December 29, 2005

The "Ghost Coast" Is Not Forgotten

Four months after Hurrican Katrina slammed ashore, the catastrophic destruction of the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf coasts have been all but forgotten by the media (and Wikipedia).

On December 14, the Sun-Herald posted an editorial, Mississippi's Invisible Coast asking for at least some media attention by focused on those outside of New Orleans.

It begins:

As Aug. 29 recedes into the conscious time of many Americans, the great storm that devastated 70 miles of Mississippi's Coast, destroying the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands, fades into a black hole of media obscurity.

Never mind that, if taken alone, the destruction in Mississippi would represent the single greatest natural disaster in 229 years of American history. The telling of Katrina by national media has created the illusion of the hurricane's impact on our Coast as something of a footnote.

The awful tragedy that befell New Orleans as a consequence of levee failures at the time of Katrina, likewise, taken by itself, also represents a monumental natural disaster. But, of course, the devastation there, and here, were not separate events, but one, wrought by the Aug. 29 storm.

There is no question that the New Orleans story, like ours, is a compelling, ongoing saga as its brave people seek to reclaim those parts of the city lost to the floods.

But it becomes more and more obvious that to national media, New Orleans is THE story - to the extent that if the Mississippi Coast is mentioned at all it is often in an add-on paragraph that mentions "and the Gulf Coast" or "and Mississippi and Alabama."

Read the whole thing.

The mainstream media has once again dropped the ball. It is up to us to tell the tale of a battered land and a proud people outside of New Orleans.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 29, 2005 09:49 AM | TrackBack

I understand the coastal residents of MS are having to bring law suits against their insurance companies. The insurance companies claim "flood" caused the damage which is not covered and the residents claim the flood was directly attributable to the "hurricane winds" pushing an extreme tide. It's a catch 22 situation at present, but nonetheless, the residents are without insurance payments with which to re-build. Most MS coastal residents are still "homeless". Speaks well for our compassionate throw-money-at-it left stream media. I guess there weren't enough black people living along the MS coast to warrant continued coverage. If the LSM were to keep the heat on, I'm sure the insureance companies would see the light and start paying up (or out as it were). This is a case where the LSM could actually provide a benefit for people in need and where are they?

These insurance companies remind me of some of the stories that the LSM circulated during the build up for the first Gulf War; that many guard, reserve and active component military people had only signed up to obtain "college benefits" not realizing they would actually be required to go to war. The insurance companies accepted the premium payments and now don't want to pay up... and the silence from the LSM is deafening! I guess it just doesn't fit in a "it's all Bush's fault" bucket, so it is a non-story.

Posted by: Old Soldier at December 29, 2005 10:57 AM

Thanks for posting this. It is gratfefully appreciated by us in Mississippi. All of us are trying to deal with it in our ways.

Posted by: seawitch at December 29, 2005 11:36 AM

Well I for one wish all of you down there the best of luck/health and hope 2006 brings you a better year.

Posted by: Retired Navy at December 29, 2005 12:56 PM

I have been following the reconstruction and relief efforts for quite some time, and the whole issue with insurance proceeds is something that I predicted early on would be a major obstacle to rebuilding (though I know I am not alone in recognizing the problems with flood insurance or the lack thereof among the thousands of affected businesses and residences).

Posted by: lawhawk at December 29, 2005 02:11 PM

I live close to the water and am required to carry flood insurance, my neighbor behind me who lives just as close wasn't required (but carry it anyway). Even if a flood wiped out my area I still wouldn't trust the insurance company not to file bankrupcy letting the government bail them out before having to pay on the numerous policies that would be filed. They have done it along the Mississippi before and would probably do it again. Just like arguing that it was or wasn't flood damage if it was storm pushed waves. Still sounds like a flood to me though.

Posted by: Retired Navy at December 29, 2005 02:36 PM

While I feel for the people of the Gulf Coast and do not approve of the "shell game" played by insurance companies with their customers, the real problem is the whole system has made owning coastal property deceptively cheap for too long. Fifty years ago, if you had a place at the beach, it was a bungalow of wood and cinder block built on stilts to avoid tidal surge. Today, people build 5,000 square foot homes as close to the dunes as they can and fill them with nice furniture. Coastal property is always vulnerable and the potential for loss should never be forgotten. We need to rethink the way we build on the coast, as well as how we price disaster insurance for those who are brave enough to still undertake it.

Posted by: Gus at December 29, 2005 09:27 PM

The Mississippi Coast does not have dunes like Alabama and Florida. The majority of homes that were on the beach front had been there for around 100 years. Some had been there for almost 150 years. Most were 12 to 14 feet above sea level.

The insurance dispute is homeowners are trying to get storm surges reclassified from a flood. It started in Florida and has been carried to Mississppi. Also, in Mississippi some homeowners are saying that there was substantial wind damage to their homes before the storm surge came in and they may be correct. Some videos indicate the surge coming in after the winds had already been 130+ for at least a couple of hours.

Posted by: seawitch at December 29, 2005 11:05 PM

We have the same issues here in the Florida panhandle from IVAN, the insurance companies are doing everything they can to slither out of paying even a year after IVAN.

Posted by: Joe at December 29, 2005 11:37 PM

Here's a good one from my sister's insurance company. She had a lot of roof damage and one room recieved water damage from the rain pouring in. On the first analysis from the insurance company on the breakdown of repairs, they said she was allowed to hire a carpenter for $1.00 an hour. She was not affected in any manner by the storm surge.

We have the same insurance company. I told her at the beginning of the claims process she wouldn't have a thing to worry about because during Elena, my ex and I had part of our roof blown off and our insurance agent had a check for the repairs in a week. It was the same insurance company.

It's an added aggrevation to have to fight the insurance companies for a settlement that will allow all necessary repairs to be done.

Posted by: seawitch at December 30, 2005 07:20 AM

Seawitch, my heart and prayers go out to you, your family, friends and neighbors. It's one thing to lose your home or have it severely damaged and quite another to have to legally battle your insurance company for a settlement. God bless you all.

Posted by: Old Soldier at December 30, 2005 07:40 AM

Thanks for posting this. Of course there are terrible problems in N.O., but Mississippi and Alabama have been nearly forgotten.

Posted by: Mary Ann at January 3, 2006 08:28 PM