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Robert Winner

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After Sandy: Rebuild or retreat?

Hurricane Sandy is expected to be the most expensive storms in history by media reports.

So here are some points to guide the debate:

1) Congress is set to debate a 60 billion dollar relief package.

2) The area being rebuilt is in a flood plain

3) The area has been rebuild many times

4) Where does insurance come into play VS federal intervention.

5) If you know your in a flood pain and still build .... who is responsible for the loss .... shoud you be eligable for federal relief funds.

We have seen relief and federal funds abused. As an example the former mayor of New Orleans Ray Negin was just indicted by a grand jury on correution charges. New Orleans 5th district is still boarded up and billions in all kind of aide are still unaccounted for.

So when do we the people say we do not want to keep throwning money at recurring problems.

This is not about being mean to people it is about building something that you know will be destroyed and then asking the government to refund you for your loss.

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  • Jan 24 2013: This is not really a new issue. We have been helping out flood victims with federal and state aid in many parts of the country for many years. It is foolish to keep doing it.

    As a national policy, I think we should help out with aid the first time, then allow the residents to get flood insurance (we have laws restricting the sale of flood insurance to flood plains), and then no more aid.

    Property titles should include whether a property has ever been flooded, and how often.

    If people want to buy cheap property in flood plains, they should be free to do it, as long as they are clearly making an informed decision. The only help they should expect from the government is an emergency boat to pick them up.
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    Jan 24 2013: RC, Your right. There are two distinct problems those who profit and those who need and ain't gettin nuttin. Army Corps of Engineers are expensive and their results have been called into question often. I published a conversation not long ago on the major Aide agencies, on how much of the money reaches the project site. The record for some of the biggest is awful ... but their CEOs are making a bundle in wages and perks.

    Puerto Rico is still basically at the same point ... New Orleans 5th district is still boarded up and a TV special showed one store had opened in the area. Five months after Sandy there are still areas of Manhattan that still have no power. I did see that a boardwalk and a entertainment pier were being restored. So the question remains where did all the money go.

    In our state we have a Dept of Emergency Services. Funds and resources are directed to them. They MUST document each expense by law and are audited. It appears that the means the Federal government uses is to throw money at all problems and make a visit for Photo Ops. In short it is politics and not humanity. They have plenty of money and are not required to stipulate its application or distribution. There are plenty of agencies that track pork that can validate this. Bet the penthouses of the rich political doners have power.

    Further if where you build is a documented flood plain and you sign a paper ackowledging this then your should not be eligable for federal assistance. Your protection is through insurance.

    At some point WE THE PEOPLE should be alarmed at federal intervention. People who continue to do the same things over and over and expect different results do not deserve our trust, our vote, or our assistance.

    Thanks for the reply. Bob
  • Jan 24 2013: I'm confused.
    It seems to me your real concern is with the billions you say are unaccounted for.
    They stole billions and want another 60 billion to play with and steal from.
    Isn't that the real concern here? It seems to me it is or should be.

    Isn't that what is going to happen with this new 60 billion?
    Isn't that what you are afraid of happening?

    The manipulation going on here is incredible.
    Not by you but by those who can and do manipulate in order to profit.
    The Big Dig (into the tax-payers pockets), paid off really well and is still paying off.
    The traffic sucks, the problems continue to pile up and the whole thing was a failure, really, but a real success to those who steal the money.

    After shoddy work you're worried about people wanting the government to help when all they did was say they were helping and they were: helping themselves to billions of "still unaccounted for funds."

    Why shouldn't they? They have the money, er, the billions.

    I suspect rebuilding is a good idea, but somewhere else, and I can't help but think money will be stolen in large amounts from that endeavor. That is what I see as the main issue. I can't live anywhere else other than where I live. That's because I am poor.
    Then relocate and rebuild but the money will be stolen nonetheless.
    I will remain poor no matter what I do and then blamed and condemned for it.

    In one sense I agree with you but personally know of too many projects performed by the famous Army Corp of Engineers that cost a lot of money and were complete failures, but not financially for those who ran the show. They didn't solve the problems they were paid to solve so in effect, all of the money was stolen.

