Those scenes were repeated hundreds of thousands of times in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina hit. For those in Mississippi, many of those 65,000 homeowners only found the slabs. Hours were spent trying to find the precious photos of children growing up, of weddings, of graduations, of grandparents and parents.
It is no easy task to rebuild communities. In Louisiana and Mississippi, we are faced with the prospect of rebuilding close to 200,000 homes. The largest city in Iowa is Des Moines. It has a population(194,000) near to the number of homes Hurricane Katrina destroyed. Try to imagine having to rebuild a city that size and then maybe you can grasp the scope of the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
This from Tigerhawk still upsets me. It did touch a nerve.
Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.
The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.
UPDATE (late Sunday afternoon): This post obviously touched a nerve. Oops. I certainly could have chosen my words more carefully. Sorry if I ruined Father's Day for any of you.
I guess we in Mississippi and Louisiana will have to wave our magic wands and poof, 200,000 homes will have magically been rebuilt in 2 1/2 years. I keep giving the numbers for houses destroyed. The 200,000 doesn't even begin to include the number of homes damaged. Look at it this way, in the six coastal counties directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, there were only 3,000 homeowners who did not have to file an insurance claim.
We in Mississippi and Louisiana have made great strides to rebuild our homes and communities. Hurricane Katrina, even though only a Catagory 3 storm as measured by NOAA, was a 500 year storm for us. The massive storm surge has been guestimated by NOAA to have been 28 feet in Bay St Louis. I believe that is wrong. It was 24 feet in Biloxi's Back Bay, 20-25 miles from bay St Louis. The storm surge extended into Alabama as well. It was 10 feet there.
The severity of the flood does matter. I take exception to Tigerhawk and his remarks about the 6,384 Mississippians still living in FEMA trailers. Considering that there used to be 40,000 of the FEMA trailers, we've hardly been "paralyzed". Instead of denigrating us, Tigerhawk and others of his ilk should be celebrating with us in Mississippi and Louisiana that we have confronted the flood and are making great progress in rebuilding our streets, our homes, our communities, and our lives. There are some who are taking advantage. It is telling that the vast majority of those prosecuted for Katrina aid fraud did not even live in Mississippi or Louisiana.
It doesn't matter were you live when a disaster strikes. There will always be those few who take advantage of the situation. Photos of looters in Louisiana were splashed across the airwaves. Mississippi had looters as well. Even Iowa has had its looters. Are to judge every Iowan by these two? No, of course not. Just as those in Louisiana and Mississippi should not be judged by its looters and those who are taking advantage of the generosity of Americans citizens and the Federal government.
Not only have we in Mississippi and Louisiana confronted the flood and begun the task of rebuilding, we've done so while being hampered by insurance issues. Many of the destroyed homes in Mississippi were not covered by flood insurance because those homes were in areas that have never been flooded in 100 years. Many are paying mortgages on concrete slabs. Government aid has been given to those homeowners. SBA homeowner loans have been given. The farmers in Iowa and other Mid-Western states are fortunate in that they disaster coverage as well as crop insurance. In Mississippi and Louisiana, homeowners are not so fortunate. Any disaster aid first is deducted by any insurance proceeds received. Farmers in Iowa and other Mid-Western receive many subsidies vie the Farm Bills that pass like clock-work in Congress.
Federal disaster aid will start coming in to help our fellow Americans in Iowa. The severity of the floods in Iowa affected many lives. I wish them well in rebuilding their lives. The floods of Katrina were massive and wide-ranging. It is that severity which dictates that some here are still in FEMA trailers 2 1/2 years later. It is that severity which dictates that some are still living with family or friends 2 1/2 years later. It is that severity which dictates that some who evacuated will never be able to return to the place they called home. The severity of the flood does dictate the rate of recovery. The Mississippi Gulf Coast alone lost 25% of its homes and a further 20% of its rental housing.
I know that the majority of those in Iowa will rebuild with the same determination as those in Mississippi and Louisiana. They will be able to get the job done much sooner because the severity of the floods in Iowa do not even come close to the severity of damage we in Louisiana and Mississippi suffered.
Update: Thank you Instapundit for linking.
Update 2: I wished I would have thought to post the following links earlier:
Chabad Flood Relief
Iowa Salvation Army
Iowa Red Cross
Humane Society Disaster Relief