Another Black Eye For FEMA


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bountyhunter
October 4, 2005, 08:48 PM
Hundreds of thousands of hurricane flood victims along the Gulf Coast are only now realizing they were misled by the government on their need for flood insurance.

State floodplain officials tell ABC News that the floodplain maps, created by FEMA and used by the federal government, are both outdated and inaccurate. They also say the government has known of the inaccuracies.

"The people who relied upon these maps, in many cases, ended up in harm's way, flooded, without flood insurance, and had no idea that they were in danger," asserted Steve Kanstoroom, founder of FEMAINFO.us, a Web site advocating for flood victims.

To make matters even worse, homeowners who called the FEMA helpline to ask whether they needed flood insurance were actually forwarded to a private answering service located in Tallahassee, Fla. Operators there had no expertise in floodplain mapping or flood insurance. "Most of them, as far as work experience, had fast food, Wendy's, pizza places," said Robert James, author of the FEMA Call Center Assessment, 2005.

The confidential audit, prepared by James, found that large numbers of callers were badly misled about their need for flood insurance. Members of Congress have repeatedly asked FEMA for a copy of the report. As of today, FEMA officials say the agency has not yet turned over the audit.


"Three-thousand calls a month – 500, 600 calls a month of which were gravely erroneous. That's a serious problem," said James of the report's findings.








http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/HurricaneKatrina/story?id=1183849&page=2

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rick_reno
October 4, 2005, 08:55 PM
To make matters even worse, homeowners who called the FEMA helpline to ask whether they needed flood insurance were actually forwarded to a private answering service located in Tallahassee, Fla.

They're lucky, this could have been outsourced to India. Wait a year, I'm sure it will be.

Dannyboy
October 4, 2005, 11:06 PM
These people had to be told whether or not they needed flood insurance? Wow, that is just nuts.

JohnBT
October 5, 2005, 09:26 AM
That's right. I mean HELLO YOU LIVE ON THE GULF COAST. Sorry for the shouting. ;)

JT

El Tejon
October 5, 2005, 09:32 AM
Good grief, I am now firmly convinced that people should be required to stay inside and watch television. The real world is just too much for 99.99999% of the population.

Maybe FEMA should tell people that they need to breath? :scrutiny:

El Rojo
October 5, 2005, 10:34 AM
Ah, who says we won the cold war?

duckslayer
October 5, 2005, 10:47 AM
If I stick a screwdriver in my eye, is there a government official that can tell me if I need medical treatment or not? :banghead:

El Tejon...+1

davec
October 5, 2005, 10:51 AM
All those people should have gotten together and hired a surveyor and engineers and cartographers and had the proper estimation of the size and shape of the flood plains performed, as well as an assessment of the risk to their property under various scenarios.

Stupid people, relying on the government for that kind of thing.

Anybody know how long it takes, and how much it costs to do a coastal flood plain survey?

Master Blaster
October 5, 2005, 11:16 AM
If one wants flood insurance one would ask the agent who sells homeowners insurance, he's the guy who sells flood insurance for FEMA as well last time I checked. Flood insurance while underwritten and administered by FEMA is only sold through licensed Insurance agents who sell homeowners or small commercial policies.

Is there a big body of water near you???? Does it flood sometimes?????

maybe you should consider flood insurance.

Most folks who have it get it because it is required by the mortgage company that holds the mortgage on you r hous if its in a flood plain.(its all bush's fault)

You have to use a little common sense in these things it seems(its all bush's fault). Its not like a surprise that if you live near the Gulf that you could have a flood(its all bush's fault), and certainly NOONE in NO should have been surprised that their areas is subject to flooding(its all bush's fault).

Most of the outdated flood maps which has been a known problem for years (its all bush's fault) are not on the coast in the Gulf(its all bush's fault), they are in areas near streams and creeks far inland(its all bush's fault), and the reason the map is outdated(its all bush's fault) is because a new supermart or housing development(its all bush's fault) has been built since the last mapping(its all bush's fault)and that substantially changes(its all bush's fault) the flood situation due to the extra runoff(its all bush's fault). Unfortunately local governments who make decisions about zoning and new construction (its all bush's fault)dont often hire and engineer(its all bush's fault)to evaluate the effect on the flood plains that a new large paved area has with more runnoff due to the trees and grass that absorbed water now being gone(its all bush's fault) and asphalt being in its place(its all bush's fault).

What ABC is talking about has nothing to do with flooding in high risk areas which are all in the 25 year or less flood plain and always will be on the maps. Folks just decided they did not want to spend the money on the insurance and since no one made them (no mortgage) they chose not to buy it.

