General Question

whitecarnations's avatar

How do people of disasters in America get back on their feet?

Asked by whitecarnations (1635points) March 2nd, 2012

So these people work their whole lives to achieve a home, and then it runs into a brick wall during a storm, what is the next step for these home owners/whole town?

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17 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Communities pull together and local municipal and clergy organizations begin the cleanup. Red Cross will arrive to help provide first-aid, food, water and shelter to those that need it. FEMA and insurance agencies will roll into town to assess the damage.

Some folks will rebuild and recover some never will…all will never be the same.

Coloma's avatar

I just watched a 3 part documentary on Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans La. in 2005.
Holy shit..those poor people, the insurance companies stymied them on the damages, many refusing to pay more than a pittance of property values, FEMA drug their feet and thousands were left for months with no aid. Not to mention the Army Corp of Engineers that built the feeble levys that could not withstand a category 3 storm let alone a category 5!

Iraq had more american resources than the Katrina crowd. I have little faith in Americas ability to handle major disasters. God forbid if San Francisco goes down from a quake again like the one at the turn of the century or any other extreme event. Our government sucks, insurance companies suck. Not a comforting picture, no, it is not.

marinelife's avatar

Rebuilding loans. Hard work and determination.

JLeslie's avatar

Most people are insured. The insurance may not cover everything, but it can help get things started. It did not take me very long to get my money from my insurance company when I had damage from Hurricane Wilma, but my house was still intact, so I did not have to move out, it was an outside structure that had been destroyed.

After Hurricane Andrew I knew a couple people who lived in trailers on their property while their house was rebuilt. I’m not sure how that was paid for? Insurance, governement, or out of their own pockets. In fact, one of my big clients at Bloomingdale’s at the time was an RV dealer, and his business went through the roof. He became very rich very fast.

A friend of mine had a horrible indoor flood from a running toilet. It was an upstairs leak, and they had been gone all weekend. They came home to the ceiling falling down through to the first floor, feet deep of water, and everything soaked. Can you imagine? Her insurance put her up in a hotel for months while they rebuilt and renovated.

Poor people have it the toughest. They may not even own, but they get displaced and it is very difficult. They have no savings for a rainy day. The government does step in and help, but of course the help is not perfect.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie It was astounding the run around and refusal of the insurance companies with the Katrina scene. Arguing whether homes were rain damaged, flood damaged, wind damaged, and of course voting that certain of these damages were not covered. I highly recommend watching ” When the levies broke.” A real eye opener.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I am not sure which special I saw on the matter, and I have no doubt some insurers are horrific. But, the insurance industry is, and always has been, very specific about coverage. Windstorm does not cover flooding, and vice versa. The entire home insurance industry needs to be changed if we are going to be upset about that. Like I have earthquake insurance, but I know many people around me who don’t. Earthquake insurance is very very exoensive where I live. If the big one hits and their house falls down they will essentially be uninsured. If their house catches fire, they might be just fine.

A lot of the people on the documentary I saw seemed underinsured to me. They seemed to think insurance covers total value, not the value of the structure only, it does not include the land value.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma Katrina served as a sobering reminder why we need to be prepared. FEMA is not this Government agency on a white horse that will save everyone. It is merely an arm pf the Federal Government that will direct Federal resources where needed most. Flat sobering fact is there is only so much they have and why the Government has been pushing their new website

The truth of disaster relief and recovery rests on the shoulders of the local, county and state agencies first and foremost and why you always see the Governor being interview in the aftermath of any large scale disaster. It is his decision alone to decide if and when any Federal resources will be brought to bear. Any disaster response always starts within the community and further reinforces the need not only for cities and towns to have preparations ready but each and every individual and doing so greatly demisishes the need for tending to healthy individuals who can self suffice while more important recovery matters are attended to.

Kartina was so devasting not by the size of the hurricane itself….but the Cat 5 strom surge that overwhelmed the dykes around New Orleans and that event trumped any preparations any agency could have ever had planned for.

Bottom line is out National Strategic Stockpile is limited and designed to provide basic minimal supplies to a handfull of areas not many large metropolitan areas let alone the entire nation. Big shit hits the fan and you will be on your own for a long long time.

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser Agreed. Welcome back Cruiser! :-)

JLeslie's avatar

Although true it is up to the Governor to request help from the fed, the fed, Bush, during the aftermath of Katrina should have broken the law and went in, even Bush admits this. He should have dealt with any inquiries or charges after the fact. FEMA and government in general, both local and federal, in my opinion after a disaster should ensure public safety and help with minimal basic needs.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie How quickly we forget FEMA’s own Michael Brown who is soley responsible for FEMA’s mishandling of the crisis. It really comes down to Mr. Brown was damned if he did move in without direct request from the Gov and Damend if he didn’t.

“On August 29, 2005, five hours after the hurricane hit land, Brown made his first request for Homeland Security rescue workers to be deployed to the disaster area only after two days of training.[38] He also told fire and rescue departments outside affected areas to refrain from providing trucks or emergency workers without a direct appeal from state or local governments in order to avoid coordination problems and the accusation of overstepping federal authority.”

FEMA was simply not prepared for something of this magnitude and who do you really blame as we had never seen anything remotely close to a disaster of Katrina’s size. Who is to blame for such an unknown?

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser When hurricanes approached the Florida shore request for a county to be declared a disaster and for federal aid were done prior to landfall. Then it was up to the President to evaluate the demage and approve or dissaprove the prior requests by the governor. This was and is done for several reasons, including the possibility that communication systems might be limited. The LA Governor should have put in the requests before the hurricane hit. It was already reaching cat 5 while in the Gulf, not doing so was negligent. Even if Brown is incompetent, the President still has the final responsibility fall on him. If I have a no tresspassing sign on my lawn, but you see my 5 year old drowing in my pool, for God’s sake come onto my property and save her. Risk the charge of trespassing.

