"Storm Aftermath"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018

As we view news outlets and major storms strike, we see homes washed away or being crushed by trees, and vehicles being carried off in flood waters. No matter what type of storm — hurricane, tornado, flood or four nor’easters — we gasp in disbelief as we view the disasters. Many of us hear first-hand versions describing unbelievable losses.

Accounts of storms will be broadcast for a few days, but newscasters soon report on other news, as if all is well. As I see it, although news coverage moved to the next big event, problems resulting from the storms continue, and they should be reported on.

After storms, personal property is vulnerable, strewn around the stricken area. Some items are very valuable, others are of value only to their owners. Neighbors step in to help, gathering property they know belongs to friends. Some people think it’s alright to just help themselves. After all, it’s just stuff lying around, so why not claim it?

Few people who witnessed the horrific damage caused by major storms have any awareness of events taking place six months later. In most cases, after exhausting labor and clean up, those who suffered losses are still recovering. They are still trying to replace property lost or destroyed.

I was one who had first-hand experience. Some of my neighbors and good friends lost cars and had homes eaten away by salt water and mold after a storm hit the Florida Keys. They were left with nothing but the ground they stood on. They had to have their homes they had lived in for years and years, crushed and hauled away. The property had to be re-filled and prepared to support a new dwelling. Just getting it ready produced a cost running into thousands of dollars before any improvements could take place. Once the lot was done, utilities needed repairs to support any new buildings, even trailers.

Some structures, such as mine, and some of my friends and neighbors, were declared sound enough to re-build. The time and expense however will equal or exceed the cost of replacement. When homes such as mine were originally purchased or built new, owners never anticipated having to invest a greater sum many years later to re-build them. I’m sure everyone involved in efforts to restore their homes in a community work together, they sure have in mine. We share tools and equipment, pass on items we have too much of, or just shout encouragement to all those still laboring. I’ve gotten a lot of that!

Many victims of disasters involved in restoration efforts are retired folks or elderly, and they fall prey to predators who take advantage of them. Some of these people live on limited budgets, with minimum incomes. Their immediate needs are often directed at medical necessities such as medications necessary to maintain their health. It is hard to believe that unscrupulous, greedy opportunists take advantage of those who have so little and are in such precarious situations.

Fortunately, our government that many of us complain about steps in to assist thousands of people in need after major disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been criticized in the past (Katrina comes to mind). I have witnessed repeated evidence that they have been very helpful to those affected in my area who are recovering from Hurricane Irma.

There is a plus to the aftermath of all the disaster accounts. The local economy in the areas hard hit get a real boost. Legitimate contractors and suppliers reap great rewards, some probably enough to retire on. Check the stock tickers for Home Depot and Lowes after a disaster is declared, you will probably see an upward trend.

Sadly, to add extreme insult to injury, and increase anxiety to all those affected by last year’s major hurricanes, forecasters are already telling us to anticipate several, severe storms during the 2018 hurricane season. Although it does not begin until June 1, announcements began in early April. It seems to me the weather folks could have delayed their broadcast. There is no doubt everyone is hard at work preparing for the next storm season. As they do so, their pain has been re-kindled as they worry about facing a repeat of what they are still enduring.

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