Ship for Brains: Emeril Blasts Port Plans

As a Port of Gulfport slabee who saw first hand the inadequacy of the decision making from Don Allee’s office prior to Hurricane Katrina their neighborhood ruining, ill advised westward expansion plan came as no shock to me when it was announced early this year. The plan ran into a buzz-saw of local opposition lead by Rick Carter, whose Island View Casino would lose it’s Island View had the Port filled in the sea-bottom and expanded to the west. Today we are greeted with this story in the Sun Herald on Emeril Lagasse coming out in opposition to the Port’s plans, no doubt in a preemptive strike as Allee and company seem determined to spoil the area’s fragile ecology even further.

Bam! With a bad taste in his mouth, one of the South’s most famous chefs wants to send the Port of Gulfport’s expansion plan back to the kitchen. Continue reading “Ship for Brains: Emeril Blasts Port Plans”

Is this is the kind of coastal development Mr. Hunter can live with….

Yesterday evening we were greeted with news on WLOX TV about the Wyndham Hotel having plans to come to the Biloxi waterfront with a 24 story hotel development.

Biloxi may have found the non-gaming anchor that it needs to reinvigorate its waterfront. Wyndham Hotels presented a plan to the Biloxi City Council that would bring the world’s largest hotelier to the small craft harbor.

The story continues:

McElroy’s Seafood Restaurant was always considered a special part of Biloxi’s harbor area. But like so many other businesses, it got washed away by Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading “Is this is the kind of coastal development Mr. Hunter can live with….”

Eye of the Storm

I was looking at the Times Picayune early this morning and ran across this 25 minute video they put together.  I listened to it in the background while I made my rounds and I think our readers will enjoy watching it. This is their story of how they covered the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans in those dark early days.

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Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds….

Busy doesn’t describe my office on March 28th of a typical year for us and this year is no different. Having finally fully restaffed last fall plus the increase in business leaves me with many options where to spend time such as quality control on the work product produced the staff (i.e. checking business and personal income tax returns), meeting and delivering my work product to my business clients or seeing the many business prospects that are still looking for a construction specialized CPA.

Yesterday deliveries and meetings took me from Columbia to Bay St Louis.  Today I run from Gulfport to Slidell and points in between. The time demands leave me right at 2 minutes to pen three or so posts on topics I find interesting. This missive is the gumbo post where I mix all the little items – hopefully into something good.

First stop is Jackson and the Clarion Ledger, where the very colorful and ineffective Mayor finds himself still cleaning up his messes from years ago. The foibles of Frank Melton normally would not darken the pages of this blog but it appears those he libeled tried to drag the Good Hands people into their suit filed against him by two people in law enforcement. Continue reading “Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds….”

Gene Taylor in his Own Words

Folks this final installment of our Gene Taylor Youtube series is courtesy of Kdreporter, a news intern with the ABC affiliate in Santa Barbara California who interviewed Gene last summer. So lets climb on in the FEMA trailer and hear Gene on Katrina, FEMA and Multi-peril insurance in his own words.

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Happy New Year from the Mississippi Gulf Coast

When I agreed to take on this project the possibility it may fail crossed my mind, after all, the sum total of our collective experience on blogger could fit in a thimble. Motivated by those who are actively working against the people on the coast getting a fair shake from their insurer we began undaunted by the long odds that we could actually interest a potential readership in this very complex issue.

While the spillover from the “insurance wars” captivates the nation we continue to stick to our knitting of educating the public on the very real problems exposed by Katrina’s wind and water over two years ago. Though we have not been burning up the proverbial commentary meter, Coastal Cowboy summed up our goal best early on, “The measure of our success will not be the amount of comments we get or the number of readers we attract, rather it is having the RIGHT folks reading us.”

By that measure our first month online is a resounding success as we’ve attracted readers from 3 foreign countries as well as from across the US. We count people from diverse places like Washington DC, Lincoln Nebraska, and Bloomington Illinois to small towns like New Albany, Mississippi among our readership. We hope to continue educating all on our perspective, that of ordinary men and women here on the coast who struggle with the costs of insurance everyday and the related local fallout from insurance companies refusing to honor their contracts on the coast post Katrina.

So we thank our readers, even those who may disagree with our viewpoint, for spending time with us this past month as we too hope the New Year brings resolution to more of the good folks of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. God Bless us all in 2008.

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“Lawyer

We end the third year since Katrina with more lawyers shoveling smoke in Mississippi than in any other state – certainly on a per capita basis, if not by actual count. The question yet to be answered is “Where’s the fire?”

