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Monday, May 15

Are You Prepared? Are You Sure

And no, I'm not trying to get anyone to panic, but it is a cold, rainy morning and things are oddly quiet at the hospital this morning, so we're reading the local papers and finding some interesting articles far from the front page.

One in particular caught my eye, especially after Liz told us that her insurance policy had been cancelled and she is having trouble finding a new underwriter:

''The only way for municipalities to qualify for any hazard mitigation project is if they have a hazard mitigation plan that's approved by FEMA,'' said Geoff Reese, assistant executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.And working together provides an even greater benefit.

''Certainly in the statewide competitions they'll have somewhat of an upper hand in that we're getting a lot of bang with a buck dealing with two fairly urbanized counties with a sizable population base. They'll receive some advantage,'' said Killins.

Any leg up helps in the fierce competition for increasingly limited state and federal funding for the prevention and reduction of destruction from natural disasters.The state's most recent allotment for hazard mitigation was $350,000. At the federal level, funding has dropped from $250 million two years ago to $50 million in the most current budget, according to PEMA.

Yep, you read that right. All those tax cuts for the top 5% and guess where that money (or at least some of it) is coming from. Not that I'm surprised, this has actually been going on for quite a while. Here in NE PA, we got hit with a horrible, destructive ice storm in Jan of 2005, we were declared a disaster area; roads were impassable, many homes were without electric and heat for a week or more and we had loss of life. No one stepped in to help us either, and up here its basically white, middle to upper class, of West European descent. So no, the race card had nothing to do with it, the Feds just don't care.

Luckily, like most residents of the colder regions, many residents are well supplied for the winter months with pantries full of non-perishibles, propane tanks for the grill for cooking, many have wood/pellet/corn stoves for secondary heat/cooking source and quite a few have generators 'just in case' and many of us tend to be neighbourly and took in other families that didn't have what they needed to survive. But then we also don't have the population density that NOLA does (did) or the populations and ethnic/cultural divides that big cities, like New York, Philly, etc have.

But this does bring me to the next logical step. STATES are being asked to draw up detailed disaster preparedness plans that need to be submitted to FEMA for approval and funding. FEMA does not HAVE the funding necessary to implement a majority of these plans. Homeowners are losing their insurance policies (possibly based on these reports?) and cannot find new plans or cannot afford new plans. So where, exactly does this leave us? The Middle Class Home Owner... the last few keepers of what used to be the American Dream?

What does this administration have to gain by destroying the Middle Class? And I'm not just speaking economically, in this case we are talking of physical destruction; the loss of life, limb and property. I noticed the uproar over NOLA has died down to a soft growling roar, which still surprises me, I honestly expected citizens to take to the streets over that clusterfuck, but of course a new boogie man / distraction came up.

But think about this: We KNOW (via observation and scientific methods) that severe weather patterns are growning - storms are becoming far more intense and destructive, more frequent and MANY blue states grew up along coasts and rivers as the country grew and expanded. What will happen if another storm like Katrina winds its way northward? Hits the Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania area? The concentration of population is extremely high, we have a lot of technology here, also a lot of toxic sites that will poison the area for decades if it overflows its retainers. And where will those populations (at least those that survive) be 're-located'?

Not doomsaying or anything, just thinking out loud.....

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