19 March 2006

If You Tell a Lie Big Enough and Keep Repeating It, People Will Eventually Come to Believe It PART 1: New Orleans Nat'l Flood Insurance Participation


Where the Money is Going Map from the Times-Picayune:
PDF. Not surprisingly Lakeview and Chalmette have the most to-be-paid claims both totaling over one billion dollars each. Mid-City, Gentilly, and New Orleans East have between 500 million dollars and one billion worth of flood claims.

The lead article in today's Times-Picayune is entitled "After Katrina, pundits criticized New Orleans, claiming too many residents had no flood insurance. In fact, few communities were better covered." The two following examples cited from the article typify the erroneous and misleading information that continues to plague perception and hamper the rebuilding of New Orleans.

The opening two paragraphs of the piece:


In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, public officials and insurance experts predicted that the vast majority of property losses from the most costly flood in U.S. history would be uninsured.

Members of Congress rose up in righteous indignation to scold residents of New Orleans, one of the most vulnerable cities in America, for failing to buy federal flood insurance and then coming hat in hand and asking to be bailed out with federal money.

The irony, now revealed in data painstakingly worked up by aides to Donald Powell, the Bush administration's liaison to the disaster zone, is that Louisiana was a more enthusiastic participant in the National Flood Insurance Program than any other state in the nation.

Ooops. I liked the "scolding" part. Are any apologies going to be issued? Did any member of Congress even consider talking to the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program people before openly chastising Louisiana? Actually, flood insurance or no flood insurance, our impacted citizens and businesses should be bailed out 100% by federal money as the failure of federally constructed levees and floodwalls is the sole reason for this disaster. Unlike this bullshit (and to be quite honest downright offensive) claim that "Louisiana Owes Texas," I would dare say the federal government indeed owes the City of New Orleans and the Parish of St. Bernard for their mistake. But actually, it is owed because two thirds of our citizens have been paying flood insurance premiums for years and years so its time for the NFIP to ante up. This isn't just entitlement just because as some would have you believe--this money is the return of an investment paid year after year.

But wait, there's more . . .

"Although flood insurance is heavily subsidized, many -- even most -- property owners in New Orleans do not buy this insurance, expecting the federal government to bail them out whether or not they are insured," said Cato Institute Chairman William Niskanen in testimony to Congress about the disaster in September.

Niskanen was wrong about New Orleans. And like New Orleans, the rest of state also participates heavily in the flood insurance program.

Did Mr. Niskanen just make this up? Did he or his staff do ANY research at all before he spoke this mis-truth during Congressional testimony as New Orleans and its surroundings still sat underwater? Perhaps it was just the assumption that the freeloading, not-working, government cheese eating citizenry of New Orleans was just too darn stupid to buy even heavily-subsidized (which they all should like right?) flood insurance.

Can any of these people do any research before they start yapping?????? More examples of "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it" to come . . . .

UPDATE: Harry Shearer comments on the New Orleans and Louisiana and the National Flood Insurance Program.

UPDATE2: Kinch at Building Big Easy makes an excellent point I omitted in my above rant. The existing 1980's-released FEMA FIRM maps told residents in many areas which did flood post-KTMB (such as along the Gentilly Ridge) that they weren't at risk for flooding. Therefore, they were part of the 1/3 of the property owners that opted not to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.