SLABBED Daily – April 11

A beautiful day here – the perfect end for a demanding week – but I’m hopping like the Easter Bunny trying to catch up.  With weeds to pull, groceries to buy, and blog posts backed up, I am so very thankful I have no eggs to dye!

One of my catch-up strategies is checking comments that posted during the week.   Wright Thompson stopped by, I see.  Politics is a sport with an open season, IMO, and since Katrina, Mississippi and Louisiana have co-hosted the Olympics that ESPN hasn’t covered – maybe we’ll see more of Wright.

I also missed the  Southsbelle and due – who both stopped by while I was “out”.  Would love to see both of them more often.  I almost missed the news Main Street has gone Wall Street but a comment from Hal gave me that OMG moment and the link to Communities print their own money to keep cash flowing.

Thanks, Hal!  Good to know the “Bunny Bucks” on Main Street have real money behind them – not like that stuff they’ve been printing on Wall that doesn’t even cover the cost of the paper.

To follow up on yesterday’s post on the termination of Ivor van Heerden at LSU Editilla had some killer links over at today’s Ladder. First up is the Katrina surge hindcast:

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more about “Katrina Simulation“, posted with vodpod

Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 11”

Stupid is as stupid does: Scientific Integrity at LSU gets a black eye

Nowdy wasn’t lying yesterday when she said I was slabbed with work. I’m also slabbed by a nasty virus that has been going around since January but not so much that the significance of Ivor van Heerden’s dismissal from LSU was lost on me when I saw the news very early this morning.  I also knew when I saw it that Editilla would be all over it and indeed it headlines today’s New Orleans News Ladder which is where we begin:

This is a Bad News Corps Victory. This bad scene probably has as much to do with Dr. van Heerden’s Storm Surge Modeling running afoul of Gerald Galloway’s, the Storm Surge Modeling Business, FEMA Flood Zone Mapping and undue ASCECORPS influence in National Flood Control Policy.

I wish I could say it was just as simple as a bad news victory for the USACE but there is more as I discovered late this morning when a reader emailed me additional background:

van Heerden was responsible for the pre-Katrina animation of Hurricane Pam, which was largely ignored by the government and the insurance industry. Every time he speaks, he (rightfully) embarrasses someone who did not do their jobs.

Although van Heerden did not become an expert for hire in Katrina litigation, other members of the L.S.U. engineering department and geology/meteorology/climatology departments did for State Farm.  This was a “too cute” move by State Farm to try and lend LSU credibilty to its bs defenses.

Evidently it didn’t take too long for enterprising lawyers to make these guys look like fools in depositions. From a PR standpoint the fact these taxpayer paid college professors were working against the very people who paid their salaries was a disaster, kind of like the Allstate Challenge at the 2007 BCS National Championship game in NOLA when former LSU kicker David Browndike was booed off the field at halftime. The readers email concluded: Continue reading “Stupid is as stupid does: Scientific Integrity at LSU gets a black eye”

Wiped off the map by “double trouble”?

Sunday’s Sun Herald completes the picture of the double-trouble flood maps with two weekend stories that illustrate the challenges facing post-Katrina coastal Mississippi and Louisiana.

Admittedly, it’s also a challenge for those of us who live inland to understand how much control the federal government has over coastal property owners and their communities – much less the eventual impact this control has on a coastal state.

Consequently, it’s important to understand the stated purpose of the flood zone maps is to set flood insurance rates, regulate development in flood plains, and let people know about the risk they face.  It’s also helpful to be fluent in  FEMA-speak, which I’m not, or at least be familiar with two key terms A Zone (flood hazard zone) and V Zone (high flood potential velocity zones) and forgiving of my overly simple translation.

In Louisiana, FEMA’s new maps have triggered complaints from several parishes that the elevation data put too many towns in flood zones – guaranteeing they’ll never rebuild and recover from the hurricanes of 2005 and 2008.

