Archive for the ‘Flood Insurance’ Category

Letter From Claverack Friday, September 1, 2017 From the safety of the cottage, tears…

September 3, 2017

Earlier today, I went to pick up the mail at the Post Office and as I was about to turn off the car, an interview started on NPR with Andrew White who, along with hundreds of other volunteer Texans, formed what is known as the “Texas Navy” and went out into the flooded streets of Houston.  With a sixteen-foot boat and a twenty-horsepower motor and the help of friends, he rescued at least a hundred people, including a man with cerebral palsy and a man who was being treated for cancer and was having a bad reaction to his treatment and needed to get to his hospital.  They got him within two blocks of where he needed to go; later the water in the neighborhood of the man with cerebral palsy rose another five feet after the rescue.

Sitting there, tears began flowing down my cheeks.  Andrew White’s story was replicated by others all over Harris County which holds the city of Houston, citizen volunteers taking care of other citizens in need.  It was the story of what is so often wonderful about this country.

Writing about it causing tears to build in my eyes and I am sniffling.

These are the stories, replicated in all kinds of tragedies around this country, that are the reasons we are great.  Oh, we’re miserable S.O.B.’s sometimes but when it comes to disaster, we rise to the challenge in an incredible way and that makes me proud.

From Louisiana came the “Cajun Navy” that formed after Katrina, men and women who knew firsthand what was happening on the ground in Texas and they brought in their bayou boats and lent a hand, calling it “paying it forward.”  Just as Texans had come to help them in Katrina.

Houston is home to thousands of refugees from Katrina, people who have found it hard to believe they are living through this twice in their lives.

J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans has raised over $12 million between practices for the coming season, coming off the field to work the phones.

Watt’s hometown is Pewaukee, WI and semis are traveling from there loaded with food and water and supplies.  He started out with a goal of raising $200,000 and he just kept on going.  Texas billionaire, Michael Dell, has pledged $36 million.

A group of “monster trucks,” organized by a group called Rednecks with Paychecks, is roaming the area, rescuing people and vehicles.

440,000 people have registered for aid from FEMA, as the Mayor of Houston is appealing for an “army” of FEMA officials to help with the claims.

The area that was water covered was larger than the state of Rhode Island.  As the water recedes, it leaves behind contaminated water unfit for human consumption, filled with pathogens.  Shelters, sometimes islands in a sea of water, are running low or out of food and water.

The damaged Arkema chemical plant can no longer cool the dangerous materials stored there and authorities have evacuated everyone within a mile and a half of the facility.  There have been “pops” and plumes of smoke from the plant with no one knowing whether that’s all there is going to be or if it is just the beginning.  “Brock” Long, head of FEMA, called the situation there incredibly dangerous.

Bowling alleys are filled with people; Walmart parking lots have been helipads.

And what is amazing and so wonderful and so DAMN great, is that so much of what is happening is unorganized.  It is just people getting out to help other people.  One man observed that no one was really organizing anything.  People seemed to have an instinct for what needed to be done.

Like the “Texas Navy” and Andrew White, who it turns out is the son of a former Texas governor who passed away last month, and the people in the “Cajun Navy.”

People helping other people in a way that moves me to tears, far away, in the soft safety of my cottage.

Letter From New York 06 18 15 From Waterloo to refugees to Laudato si…

June 18, 2015

Sitting at the dining room table at my cottage, I am looking out toward the creek, seeing a grey and moody day outside. It is almost chill and I’m wearing a fleece jacket to ward off the cool. I am in a slightly cranky mood from both the grey and that I am being told I must have flood insurance by the company which just bought my mortgage from the last owners of it who had bought it from someone else. In the fourteen and a half years I have been here, I have never had to have flood insurance before.

Part of me shrugs and goes: just one more thing to deal with and I will. My neighbors to the south of me have had some flooding issues but I am much, much higher than they are. We’ll see. But while I fight it, I guess I am going to have to get it and figure it out from there.

In the meantime, the British Royals have had a busy week. First there was the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta and then it’s been Ascot this week and then today we have the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in which Wellington defeated Napoleon once and for all. It was a ghastly, bloody battle in which a full quarter of the combatants were killed.

Many wrote accounts of the battle after it was over. The victors hardly felt jubilant in the wake of the destruction. But it did change history. Since then, the British and French have been allies, not enemies and have not fought each other. Napoleon was ushered into exile and his dreams of European hegemony faded. It ushered in the British Century and the great days of the British Empire.

Today there was a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to mark the Anniversary, attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

In South Carolina, there is mourning for nine individuals killed at a historic black church in Charleston by a young white man. The suspect, Dylann Roof, has been apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina. It is being labeled a hate crime. It is alleged that Roof entered the church during its Wednesday night Bible Study, stayed for an hour and then began shooting.

Obama expressed sadness and outrage and called for a national reckoning on guns, not that I think that will happen. One of the people killed was the Pastor; Obama knew him.

Laudato Si, Praise be to You, the Pope’s Encyclical, a letter of teaching, was published today and challenged the world to clean up its filth. Controversial even before its official release due to a leak, it is stirring up conversation about man’s relationship with the planet. Conservatives are not happy about it and some have been basically telling the Pope to mind his own business. But he considers this his business and he is going to have his word heard. Addressed not just to Catholics but also to every living human on the planet, Francis took a bold step that will probably only make him more popular to most while infuriating those who disagree with the stances he has taken.

It is the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, praying and spiritual rejuvenation for Muslims.   It moves with the lunar calendar.

Today there are more displaced people than ever in the world, over sixty million. Over 11 million are from Syria alone, some outside the country and some within the country. If all of them were in the same country together, it would be the 24th largest country in the world.

Lester Holt is now the permanent anchor of the Nightly News on NBC, the first African American to hold such a post. Brian Williams is not coming back to the chair he vacated when suspended in February, at least not for a while. He is going to ratings challenged MSNBC to deliver breaking news. It’s a lot like being tossed out of the Major Leagues in baseball and sent back down to the Minors.

And, apparently, he is getting a lot less money.

Outside, it is still grey, moody and gloomy. I am playing jazz on Pandora to lighten my mood. Soon, my friend Susan will be here and we’re going to Local 111 over in Philmont for dinner and a catch-up.