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struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 02:14 PM   #1
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struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

It's probably far too early to take lessons from the hurricane, but I am SO struck by how many people stayed put while the monster bore down on them. And how many of them paid with their lives.

I myself was renting a house in the Berkeley Hills when the firestorm came through 15 years ago. I was working that Sunday in downtown Berkeley (that was before my brains came in!). I saw the plume go over, and watched out the window as the fire inched down the hill toward my place, but while my housemate and many others went TOWARD the fire to rescue belongings I was never even tempted to try that. I was renting, which makes a HUGE difference, but still, everything I owned in the world was in that house.

How does this relate to this forum, you may ask? For me it raises the question of what I'd do, today, to protect the property I've spent years working for. Would I "git while the gittin's good" if threatened? Or would I try to protect my place against the storm / looters / etc.? Most of the stay-behinds seem like poor people with few resources and no way out, but many others seem to have stayed voluntarily.

I remember Harry Truman staying in his place on Mt. St. Helens 25 years ago while the mountain rumbled. He's still there under a couple of hundred feet of ash and mud...

This is NOT a "blame-the-victim" message by any means -- when I think about coming home to my beloved little house and seeing it erased from its location, I can't imagine it. I just wonder how many of us would risk our lives to save our property? Or more accurately -- to avoid having to start all over again? And should a decision like that be left to the last emotion-laden minute -- or do people on this forum already have evacuation plans / philosophies in place today?

Anyone else faced that choice? What did you do? What WOULD you do if the unthinkable happened?

Caroline



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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 02:24 PM   #2
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

If it came down to it, I'd put what I could in our two cars, maybe including the cats, and git. Everything is fully insured, and I can buy a new house, new cheap plastic crap, etc. I can't buy a new life or wife or kid.

(edit) I live in a floodplain, and we get remnants from hurricanes occasionally. It normally isn't that bad though. I'd probably risk it and stay put unless a major cat 5 was coming this way straight towards us. Or if there was an evacuation notice. Then I'd be gone!!
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 02:31 PM   #3
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

I've never faced that choice, but its possible, given that I live a mile or two from the coast. *No question: I'd pack up the dogs, the cat, the kiddo, and whatever else I could grab in 15 minutes (paperwork, medication, contact lenses, food & water) and off we'd go. *The damn house is insured.

But most of the people on this board aren't typical. *Most of us have large net worth outside of our houses. *I was reading about a family that fled and ran out of money after three days of renting three $50 a night hotel rooms. *I suspect that most of us wouldn't even sneeze at the price.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 02:32 PM   #4
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Thankfully I have not lost much to Mother Nature despite being through huricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and a flood. *

Important papers are in the fireproof safe.

Money is not in the house.

Pictures (digital anyway) are backed up on CDs and stored in the safe. *The other photos will be converted after RE *(project #437) and then stored in the safe. *

Anything else is just "stuff" and will either stay or go depending on its own carma. *You can't keep everything. *My family is poor in cash but rich in memories and some of these are tangible items that have been passed down and around. *Those would be lost but I see no way to save them. *I will not risk my life or family member to save "stuff". *
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 02:45 PM   #5
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

I think a variety of factors go into people not leaving in the face of probable disaster. What I have read about New Orleans is that a large number who didn't leave didn't have cars or other means to leave, or the wherewithall to pay for a place to stay. A number ended up in the stadium but many just hoped for the best. Sad situation.

Another factor might be that false alarms in the past about disasters might lead people to believe that chance of devastation was really low. It is like hearing about terror alerts every day. After a while you don't pay attention. Or the tornado sirens going off, and people going outside to look. Nothing happened in the past, why should it now.

