing. (And I just want to point people to Cathy’s post about this.) Or the fund-raising being done through specific churches to benefit those specific churches’ relief efforts. (I’ll admit, I have really, really mixed emotions about this.  On the one hand, I think if you know you’re buying a t-shirt from a church group specifically to support their efforts, fine, whatever. But why does a church have to sell things to get people to give money? I find that weird.  It’s not like they’re raising money for a ping-pong table for the youth group. They’re raising money for relief efforts. We’re at the point now where church goers won’t open their wallets to their church’s ministries unless they get a souvenir in return? And what strings come attached to church help?)

And some really matter. Are we going to talk about the different levels of media coverage different parts of town got? Different parts of the state got? Are we going to talk about which areas had been begging, long before this, for some flood measures along waterways that regularly flooded, but were too small for the Corps to worry about? And there’s going to be finger-pointing at the Corps. Some of it will be well deserved, some of it not.

And then there’s the insurance clusterfuck about to happen. I am hearing from too many people that they were specifically told by their insurance agents that they could not buy flood insurance because they were not in a flood plain for this to be just a simple case of misunderstanding that the location of their house didn’t require flood insurance. So, let’s state the truth: anyone can buy flood insurance, regardless of whether they live in a flood plain. You practically cannot get a mortgage without flood insurance if you do live in a flood plain.

But a lot of people are reporting that they were told they could not get flood insurance if they didn’t live in a flood plain. This is not the case. But that’s what they’re saying they were told.

So, we’re going to see fissures between people who still have houses and people who don’t. And between people who were able to buy flood insurance and people who felt they were unable to.

I don’t know how you begin to investigate whether people were told they couldn’t buy flood insurance, but, like I said, it seems to me that we’re hearing from too many people that they were told that for this to be a misunderstanding or some kind of wishful thinking on their parts.

Most everyone I’ve heard say this lives out west, but I’d be curious if y’all are hearing this from folks in other parts of town.

If this is true–that people were specifically told they could not get flood insurance–and they can prove it? It seems to me that we’re sitting at the start of an enormous scandal. And a strange one. It’s not like insurance companies are actually selling you flood insurance. They’re just brokering the deal for FEMA. So, it’s hard to see what is to be gained by telling people who might flood not to buy flood insurance.

I don’t know.

But I have my eye on it.