Any help, even disorganized help would have been better than nothing. Recent experience in FL certainly provided some guidance. We help around the world during tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and monsoons. Are you really going to argue we had no idea how to handle Katrina? As some sort of excuse to not help at all?

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie But she did put in such a request….

Investigation of State of Emergency declaration

In a September 26, 2005 hearing, former FEMA chief Michael Brown testified before a U.S. House subcommittee about FEMA’s response. During that hearing, Representative Stephen Buyer (R-IN) inquired as to why President Bush’s declaration of state of emergency of August 27 had not included the coastal parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and Plaquemines.[20] (In fact, the declaration did not include any of Louisiana’s coastal parishes, whereas the coastal counties were included in the declarations for Mississippi[21] and Alabama.[22]) Brown testified that this was because Louisiana Governor Blanco had not included those parishes in her initial request for aid, a decision that he found “shocking.” After the hearing, Blanco released a copy of her letter, which showed she had requested assistance for “all the southeastern parishes including the City of New Orleans” as well specifically naming 14 parishes including Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemines.[23]

Bottom line is IMHO FEMA, and the Govenor of LA did all they were supposed to do in repsonse to this threat. These types of threats have been rehearsed and prepared for a thousand times over. Whay NO ONE predicted was the Cat 5 storm surge that really did all the damage. Again who do you really blame for the unthinkable??

JLeslie's avatar

@cruiser oh, interesting, I had always been under the impression she had not requested help. President Bush speaks of a meeting with the governor where he asks her directly if he should send troops in. I’m confused I must admit.

All I can say is as Katrina left the western shores of FL and crossed through the Gulf, I called a girlfriend of mine in MI and said, “it looks like it is going to be really bad when it hits up there, really scary.” I knew, but experts didn’t know? She even called me back as the reports came in during the aftermath and said, “you called it, you knew.” The minute the second plane hit the other tower on 9/11 I hung up with my sister and called to make sure my mom was not working in a federal building that day near DC. Maybe I was not sure it was terrorism on the first hit, but I sure as hell knew it was a possibility, I would have emptied all towers and secured the President. Certainly after the second hit I would have emptied the Pentagon, Capital building and Whitehouse.

No, I don’t have much understanding why it took days to go into New Orleans. They should have been planning days ahead. We have lots and lots of fair warning before a hurricane. The city is below sea level. Seriously, flooding should have been a consideration. Towns along the Mississippi, even way up in TN, MS, MO, and other states sometimes need to have people taken out by boat and airlift, it is not a new scenerio. We have severe flooding all the time in America in various locations. Maybe this is in greater magnitude, but we certainly could have started the help process sooner than we did.

Edit: I am not blaming Bush for the whole mess, believe me. I blame a lot of people. And, I am not one of tose people who think the ciizens have no responsibility themselves. The city provided shelter, it is not their job to provide food, medicine, or medical in my opinion during the storms, the shelter is to keep them protected from the storm period. Some cities do provide more if they will be in shelters for long periods of time, but people are told to bring water, food, medication for an extended period, etc.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie I was in New Orleans the week prior to Kartina hitting landfall and I was in a bar with locals watching the weather channel track that storm and thought it perfectly OK that these locals were quite comfortable staying in town riding out the storm. All up and down the Gulf coast and especially in New Orleans are 100 plus year old buildings that stood testament to the sturdiness of these coastal towns.

My Sister lives in Biloxi and is in the Hurrican Hunters and told me of fellow pilots who lived in a sturdy 100 year old brick 2 story home on the ocean, that these people who really should know best, they chose to ride the storm out in that building. She told me how they had to dive out the top floor window and ride the surf to safety as the water reached the upper floors. There was only a foundation left the next day.

The real problem is so many people chose to stay put and created a monumental rescure nightmare. Again I say THOSE are the people who should shoulder the blame for the loss of life and suffering endured in the following days NOT the Governements involved.

flo's avatar

I don’t know how they do it. Some people are really strong, but it amazes me how they keep rebuilding.

JLeslie's avatar

@cruiser Again, I do not put all the blame on the government. The local government indeed gave out lots and lots of warning to evacuate. From what I understand Amtrak offered to move people out, but for some reason the mayor or governor refused? Not sure how accurate that is. Indeed people were given shelter in the final minutes in the stadium. If there had not been the flooding there would not have been such a catastrophe, but the levees broke. So, then yes, I think the government, local and federal needs to help. But, I dare say in other communities it might have been different. I saw the mayor on TV at one point pleading for help, saying he knew he might get fired for saying it, but people are out of control, jonesing off of drugs. Japan after the Tsunami did not have people trying to rape pilage and steal, ya know? Of course most citizen in NOLA are not theifs either, but there is a certain percentage, too large of a percentage, who will steal if they can, need drugs, and are not worried about anyone but themselves.

In FL people stay in evacuation zones also, we hear them desperate and terrified as the winds pick up, calling into radio stations for help, crying, because emergency services will not come get them during sustained winds over 40. But, then after they are helped when emergency service can get up and start running again, and family, friends, and neighbors help each other.

YARNLADY's avatar

The people most likely to recover from a serious are the ones who pitch in and start working on the clean up immediately. They find emergency shelter for themselves and do not sit around waiting for someone else to bail them out.

The most successful communities are the ones where there is a good leader or group of people who will take charge of their own recovery, getting the neighbors and local companies together and get to work. They do not wait for someone to do something.

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