Katrina left over 60,000 Mississippi families homeless. One of those happened to be the family of a man the Wall Street Journal has called the King of Torts. To those on the Coast slabbed first by Katrina and then by their insurance provider, he was known as Dickie, King of Hope

Now, he has lawyers; his son has lawyers, his associate has lawyers and there is no longer a group of lawyers known as the Scruggs Katrina Group – and all are shoving smoke blown their way by a lawyer named Balducci – reportedly working for either Scruggs or SKG – who made what can only be called a significant error in judgment by either attempting to bribe a judge or confessing to such. There’s still too much smoke to tell exactly which it was; but, under all that smoke is a case filed against Scruggs by a group of lawyers that were associated with the Katrina Group. Now they have lawyers, too.

We’ve got such a booming lawyer business going here that our Insurance Commission picked up the tab for lawyers to represent State Farm when SKG deposed a member of the Department’s staff on matters related to claims filed by State Farm policy holders. The Commissioner had to get approval to pay State Farm’s lawyers from the Attorney General who has lawyers of his own because State Farm is suing him – remember Mississippi is the Hospitality State. Come to find out, that what we got for our money was a State Farm lawyer telling the man, “Don’t answer that”.

In light of that shovel full of smoke, it’s hard to believe that State Farm has now filed a suit to make Scruggs “answer that” – at least, they’re paying their own lawyers this time. If you’re confused, don’t be ashamed. The judge got so confused he couldn’t tell whose interest Scruggs was representing. It seems like he could have asked; but, at Ground Zero, points of law and common sense can be two entirely different matters.

We don’t shovel smoke here at the Mississippi Insurance Forum. Our purpose is to blow all the smoke away and see if there’s any fire under the hot tin roof that’s smoldering down here – and that would be Tennessee Williams and not John Gresham, by the way. Stay tuned for more and Happy New Year.

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.”

Home for Christmas…only in dreams

Since Christmas 2004, many of the people of Katrina Ground Zero have been home for Christmasonly in their dreams.

All do dream. Whatever they called “home” – humble or grand, rented or owned, is gone. Some 14,000 are celebrating yet another Christmas in a travel trailer. Others are sharing space in another family’s home. Many of those able to find temporary housing found little more than a roof over their head.

The emotional and financial toll is staggering and there is no Santa Clause delivering a Gulf Coast version of Miracle on 34 Street for those caught in the crossfire of the “insurance war” or the logjam in Congress over HB3121.

As they have done since Katrina, the people of Ground Zero continue to give to others at Christmas – even when all they have to give is themselves.

Although most had been “slabbed” by Katrina, the remaining members of the Coast Choral – about one-third the number before the storm – gathered to sing their annual concert that first Christmas. Yet unable to replace the music and other items lost to Katrina by Christmas 2007, they continue to bring “Joy to the World of Ground Zero.

In the spirit of Christmas, please remember the people of Ground Zero who will be home for Christmas…only in dreams.

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The Right Side of Hurricane Katrina

The right side of a hurricane is the wrong side to be on.

You could take that sailor’s warning to the bank after Katrina – if there had been one after Katrina.

The weather wizards say “ground zero” is where the eye of a hurricane makes landfall.

Katrina’s eye passed just to the right of the Louisiana-Mississippi state line in Hancock County, Mississippi. We’re the orange spot on the map.

Of course, it didn’t take the wisdom of a wizard for any of us to figure out we were “ground zero”. All we had to do was take a look around and see nothing – “zero” – on the “ground” escaped Katrina’s wrath.

There’s still more nothing than something down here, rebuilding is stalled in the court, the economy is heading further south, and some are starting to wondering if we haven’t hit “Ground Zero for Hope”.

The right side of an insurance claim is the wrong side on after a hurricane.

When you purchase a homeowner’s policy with hurricane coverage, you expect the insurance provider to know what a hurricane is and what it does. If they don’t, you’d sure expect them to look it up and not make it up. Nonetheless, make it up appears to be exactly what some did.

All 82 Mississippi counties were included in the disaster declaration and 60% (49) were eligible for full federal disaster assistance. The insurance folks north of the Coast didn’t seem to have a problem understanding that water damage is covered if the wind blows a hole in your roof and water gets in your house.

Most of us didn’t even have a roof after Katrina blew through here. You would think, then, it wouldn’t be hard for the ones they sent down here to figure that water damage was done before the surge followed Katrina inland. Actually, it appears they did figure it out – probably right about the time they started trying to figure out ways to get by without paying when all that Katrina left behind was a slab.

The wrong side of a hurricane to be on is the one it takes a lawyer to make right.