    Rather than "something's got to give", "someone's got to give."
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      Jan 30 2013: RC, typed in the wrong block .... see above. Thanks. Bob.
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    Jan 24 2013: Back in the late 1800s, Charleston SC sufferred such a severe earthquate that it was entirely destroyed. (Actually, the first earthquake was so big (ringing church bells in Boston) that it set off another quate on a connecting fault line).

    At that time, the US government sent a total of 24 army tents. Nothing more. Not even troops.

    What did happen though was that the response from people like you and me was so great that after a while, the Mayor of Charleston asked people to stop donating because they had more than enough in donations. He thanked them for their bountiful help.

    Today, the opportunity to choose to help those in need has been largely stolen from you. The reward that you feel when you are able to participate in helping another has been stolen from you. You are told that you WILL help and WHO you will help and HOW you WILL help.

    Not only that, but when storms destroy a neighborhood in a flood zone, people rebuild, assuming that government will bail them out again.

    this is not univerally true. When I lived in Maine, we passed a law that said that if a beach house is destroyed by a storm, it cannot be rebuilt. This was back in the 80s in response to the then obvious threat of global warming.

    I do not believe in government assistance for disaster areas. I believe in empowering people. Our laws DISempower us.
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    Jan 24 2013: O.k. now I have something a bit worthy of contribution...this obssession of doing things that are irrational is observable in many areas of life...e.g. an elderly person will die shortly...it is inevitable...and yet in Canada we will spend millions in operations to save him...even for a couple of days...this list of self defeating behaviour may characterize stupidity or maybe human tenacity,opptimism? So if this problem is going to resolve...It may be Darwinian in nature...or Freudian ..Im a big fan of engineneering ...Did not Hong Kong...and Japan capture land that was unusable...or Dubais....Another example is in Spain where they decided to completely flood a plain permanently and build an Eco system organic fish farm...which cleaned up the enviornment...produced high quality non toxic fish and birds from as far as Africa came to feed of the excess....Or Is their a type of house,built like a sunken boat..that would be logical for these areas...If you were unable to move ..and this is where you lived..what would be you do...Darwin aside
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      Jan 24 2013: Okay. The game here is "If I were King" what would I do. Unlimited authority.

      1) Because these are all sea side areas with deep water ports ... bring in nuclear ships. They can supply desalinated water ... medical services .... feed the needy .... suppply power to onshore power networks. and the facilities and the manpower is already paid for by the people.

      2) Have in place a Emergency Services Dept in each state with a Command Post, Operations, and Fisical Management. All money and resources would be directed through this department documented and under constant audit. All outside agancies would also report to this Dept ... Fed ... red cross ... etc ... this would spread resources to their best effect to the most needed under one manager.

      3) Involve state milita for protection of citizens and property ... to assist in relocating .... to assist in rebuilding ... again a resource already budgeted for.

      4) As King I would publish a Best Practice Manual that showed what went wrong in other disasters and what went right and why. We have regional problems. What happens in Kansas is probally not the concerns facing NYC , New Orleans, Miami, etc .... Plan accordingly.

      5) Laws against profiteering under these situations would be agressively enforced and the punishment hard to discourage the looting and thieft that is bound to occur. It would keep the honest man honest and punish the guilty.

      6) By having everything funneled under one program it would also (hopefully) take the politics out of the mix and put the humanity back in. The Dept would have a media release section and all official reports would come from them. The media has proven they can be both friend and foe ... but their objective is to sell papers .... that should always be in our minds when reading a story.

      Any way there are some thoughts off the top of my head.