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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 02:55 PM   #6
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Had a major brush fire a few years back that gave us our wake up call. *Plan started out very complicated and as we've fallen out of love with stuff it has gotten much easier. *One of the keys was really looking at our insurance. *I used to stress about losing the classic corvette so we tripled the insurance. *Now I'm stress free and in fact, I may *be fanning the flames
Photos on CD's, lists of bond #'s etc are updated monthly and stored at two locations away from the house.
Stickers on the windows telling rescuers to save the dog (not that she is ever more than 2 feet from me)
DW and I each have our assigned stuff to haul out. (one trip only)
My box is called the "battle box" (from another life) and it includes all the papers that would be tough to replace, phone numbers, cash, a hand gun, (in case the money runs out), credit cards, lap top,etc. *I fear that the DW is hauling mainly jewlery- -sigh.
The most important thing we did, however, was simply sit down and wargame exactly what we would have to be holding in our hands to enable a recovery preferably the easy way. We found we could pretty much do everything with the Proper ID, a few phone #'s, and of course, time.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 03:01 PM   #7
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

I just thought people were being stubborn idiots until I heard most people stayed because they were too poor to get out, then I got mad all over again, thinking more should have been done to help these people before the storm hit. I guess there was just no time.

O.K., so this is going to sound mercenary or worse, but what effect might this have on the real estate market in the area? Yes, yes, I know, there is a lot less real estate, but do you think people will be looking to sell, or will all the demand for a shrunk supply raise prices? Is this the time to buy stock in construction?

Geez, that sounds bad. I don't want to make light of the hell people are going through, just thinking out loud about all the different economic ripples this will cause.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 03:07 PM   #8
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
O.K., so this is going to sound mercenary or worse, but what effect might this have on the real estate market in the area? Yes, yes, I know, there is a lot less real estate, but do you think people will be looking to sell, or will all the demand for a shrunk supply raise prices?
Knowng how screwed up the RE market is today, NO property values probably just went up. Thousands of homes are now waterfront property... :P

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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 03:13 PM   #9
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Unfortunately, 7th or 8th row Mississippi coastal houses are now oceanfront.

My theory of buy 2nd row, and wait for it to become oceanfront wouldn't have helped me much in this situation.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 03:21 PM   #10
 
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Caroline, you and I have something in common. We lost our house in the Oakland firestorm. We were away for the day, so we didn't have a chance to save anything.

The only things worth saving are the photos and videos. I now regularly mail a CD of all our pictures to my sister in case something like that happens again.

Losing everything is sad, but it's mostly a colossal bother. Quite an experience.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 03:35 PM   #11
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Well, lots of people are now moving to Houston. The Astrodome is going to be their new home for a few weeks / months.. strange.

But, to your question. If a Cat5 storm was coming Houston's way I would pack up my papers and pictuers and some clothes, drive down and pick up my Mom and go visit my sister in Austin. And I live at least 50 miles inland. If it was a smaller storm, ride it out as I have done before.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 04:43 PM   #12
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Thanks for all the tips on organizing the important things in our lives.

I will add to what was shared so far: Keep some cash in small bills available. I keep 300.00 in my safe just gor general purpose and have started recently increasing the number of small bills. A friend was in Santa Cruz, CA when the earthquake hit in 1999. He said without cash, you couldn't buy anything. No electricity meant no charging or ATM use. Keeping cash in his home was the main change he made after the earthquake.

I had to evacuate my home in 1987 with a new baby and a 15 month old. I grabbed baby clothes and diapers for an imediate need, forgetting all the other important items. We had almost no notice as 3 fires had merged and were headed up a canyon towards our home.

I need to get better prepared. Good reminder.

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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 04:47 PM   #13
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Forgive me if I am repeating myself, but I don't think it is in the national interest to permit re-building the big EZ. *My (DD) father worked for the Corp and predicted 30 years ago exactly what happened this week. *It cost's us too much to build and maintain the dikes. *Start filling in 'the hole' and give the next generation a chance to consider constructing on that site.

No business should consider placing a key facility on a flood plain. *I expressed my concern about a mfg facility to a former employer. *I shared with them my knowlege of the Corp dikes but they blew me off. * When it got flooded out my then former boss remarked that I was right, but it took that event to force the move.

