Paying Bill for Harvey and Irma Storm Damage

As expected, mobile-homes suffered much damage

In life, we are faced with many choices and one of those has to do with where we choose to live. Across the globe, people have matriculated towards the water and the coastline is often considered prime real estate. This often makes it the most valuable and sought-after land on the planet. With the choice to live on or near the coast comes certain risks and dangers, however, if where a large number of people have chosen to live is any indication most people agree it is worth the risk. If you choose to live in “Paradise” you should be responsible for the cost of doing so by paying the taxes and fees associated with such a lifestyle.

In just a matter of weeks, America has witnessed both the major flood damage of Hurricane Harvey upon Texas and the toll Hurricane Irma took on Florida. After Hurricane Irma overwhelmed the Florida Keys, a long ribbon of low-lying islands linked by bridges, with 15-foot storm surges and 130 mph winds, federal officials’ first assessment of the damage suggests that nearly a quarter of the homes on the island were destroyed. “Basically every house in the Keys was impacted in some way or another,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Brock Long, said at a news conference. This emphasis the fact that while not every home is beyond repair it appears few if any escaped some form of damage. All in all, this has been a difficult time for those living in these areas.

Not seeking to appear cold-hearted I’m forced to admit that as a person living a great distance from Paradise I have a problem getting stuck with the bill for massive hurricane damage. Unlike certain natural disasters that are very unpredictable, hurricanes can affect a wide and massive area, but we know which areas are prone to such a storm and warning is sounded days before the event. I argue, aid is one thing but footing the bill for rebuilding an area prone to the ravages of these storms is well beyond the call of duty. When we look beyond not just rebuilding but towards rebuilding better and upgrading aging infrastructure to lessen the impact of future storms I certainly must scream foul.

A word to the wise, move your car to high ground!

This is not saying the infrastructure does not need to be upgraded but that it should be funded by those in the region that harvest the benefits of such an investment. Another reason I get unexcited about the idea of paying for much of this damage is that a great deal of it is the result of poor planning. One such example of poor planning is to place a mobile-home in the probable path of such storms and to think it will go unmoved or unscathed. While you might be kind and not call such a notion “stupid” I argue that you are tempting fate or rolling the dice to place such a structure full of your most precious belongings in the likely path of a hurricane without taking insurance for such an occurrence.

The issue of flood insurance deserves its own article because of the complexity of the subject, however, these storms highlight the need for reforming NFIP, the National Flood Insurance Program and represent another growing political crisis for lawmakers that has been years in the making. “We need to make sure that the flood insurance program is solvent now — it’s already working on borrowed money. Make it solvent, make it affordable so people can buy it,” said Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican whose home state of Texas is slowly rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey last month.

It must be noted that more than half of the homeowners in Hurricane Irma’s direct path lack flood insurance, according to a recent study by The Associated Press. The fact is many people don’t buy this insurance because they feel it is too expensive. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said, Congress is sending legislation to the White House that would extend the NFIP through Dec. 8. This is important because the program is $25 billion in debt, and its borrowing authority may be exceeded by claims from Hurricane Harvey, let along Hurricane Irma. This means and so I must underline it, the National Flood Insurance Program is already a money loser which makes it difficult to reduce the cost to those seeking coverage.

When we consider that every time the federal government passes a bill and spends money each billion dollars spent represents roughly three dollars that must be raised from every man, woman, and child in America. This means anything in the way of an expensive “pork-filled” flood relief bill will rapidly become painful for taxpayers. Remember many people pay no taxes which means this “assessment” falls only upon those that do. If Washington in its wisdom is generous to the tune of a three hundred fifty billion dollar relief bill for both storms together it represents over one thousand dollars coming from everyone living in America to aid those affected areas in rebuilding. To many people this is unaffordable.

Most people draw a sharp distinction between living on the coast of Florida and within the Houston area, and they should.  The latter is more associated with the image of a working town, however, both are at near sea-level and prone to flooding. While it may be politically incorrect to say it, people in these areas have a responsibility to do everything in their power to take the steps that will minimize their loss. God helps those who help themselves, this is why it was not surprising that mainstream media interviews during Harvey were often with the same people who were victims of Hurricane Katrina even though only twenty-five to forty thousand of these former New Orleans residents reside in the greater Houston area of close to seven million people. Bottom-line when it comes to sending help, absolutely, but as for taking responsibility for rebuilding either area, not my monkey, not my circus.

H/T: Bruce Wilds

Uninsured Will Get A Rude Awakening Post Harvey

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