If you recall Sop’s post, Political tap dancing Ground Zero style  the tap dancing took place in Bay St. Louis when much of that community was about to be mapped off the map, so to speak.  Let’s start with the update from Bay St. Louis. Continue reading “Wiped off the map by “double trouble”?”

Failed Everyone Miserably Again – the “F word is back

Ike inspired the good folks over in Texas to figure out what FEMA stood for – and the news that the “F-word” is blaming some of its failure on over-eaters in Louisiana inspired me to dig up the Texas story and dish it out.

When I made a quick stop by the Houston Chronicle to see how the Louisiana story was playing there, I found no indication of any coverage of over-eating in Louisiana – but I did find what happened to a lot of the ready-to-eat meals intended for Ike victims.

It took a hurricane for most Houston’s citizens to learn that Mayor Bill White has a temper.

After all, he not only rarely raises his voice in public, he rarely changes tones.

But those who have worked with him know him to be a man whose patience is short and who is more than ready to express his annoyance when people have not done the job he thinks they should have.

Some were surprised, however, to learn that he had used language unfit for Sunday school to express his anger last Tuesday at finding trucks loaded with ice, water and food sitting at the Reliant Center while thousands of people waited in lines for the supplies for hours at Points of Distribution (PODs).

White staffers were unapologetic for their boss’s use of crude language to two women from the Georgia Forestry Commission here to help distribute the food, ice and water.

Having been to POD sites and seen long lines of people waiting, then to Reliant and seeing long lines of 18-wheelers sitting, White said something to the effect of “You need to be getting these (expletive) trucks out of here.”

White’s office produced a log of deliveries showing that, two hours after opening, nine of 11 PODs had received no water or food, and only five had received ice.

After White’s outburst, things picked up.

“Maybe it was worth a word or two that rhymes with truck,” said White spokesman Frank Michel — thereby settling a discussion in at least one city office as to exactly what the word was. Continue reading “Failed Everyone Miserably Again – the “F word is back”

Obama replaces mumbo-jumbo with gumbo in selecting EPA chief from lower 9th ward

Gumbo replaces mumbo-jumbo as  Obama taps New Orleans native Lisa Jackson to lead Environmental Protection Agency

NEWSMAKER JACKSONLisa Perez Jackson… grew up…in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward…where her mother lived until Hurricane Katrina…[and]…was first in her class at St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans in 1979.

Jackson graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University, with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, before leaving Louisiana to get her master’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University…

As part of Obama’s energy and environment team Continue reading “Obama replaces mumbo-jumbo with gumbo in selecting EPA chief from lower 9th ward”

Your land, my land – and we’re at risk of losing more than Louisiana

wearenotalone-us-map-of-loss-risk22This land is your land. This land is my land. From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, This land was made for you and me

Seventy miles south of New Orleans, on the eastern end of Grand Isle, a small tide gauge records the Gulf of Mexico rising against the surrounding land. The monthly increases are microscopic, narrower than a single strand of hair.

Climate scientists recording those results think they add up to something huge. The gauge, they say, may be quietly writing one of the first big stories in the age of global warming: the obituary for much of southeast Louisiana.

losing-la475-top1The Times Picayune is recording, too – and you don’t won’t to miss the series Losing Louisiana.  Read the rest of the lede story in Part 1 that published this past Saturday.

The series is exceptional in every way – so language rich that two paragraphs into Part 2 that it begins to feel like you’re watching a movie as you engage every sense while reading the story and that’s before you get to the equally remarkable graphics.

From atop the bridge soaring over Bayou Lafourche, a sweeping panorama of the southeast Louisiana coast unfolds. Scattered strings of green marsh break up wide expanses of open water. Pelicans swing on the breezes. Fish jump across the waves as crabbers and oyster harvesters pursue their livelihoods in a postcard scene of a rich life close to nature. Continue reading “Your land, my land – and we’re at risk of losing more than Louisiana”

Significant inland wind damage from Gustav and Ike

I ran across two articles in the Insurance Journal that provide some additional insight on non-coastal areas that would benefit from expanding the National Flood Insurance Program to cover wind damage as well as flooding. Given my position the need is inland as well as coastal, the stories on wind damage from Hurricane Gustav in Alexandria, Louisiana and Hurricane Ike in Kentucky caught my eye.