With respect to our home emergency plan.. it is on my todo list. Earthquakes are probably my biggest risk, next would be wind in excess 100 mph.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 05:02 PM   #14
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
Forgive me if I am repeating myself, but I don't think it is in the national interest to permit re-building the big EZ.
NO is somewhat unique as a city, so why not rebuild it as a really unique city. Drain it long enough to redo the infrastructure, require all construction to be above the flood line, and let the water back in. Call it "Venice on the Mississippi".

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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 05:08 PM   #15
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

One of the lessons I learned after 9/11: I wonder how many of those who perished had never thought about where the emergency exits were, etc? How many sat around waiting for someone to instruct them to evacuate? How many actually got out of the WTC towers, but were standing just outside, watching?

IOW, get the f*** out, get away, save yourself. Plan ahead: how to get out of your home/your workplace/a hotel/an aircraft/a cruiseship, in case of emergency. Have a plan, and an alternate.

End of sermon... *:
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 05:12 PM   #16
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

How are they going to get the water out anyway. I thought the city was built to keep flooding from the Mississippi, isnt that going to KEEP the water in. I would assume that they are going to need some large piping and pumps and it will take months?
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 05:14 PM   #17
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

REWahoo, I couldn't agree more. *I asked my husband, an architect, what he thought. *He said that each and every building would require pilings 20 feet in the air. * Too expensive to provide the diversity that makes that city special. *
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 05:40 PM   #18
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

I guess a byproduct of saving to FIRE is that those who do could just drive away from a coming disaster and have the comfort of knowing they have the means to live somewhere else. Your plans to FIRE might be destroyed or postponed, but at least you save yourself from more severe suffering or death.

I would guess most of the people who stayed were either stupid stubborn and/or just too poor to leave. Even if I didn't have a vehicle, there were lots of cars and buses abandoned, so there's a situation where I would learn real fast to hotwire one and take my family to safety.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 07:55 PM   #19
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Quote:
Originally Posted by retire@40
I guess a byproduct of saving to FIRE is that those who do could just drive away from a coming disaster and have the comfort of knowing they have the means to live somewhere else.* Your plans to FIRE might be destroyed or postponed, but at least you save yourself from more severe suffering or death.

I would guess most of the people who stayed were either stupid stubborn and/or just too poor to leave.* Even if I didn't have a vehicle, there were lots of cars and buses abandoned, so there's a situation where I would learn real fast to hotwire one and take my family to safety.
I think most of those who stayed were just poor. Remember that NOLA consistently ranks as one of the poorest cities (fattest, too).

I said to DW today that if we had lived in NOLA, we would be driving to her family in Denver and spending a few weeks there considering where besides the gulf coast we would like to live. I bet NM would top the list. Since we live in NJ, it is academic.
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Old 08-31-2005, 08:01 PM   #20
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Re: struggling with lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
I think most of those who stayed were just poor. Remember that NOLA consistently ranks as one of the poorest cities (fattest, too).
#9 on the list.

http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/30/pf/c...ings/index.htm

Poorest American cities with a
population of 250,000 or greater
Rank City Median household income, 2004
1 Miami, FL $24,031
2 Newark, NJ $26,309
3 Cleveland, OH $27,871
4 Detroit, MI $27,871
5 Buffalo, NY $28,544
6 St. Louis, MO $30,389
7 Philadelphia, PA $30,631
8 Milwaukee, WI $31,231
9 New Orleans, LA $31,369
10 El Paso, TX $31,764
11 Tucson, AZ $31,901
12 Pittsburgh, PA $31,910
13 Cincinnati, OH $31,960
14 Memphis, TN $32,399
15 Baltimore, MD $34,055
16 Toledo, OH $35,239
17 Tulsa, OK $36,255
18 Oklahoma City, OK $36,347
19 San Antonio, TX $36,598
20 Stockton, CA $37,322
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