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Location: Ames, Iowa, United States

Monday, February 14, 2005

Federal Aid For Disasters....A Disaster?

This piece in the LA Times today has a slightly misleading title. It quotes one person, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who has pointed out the obvious. Garamendi views the Federal Government bailing out those who suffer from disasters as a circular thing:

"But Insurance Commission John Garamendi said the federal help also can have negative effects.Because they can get grants and loans to fix damage, he said, some homeowners are likely to forgo purchasing better insurance coverage or doing more extensive damage-prevention work around their homes. Federal help also will make it easier for people living in inherently unstable areas, such as slide zones and flood plains, to stay where they are rather than move to safer ground.Garamendi said that when he was a deputy secretary of the Interior Department, the federal government frequently bailed out people who lived in flood areas near the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. "It's a good thing, because people need help," Garamendi said. "But people also need to take responsibility for themselves and not be depending on the largess of the federal government or political decisions of state or local governments.""

Now I guess there are some places that people shouldn't live. The article even states:

"Whether home repair assistance is provided will depend in large part on whether building permits are reissued for specific homes, said James Shebl, a FEMA spokesman."One of the questions is what about homes that are in imminent danger, which means you can't live there or shouldn't live there," Shebl said. "Some of the assistance is going to depend on a county's stance on permits."One place where residents are not guaranteed federal repair funds is La Conchita, where a massive mudslide buried homes and killed 10 people on Jan. 10. FEMA is providing temporary lodging to displaced La Conchita residents. But because the area is in an active landslide and county officials have urged resident not to return, it's unclear whether federal rebuilding assistance will be available."

Now if that stance by FEMA is taken to an extreme, there won't be very many places anyone can live. Move out of California (too many earthquakes). Avoid living in coastal areas (too many tsunamis). Stay out of the mountains (forest fires, mudslides, avalanches). Get away from low lying areas close to rivers (flooding). Stay away from major cities (terrorist attacks). Don't live on an island in the Pacific Ocean (tsunamis, or the Japanese might attack). Forget the northern midwest (missile silos are a target to atomic attack). And of course not overseas (everybody hates Americans).

Maybe we should just stick our heads in the sand.

I'll be back



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