Once again tragedy has struck the USA, and the financial implications are being considered. These are early days yet as the full impact is still yet to be felt, but what is not new or unforeseen is the vulnerability of house owners and residents to water damage in flood prone areas. In the USA hurricane Katrina brutally exposed this situation in 2005 in Louisiana, and then hurricane Sandy did so again in New York in 2012. Now in 2017 we see a similar situation developing with hurricane Harvey in Texas, where CNN is reporting that the vast majority of homes are uninsured against flood. CNN are quoted as saying: "Figures from the National Flood Insurance Program show that only 15% of homes in Harris County, which includes Houston, have flood insurance, while only 20% of homes in Nueces County, where the coastal city of Corpus Christie is located, are covered."
As mentioned, this situation is not new and should serve as another reminder of the tragedy of these events which have always been a part of life in the tropics. In the USA, we see the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) struggling to cope with these disasters, even with the might of the USA behind it. We should therefore consider what fate will befall Barbados if faced with a similar event. One of the sad ironies of our human and political condition is that while we are compelled to help others in need, the small events that have punctuated Barbados over the last 50 years may have failed to serve adequate warning of what is to come. Time and again government agencies and benevolent organizations have come to the aid of persons in need, and this seems to have dulled the sense of personal responsibility in many cases to take care of oneself. We all love the stories of heroism that accompany life-saving acts by conscientious citizens, but the follow-up stories later on about lives ruined due to inability to replace their possessions somehow get lost on the cutting room floor. Hence, Barbados needs to watch these unfolding events closely, from beginning to end and learn from the experience of others. These events will continue to happen, and it's only a matter of time before Barbados will suffer a major strike.
Before that day comes people need to reflect soberly on what their plans are for recovery, and whether they plan to pin their hopes on providence, government assistance, external help, or a personal insurance policy. The unpleasant fact is that we all have choices, and while not being judgemental over the priority given by some to the latest fashion or electronic gadget, all of us need to understand that there are financial limits to the generosity of the state and NGO's, so be realistic in your assessment of what the future holds.
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