Alexandria is about 150 miles from Morgan City and both are easy to spot on this map of Louisiana.

Officials say Hurricane Gustav inflicted more than $25 million worth of damage in Alexandria, La., when it blew through in early September.

The estimate exceeding more than $25 million does not include damage from wind and falling trees to individual homes nor does it include individuals’ costs related to power outages. (emphasis added)

About half of that amount came from estimated damage caused by roof collapses at the Alexandria Mall during Gustav…

Rebecca Mowbray’s story in the Times Picayune provides information that support for the NFIP expansion – information in quotes from Commissioner Donelon! Continue reading “Significant inland wind damage from Gustav and Ike”

Louisiana Legislature decides to punt and gives up score

One more example today of State insurance offices too cozy with the industry to remember they exist to serve the taxpayer.  The Insurance Journal has the story, Named storm deductibles – Louisiana Legislators want just 1 yearly.

The chairman of Louisiana’s Senate Insurance Committee says he will ask companies to use the percentage deductible for named storms only once for homes or businesses hit by both hurricanes this year.

Senator Don Cravis, a Democrat from Opelousas, says he, the chairman of the House Insurance Committee and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon are considering a bill to make such a limit mandatory. (emphasis added)

Many insurance companies are setting deductibles for named storms as a percentage of a property’s value – up to 5 percent. That could mean payments of up to $10,000 – $5,000 per storm – for someone whose $100,000 house has a 5 percent named storm deductable and was hit by both hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Donelon told the committee on that he could support a one-storm limit. But he said banning the special deductibles entirely would keep many companies from selling insurance in Louisiana. (emphasis added) Continue reading “Louisiana Legislature decides to punt and gives up score”

So, will claims handling really be different with Gustav and Ike?

Yesterday, we were getting comments that caused me to suggest some might find it helpful to read Chip Merlin’s September blog posts.  As an afterthought, I decided to make another visit myself.

I’m a big fan of Merlin’s and have read most, maybe all, of the posts on the blog. Nonetheless, although I understood and generally agreed with most everything in the post he’d added since my last visit, I’m not certain I got the message in State Farm Gears Up for Ike.

All of the companies with policy holders in the areas hit by Gustav and Ike appear to have geared up.  Allstate was actually the first to go public with an announcement they were ready and State Farm followed.  I wrote a post on the subject at the time.

Last night I found an interesting article from the Palm Beach Press indicating the gear up also included Hanna: Past failures spur insurance changes.

The current storm season is turning out to be the most active in terms of landfall since eight storms slammed into the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2005. But major homeowner insurers say they are ready to respond quickly to damage claims, a result of learning some tough lessons in those years.

The goal: Pay policyholders faster so that they can fix up their homes.

Indeed, four of the top five Florida insurers – Citizens Property Insurance Corp., State Farm, Allstate and USAA – say they are, among other things:

  • Expanding the use of mobile satellite vans that can process claims from affected areas wirelessly.
  • Switching from paper to electronic files.
  • Using the Internet to reach customers with damage.
  • Adding to the number of claims adjusters on call.
  • It’s all to be more responsive, the insurers say. As a group they came out of the busy 2004 and 2005 storm seasons with a collective black eye on claims handling. From customers of the five largest insurers alone, state regulators received more than 10,000 claims-related complaints after the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes…

    Still, there is no guarantee that homeowners won’t have problems.

    Paying policy holders faster, according to Merlin’s post, is a cost saving measure for insurers. Continue reading “So, will claims handling really be different with Gustav and Ike?”

    Watch wind suction in action

    I had this video clip linked the other day and when the link broke, I replaced it with another – but found it just now and thought everyone would want to take a look.  Pay particular attention to the wind sucking the roof off near the end of the clip.  You can see the result in the video linked here (I hope).

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    more about “Raw Video: Gustav Damage in Houma, Lo…“, posted with vodpod