      Thanks for the reply. I wish you well. Bob.
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        Jan 24 2013: ok good ideas...i vote for you...now i guess wait for the critiques...of which i am currently not one
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    Jan 24 2013: Bob...My comment was on behalf of trying to decipher the other mans comments...I was thinking...is this man offended? so in thinking so ..I attempted to consider what he was trying to say...nothing else stood out...so I chanced the comment about the natives ...personally i am very tolerant...I am so intent on learning...I rarely react to any comments ......I tend to be a defender of others...hence my inquiry...I did give leeway to the possibility you had GOOD REASON....and you must admitt socially we have our groups we dont pick on...so I was driving the discussion back to ground...which is the topic...ground...flooding...bad luck...and awareness this occurs in a cycle...sorry i dont have anything brilliant to say...your comments are actually how I became aware of the dilemma...Ive read your comments before...which I felt were contributing...Plus...Im experienced in native culture...and am always going to suggest fun at their expense is uncool...however if you want to make fun of your own team...which here within clearly deserves it...let the flood gates be swamped in levity
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    Jan 24 2013: Retreat or not but without any funding, Darwin's law applies
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    Jan 23 2013: Robert,I will guess..(sorry) that the individual who is requesting a change in debate technique is requesting sarcasm and irony,and wits(halfs included) not be part of what is meant to be a serious discussion...WE have no facts at the moment as to numbers of houses,amount spent,last flood occurrence...ideas for flood proof homes for those determined..instead we made remarks about land deals with a group...we now see as somehow at an advantage...which in my experience of native culture..is not a group of swaggering millionaires,ready to do business mergers..maybe you have real reasons for what you say..but floods are serious,so is home loss...If we were discussing the holocaust ....jokes about Jews would not follow....why this indulgence on this topic...but seriously...ideas about figuring out what to do about a flood plain is not time to criticise natives...or is it...how is it connected...I am patient and willing to believe anything reasonable
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      Jan 24 2013: What you saw as off topic and insulting .. I viewed as a clever response to the question of Rebuild or Retreat. Edward selected retreat and gave a explaination.

      As I appreciated his humorous and direct answer .. I see that you did not. No offense was intended.

      Your comment referencing what to do about flood plains is what this is about. So the question remains do we continue to rebuild and expect different results as Feyisayo stated below. Is this really a issue of insurance, state government, or the responsibility of the US government?

      Long after New Orleans, Puerto Rico, and even now in New York there are areas that have not been addressed and monies that cannot be accounted for. The former mayor of New Orleans has been indicted and many agencies are under Congressional investigation. A news report today 1-23-2013 stated that many areas of Manhatten have not had electricity restored. I understand the need for emergency services, however, should those be the responsibility of the state.

      There are many questions .. and obviously many ways to address this. It does need to be addressed.

      Each person confronts situations differently. We all have coping mechanisms ... crying ... cussing and raising a fist to the heavens .. and yes even humor.

      I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jan 23 2013: In 1626 Peter Minuit bought Manhattan island from the local Indians for a load of cloth, beads, hatchets, and other odds and ends then worth 60 Dutch guilders. I've always though those Indians made a deal that wasn't as dumb as it looked. I think they knew, probably from experience, that the land was prone to flooding in really big (every 386 years or so) storms. I say retreat and sue the Indians for willful misrepresentation.
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      Jan 23 2013: Today the guilder is at 1.65400 per US dollar. For $99.24 we can return the area back to the natives. But lets think about this.

      1) They took the 60 Guilders for land that they really did not own, just resided on. Took their mobile society to another location which they did seasonally anyway. (a win)

      2) They unfortunaley were pushed further inland by the expanding of settlements.

      3) After fighting they were given areas that would remain theirs forever ... no more intrusion.

      4) They are protected by the BIA with a budget of 2.5 billion with includes:
      a. land, mineral, and water rights.
      b. Hospitals, colleges, trade schools.
      c. substitdies for everything ... farming, livestock, small business, etc ...
      d. the right to keep all profits and to be reinbursed for failures
      e. The right to override states laws on gamboling and keep the profits.
      f. And all the time the states are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the infrastructures ... as they are labeled state and federal highways.

      All wins on their part.

      We need to stop trading and bartering with these people .... we are losing bad.
  • Jan 23 2013: CAN I HAVE SOMETHING FROM THIS/ THESE DEBATES.., PLS..? MY NAME IS SHERWIN PAUL ESTACIO DIMABUYU OF THE PHILS..!
  • Jan 22 2013: It is not wise to build on flood plains; I'm not very excited about someone who does the same thing again and again and expects a different result; but at the same time there may be some wisdom about this that is exclusive to the government and stakeholders.
    Help should be given to those who have land and infastructure in these areas; relocation to somewhere less dangerous is a better way of using government resources.