HR3121 News Out Today

Folks, when Gene Taylor isn’t fighting us here on the Coast he is looking after our Mississippi boys serving in Iraq, this time bringing them 50 gallons of Tony Trapani’s best seafood gumbo for a special Christmas Eve dinner in Iraq. Now Gene is not some tin horn chicken hawk content to send other people sons and daughters to fight George Bush’s war as his own flesh and blood is on the wall for us in Middle East. God bless Gene Taylor and his service to all of us here in the Mississippi 4th congressional district.

There are two stories out today about the status of HR3121. Some local background is in order as it was clear to me back in August at Gene’s town hall meeting that the assembled democratic leadership (which included Jim Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi) saw our nation’s coastal insurance problems as a potent campaign issue. Gene may have taken the first shot today at a now locally famous GOP corporate water boy, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.

“The Senate bill was sponsored by banking committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Taylor said he can understand Dodd’s objections because of the insurance interests headquartered in his state. “Shelby is the one I keep scratching my head over,” said Taylor, who thought the senator would support the measure because of his constituents in coastal Alabama.”

Now it appears the AP story picked up by the Clarion Ledger derives from Anita Lee’s story at the Sun Herald but contains a few paragraphs (the last two in this excerpt) not found in the Sun Herald piece:

“Taylor, D-Miss., who represents south Mississippi in Congress, said Wednesday that people won’t build back on the Gulf Coast until they are able to buy insurance they can depend on.

Critics of multiple-peril insurance say such a program would be financially unsound, leading to more debt on top of the $20 billion NFIP incurred from Hurricane Katrina.

Taylor said it would be better to spread hurricane risk among coastal states rather than have individual states assume those risks. Mississippi, for example, offers wind insurance for six coastal counties. Florida and other states also have wind pools.”

To date this Cowboy is not aware of one shred of evidence these “critics” have presented to support their assertion that HR 3121 would be financially unsound. Also the critics the story quotes leave out the unpleasant fact that it has been alleged that as much as $9 BILLION dollars of wind claims may have been dumped on the taxpayers via the flood program.

Down here folks when someone intentionally spreads a half truth it’s called, “pissing on your leg and saying it’s raining.” When it comes to the debate on HR3121 and it’s unnamed critics, it’s best to come to the hoe down equipped with an umbrella.

Mr. Rogers Couldn’t “Make Believe” this Neighborhood

Before Katrina, the mix of neighborhoods in the three coastal counties of Mississippi was typical small town America and the place called home to those living there.


Home after home looked like this in neighborhoods from Ground Zero to the Alabama state line after Katrina. Because the wind had earlier blown the roof off this house, when the water came, the lucky owner and his family were able to roof raft their way to safety in what he later called the ultimate water ride.

Over two years after Katrina, this home and countless others look like this – each in some way a casualty of the insurance war. Many, like this homeowner, are victims of the uncertainty. As Mr. Rogers sang, he “wants to have a neighbor just like you…to live in a neighborhood with you.”

Rebuilding is more than construction. Neighborhoods are the infrastructure of both the built and social community. Unless a home owner can self insure, he is limited to the current $250,000 limit of flood insurance since windstorm policy recovery has proven problematic. At the current cost of construction, that equates to a home of approximately 1800 square feet – larger than the largest Katrina Cottage but considerably smaller than many of the homes lost to the storm.

The longer the uncertainty lingers, the more difficult it becomes to rebuild the social community. Social networks provide relationships that connect people to essential social supports in much the same way that roads connect the built community. Many consider these social networks “the ‘scaffolding’ or framework upon which successful community-building efforts are created.”

The wind came first, then the water – washing away all but the truth. “Somewhere deep inside each one of us human beings is a longing to know that all will be well.”