JohnBT
October 5, 2005, 01:02 PM
When Gaston stalled out over Richmond we got over a foot of rain in less than a day. Who would have thought an area called Shockoe Bottom, named for Shockoe Creek, would flood. :) I doubt if more than a handful of the numerous businesses had flood insurance.

And yes, the area has flooded numerous times in the past 200 years or so.

Here's a picture taken early in the flood. It eventually got high enough to float loaded tractor trailers. :eek: This is all rainwater, a floodwall keeps the James River out.

http://media.hamptonroads.com/images/news/richmondflood2.jpg

http://homepage.mac.com/ken.weber/.Pictures/Photo%20Album%20Pictures/2004-09-02%2016.38.12%20-0700/Image-950260FAFD3811D8.jpg

Magnum Mike
October 5, 2005, 07:40 PM
Here's something else that makes everyone question the competence of the people at FEMA. The crew from the Phoenix Fire Department volunteered in the rescue operations on September 26th, but they were sent back to Phoenix because they were armed with one shotgun. When New Orleans is still trying to get back on its feet with a minimal police presence, I don't blame our Fire Department for arming themselves.
http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/stories/KTVKLNews20051005.c5ab6242.html

bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 03:41 PM
You have to use a little common sense in these things it seems(its all bush's fault). Its not like a surprise that if you live near the Gulf that you could have a flood(its all bush's fault), and certainly NOONE in NO should have been surprised that their areas is subject to flooding(its all bush's fault).

Ahhh, the Blame the Victim Camp is well represented.

I suppose it is pretty stupid for people to believe that the Fed backed by the Army Corps of Engineers could be trusted to give them a flood threat asessment that is anywhere near reliable as the local Bubba Insurance Agent who has a vested interest in convincing you to buy the insurance.

So, the basic "reasoning" of the BTV group is:

1) People are stupid if they think FEMA will help them if their city is washed away. They need to do it all themselves.

2) People are stupid if they think the Army Corps of Engineers have a clue about what land will be flooded during such an event. They need to just assume they will be flooded and pay the extra money for insurance since the FEMA estimates are worthless.

Got it. Thanks.

bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 03:43 PM
You have to use a little common sense in these things it seems(its all bush's fault). Its not like a surprise that if you live near the Gulf that you could have a flood(its all bush's fault), and certainly NOONE in NO should have been surprised that their areas is subject to flooding(its all bush's fault). I understand Tourette's Syndrome can be treated now....

EDIT TO ADD:

Interesting side note:

Nobody in this entire thread mentioned Bush except for you. The thread is about FEMA and the fact that the information they give to home owners regarding the likelyhood of flooding is faulty. Not sure why you started beating the Bush drum, I assume you equate FEMA's incompetence with Bush (a lot of people would agree), but that's not what the thread is about.

50 Freak
October 6, 2005, 03:47 PM
I'm sorry to say it but your house is below sea level and you live a few blocks next to a big assed body of water held back by little tiny walls. I don't need FEMA to tell me whether or not I'm in flood country or not. It's pretty self evident. :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

When did "common sense" stop becoming common? :( :(

JohnBT
October 6, 2005, 04:12 PM
"Got it. Thanks."

You're welcome. Glad to help you out anytime.

John

Remington788
October 6, 2005, 05:19 PM
Did anybody else see the map they showed on TV? It had grey areas and white areas, with the grey being the flood prone area and the white being non-flood prone. Well the white area represented maybe 5% of the total map and was surrounded by grey area on both sides.

Now I don't know about you, but if I lived in an area next to the gulf coast (or any ocean) and my home was not in a flood plane but was surrounded by a flood plane, I think I would have flood insurance.

Just a thought.

bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 05:33 PM
Now I don't know about you, but if I lived in an area next to the gulf coast (or any ocean) and my home was not in a flood plane but was surrounded by a flood plane, I think I would have flood insurance. I would too, but in NO we are talking about the poorest state in the union and the poorest people in that city. Hard to condemn people for not buying insurance they can't afford when the FEMA flood maps shows they don't need it.

BTW, I live in kali and we have to buy earthquake insurance instead of flood insurance and you are talking $1500/year and up just for that..... and basic home insurance is separate (another $800+).

I'm not going to laugh at poor people who can't afford flood insurance.

Byron Quick
October 6, 2005, 05:46 PM
bountyhunter,

I don't know about you but I don't live near the coast because I decided that it was too prone to flooding. I love the coast but I keep a close eye on the weather when I visit. I even watch the weather when deciding whether to drive I10 or to take a more northerly route.

We had two tropical storms stall above this area in two weeks once. Flooding, dams breaking, highways under water. I don't have flood insurance. And I've never contacted FEMA. OR my insurance agent about flood insurance. Why? Because I looked at a topographical map. I'm sixty feet above the nearest stream. 100 feet above the biggest creek five miles from here. About a 150 feet above the Savannah River 12 miles from here.

