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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Some Subtle Spin

I’ve read Eugene Robinson for a long time – and generally liked him – but this is not helpful:

The wealthy strip of high ground alongside the Mississippi River that didn't flood -- the French Quarter, the central business district, the Garden District, Uptown -- resembles the footprint of the city circa 1850. They call this strip the Island, and while life there hasn't quite returned to normal, it's close enough for people to spend time devising new post-disaster routes for the upcoming Mardi Gras parades.

Life’s pretty much normal on “the Island”? That may depend upon one’s definition of normal, which is often interpreted to include jobs, returned businesses, restaurants, day cares, etc. And while he’s right about the miles and miles of devastated wasteland, what's this about?

But the homeowners of Holy Cross didn't have flood insurance. They weren't eligible for it because the area wasn't considered a flood plain.

They weren't eligible? Mr. Robinson makes this sound as if they flat out couldn’t have it. Not allowed. Nope.

Is that true?

I just spent the last two hours online, trying to find something - anything - clear on this. Why, one might wonder, would it take so long? Because what was given out by insurers and New Orleans was misleading.

Yes, there are zones in New Orleans that were “not required” to have flood insurance. What I didn’t see much of – anywhere – were the words “optional” or “recommended” - and that is a real problem.

From FEMA’s National Flood Insurance site:

There's a big difference between having to buy flood insurance because the law says you must and choosing to buy flood coverage because it's in your best interests to do so. We recommend that all property owners purchase and keep flood insurance because it is the best means of recovery from flood damaged.

The floodplain maps contributed enormously to NOLA residents’ low flood insurance coverage, but that would be due to a false sense of security – not because they weren't allowed to have it.

Am I missing something? (It’s happened before…)

To me, this type of “spin” (and yes, I see it as spin) is divisive and misleading. I’m having trouble understanding his motives here.


  • At 10:45 PM, Blogger D. Sorrell said;

    I think Robinson made a mistake, or at least I couldn't find evidence supporting that they weren't eligible.

    Now, I could have made mistakes also, and I'm not finished looking into it, but...

    I first found the ZIP code, as a starting point, for the Lower Ninth. (70117) from the Greater NO Community Data Center. Then, looking at the flood map, for that ZIP, I noticed large areas appearantly labeled B, which require no insurance, ironically, because they are above base elevation and are "areas protected from floods by levees." Was there any consideration of a break?

    Maybe my map reading is wrong, but what I suspect, as you mentioned is that there was a "false sense of security." If you told me my flood risk is low, its not required, and I have to stretch my dollars as is, I'm forgoing it also.

    The new maps will kill those neighboorhoods, I'm guessing.

  • At 12:33 AM, Blogger TravelingMermaid said;

    Although I live in a so-called no flood zone here in Algiers (not "eligible"?), I have always had flood insurance. It just made sense to me, considering the geographic location of the city. We can do without a 2nd cell phone or eat out less frequently to pay the roughly 300.00 yearly premium. A small sacrifice for protecting your home.

  • At 4:26 PM, Blogger CapnTuna said;

    What many do not realize is that people in and around New Orleans purchased flood insurance because it was either required by their mortgage company or for rain water flooding. Everyone expected the levees to hold, except for the folks who were here for 'Betsy'.

  • At 5:57 PM, Blogger Rebecca said;

    I heard an "ineligible" story in November from Gulfport. A friend of mine's sister lives there and when they bought their house, many years ago (it was paid for free and clear when the storm hit and leveled it) they had asked about flood insurance. According to her, they were told they could not buy it. I pressed, she said, "They were told they were not in a flood plain and were not allowed to buy flood insurance." So they didn't. Now the house is leveled, the homeowner's gave them less than a third of what it was worth, blaming the majority of the damage on "flooding." Could it be that when they bought the house, nearly 30 yrs ago, rules were different? Different insurance companies forbidding it? Maybe if not in a FEMA flood zone area, no coverage? I was confused too and still am, but it's not the first or last time I've heard this story so there's gotta be something to it. Where did the wheels fall off on this? The homeowner's ignorance or frugality or were they lied to? I don't know. It's disturbing though.

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