It doesn't take a whole lot of smarts to figure it out for yourself. Common prudence and the investment of a couple of hours at the library can do it for anyone who is literate and numerate.

For those who dropped out of school and can't do the requisite research for themselves...surely they have a friend or relative who can. Or a fellow church member.

But hey, if you've never bothered to learn that you live in a poorly drained area 12 feet above sea level and 10 miles from the coast...you need a keeper anyway.

And that's the real problem. Many supposed adults can't balance their own checkbooks. Think the government should do it for them?

bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 08:09 PM
And that's the real problem. Many supposed adults can't balance their own checkbooks. Think the government should do it for them? No offense, but basically all you did was restate the principle of the Reagan Era:

Just say NO to Poor People

It would be great if everybody had the options to say:

"Hey... we live in a dung hole that's too low and near the coast... let's move!"

Reality isn't quite like that.

It would be great if everybody had an extra $600/year to throw at flood insurance..... not everybody does and they make choices like "food or insurance?"

The point of this thread is that if FEMA is going to be in the "flood insurance business", then they will take the heat when they screw up. They could just say: "Hey... not our problem."

But, that's not what they did. They issue those maps to reduce the amount of flood losses that the FED (and taxpayers) have to under write every year. So, they have a vested interest to do it and they have a genuine interest to make sure they do it well.... and when they screw up, they will get yelled at same as all of us when we screw up at our jobs.

bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 08:41 PM
I never thought I would find this on FOX news:


According to the recent Total Community Action study, poverty rates have remained stagnant in New Orleans in the last 40 years and even without the near total destruction of the city, have been the highest in the nation.



Katrina Reveals Poverty Reality
Friday, September 09, 2005
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

Stories of the grinding poverty among the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans vividly illustrate what many say is a forgotten truth of modern American life — that pockets of desperate poverty still exist in a country of unsurpassed wealth and privilege.

Underscoring that reality, a report by the U.S. Census Bureau (search) released the same week Katrina hit the nation's southeast announced that the national poverty rate rose for the fourth straight year despite continuing growth in production and political rhetoric that the nation's economy is on the upswing.

According to that report, the number of Americans living under the poverty line grew by 1.1 million in 2004 for a total of 37 million people nationwide. That equals 12.7 percent of the total U.S. population. It is the fourth annual increase.

"[Poverty] is a problem in America that hasn't gone away — it just went underground for a while, and it shouldn't have," said Sheila Zedlewski, director of the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center.

Through images of the predominantly black residents of New Orleans pleading for help, leaving destroyed homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, America got a wake-up call according to Sheldon Danziger at the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan.

"People are putting these things together, and it will be interesting to see if the attention of the public stays on this," he said. "As a country we'd like to think we moved beyond it, but in reality, [poverty] is still a substantial problem."

Others caution against putting too much weight into the new numbers, pointing out that they do not reflect the public assistance low-income individuals and families receive, like Medicaid (search) and welfare, and do not distinguished between truly impoverished individuals and those who are temporarily poor.

The poverty rate began to climb in 2000, the year it hit a 26-year low of 11.3 percent of Americans living under the poverty level, according to U.S Census Bureau figures. That was the lowest point since 1974, when the number was 11.2 percent. The highest point of poverty in recent times was in 1993 at 15.1 percent. Before that, was in 1983, at 15.2 percent.

In 2004, according to the latest study, the poverty rate among African Americans remained the same — at 24.7 percent. Hispanics also saw no change in their poverty rate at 21.9, while whites saw an increase, from 8.2 percent to 8.6 percent. Asian Americans experienced the only decrease, from 11.8 percent to 9.8 percent.

The poverty rate among American families remained at 10.2 percent of the population in 2004. The Office of Budget and Management (search) defines a family of two adults and two children with a median household income of $19,157 or less as living in poverty; or a family of two with no children, making $12,649 a year.

Median household income went unchanged in 2004, according to the census bureau, at $44,389. Blacks continue to have the lowest median income among all ethnic and racial groups, making $30,134 annually.

Wages earned among Americans, however, declined in 2004. For men over 15 working full-time, year round, the real median earnings declined 2.3 percent from 2003, to $40,798. For women with similar work experiences, wages declined by 1 percent to $31,223.

And while unemployment has gone down from 5.5 percent in August 2004 to 4.9 percent in August this year, unemployment among blacks is still the highest in the country, at 9.6 percent in August compared to 4.2 percent for whites and 5.8 for Hispanics.

In New Orleans, where blacks make up 67 percent of the population, 27 percent of the residents are living below poverty level according to a recent study by Total Community Action, Inc. (search), a public advocacy group based in New Orleans.

But some warn that the new census bureau figures may not be an ideal measure, given that they do not take into account the impact of public assistance on a household, or recent tax cuts and child tax credits. Others say the poverty rate had been in steady decline since the early 1990's and see the recent increases as the tail end of the 2000 recession.

"It's a bit unfortunate to link the hurricane with the issue of poverty in this country," as though there has been no reduction in poverty since the 1980's, said Rey Hederman, senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation.

Since a high point in 1983 the poverty rate for the U.S has been on a decline, aside from the four years following the brief recession in 1989 and the most recent hike, according to the Census Bureau.

Like other economic analysts, Hederman believes the growth in productivity in the U.S economy will eventually produce more jobs and higher incomes for workers.

But so far, Hederman admits, that hasn't happened.

"We've got strong productive growth but wages have been relatively stagnant. It's a bit of a paradox as to why it hasn't happened sooner," said Phillip Swagel of the American Enterprise Institute, who blames, in part, the Internet bust six years ago.

Nonetheless, he calls today's economy "the most golden era for productivity growth" in more than 50 years.

"In the short term, it means that firms have been able to produce more without hiring more people," Swagel continued. "But in the long term, it will mean that wages and income will go up. It takes time for that relationship to take hold."

But on Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office (search) announced that hurricane's damage to the southeast could reduce national economic growth by nearly a percent at time when forecasters were hoping for a three to four percent increase by the end of the year. It also expects a loss of 400,000 jobs in the labor market.

Some say that inner cities that have never fully recovered from past economic recessions will no doubt be the hardest hit.

"I think for the last 25 years, we have had an economy where most of the gains have been concentrated in a small percentage of the workforce," said Danziger. "[The] rising tide has not lifted all boats, the economy has shifted so that a smaller portion of the population gets the increases, and the rest is simply happy to have jobs that experience no wage increase or income increases."

According to the recent Total Community Action study, poverty rates have remained stagnant in New Orleans in the last 40 years and even without the near total destruction of the city, have been the highest in the nation.

"It would be ironic that it would take a disaster like this to focus [national attention] on this,"

Rep. Mel Watt, R-N.C., and member of the Congressional Black Caucus (search), told FOXNews.com, "Every area of our lives these disparities exist and we have tried to focus on them all year."

Minority populations left behind in many cities often suffer from bad schools and are at a real disadvantage compared to their suburban middle class and affluent counterparts, say experts.

"The poverty differences by education, by race, by central city versus the suburbs, are long standing," said Danziger, who also said that by leaving New Orleans' most disadvantaged, immobile residents behind the hurricane "clearly brought that into stark contrast."

The Urban Institute’s Zedlewski admits that over the last several years more resources have been focused on the symptoms of poverty — poor education and healthcare.

"If you look at the long haul it is true progress has been made," she said, adding that more needs to be done, particularly in the African American community, regarding single motherhood, the high rate of incarcerated males and investing in adult education.

Swagel, who recently left his job as chief of staff for the White House Council of Economic Advisors (search), believes the current administration has put into place policies — notably tax cuts — that have stimulated growth and are benefiting middle and lower income families the most.

"I would say our policies are on the right track," he said. "They are working in the right direction, and we should not reverse course when things are improving."

Watt doesn't buy the tax cut stimulus scenario. "As soon as this President came in and passing these massive tax cuts, [the poverty rate] turned and went in the opposite direction," he said. "This administration is about supporting people of higher income and it makes no bones about it."

Meanwhile, thousands of displaced people from New Orleans are looking for jobs, and trying to begin new lives in places like Houston and Baton Rouge. Poverty advocates hope that in the long term, available education and job training opportunities, as well as the higher wages that have been promised by economists, aren't out of reach.

Lone_Gunman
October 6, 2005, 08:50 PM
The government, and no one else, determines who is, and is not, in a flood plain.

If a mortgage company gets a report that your property is not in a flood plain, then they will loan you money without flood insurance.

Most people figure if the government and the bank don't think you will flood, then you probably won't flood. Go figure.

In the case of New Orleans, residents in many places were told specifically that they did NOT need flood insurance, because of the levies. So people, taking the government at its word, did not buy any, and mortgage holders did not require it.

Looks to me like the federal government should be held liable for their mistake.

JohnBT
October 6, 2005, 11:59 PM
Personal responsibility. Their home, their investment, their decision to make.

If the government insisted on flood insurance somebody else would be complaining that they were pricing poor people out of the housing market.

I know, I know "The government made me do it." "It's the government's fault."
"Mommy, mommy, it's not fair."

I've been there. I know some of the poor people in NO knew why they buried folks above ground. Not being REQUIRED to carry a specific type of insurance has nothing to do with how wise it would be to carry it.

John

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