Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   pimping for the insurance industry
Monday, October 16 2006
Gretchen and I live on the top of a steep grade, roughly 430 vertical feet above Esopus Creek and 600 feet above sea level. At the bottom of a canyon 200 feet to the northeast runs a smallish stream called "Englishman's Creek" and it's maybe 100 vertical feet below. There is a gentle rise in the terrain to the northwest of our house, but all of the water that lands on it ends up in a ditch along the edge of Dug Hill Road or is caught by a system of drainage ditches I've installed (so it won't freeze as it crosses the driveway). The worst flooding our house has ever experienced was from water running off its enormous roof. So you can imagine my reaction when I got the following letter in the mail today from FEMA:

Dear Karl A Mueller,1

The best locks, the strongest doors and sophisticated burglar alarms won't protect your home from invading floodwaters. As much as you try to make your home safe and secure, it isn't when it comes to America's #1 natural disaster.

When the foul smelling water gets inside, it gets into everything you own. It ruins your floors and carpets. Most of your walls will nedd to be replaced. Furniture, clothing and anything else the flood touches will have to be thrown out.

After the water recedes, it's just as bad as the flood itself. Left behind is a stinking mess of muddy and sometimes contaminated slime.2

Even a small flood of only a few inches can cost thousands of dollars in cleanup, replacement and repair costs. And who will pay for the damage? You will.

Your homeowners insurance won't protect you.

Homeowners insurance policies cover many things —fire, other natural disasters, theft, —but not flooding.

Without flood insurance, your home is unprotected.

Don't count on disaster assistance.

The President must first declare a disaster before assistance is made available. The stark reality is not all floods are declared disasters.3

If disaster assistance is available at all, it's usually in the form of a loan you'll have to pay back ... with interest. It will likely take you years to pay off the loan.

Think you're safe from flooding?
You're not.

Floods happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone.4 Don't tell yourself a flood won't happen to you. It can and does.

Nearby new construction can dramatically change water runoff patterns turning dry neighborhoods into potential flood areas. Sudden severe weather can cause unexpected flooding even in the flood areas.

The risk is real. Up to 25% of all flood claims come from people living in low to moderate flood-risk areas. If you live in a high-risk area, there's a 1 in 4 chance that you'll experience a flood over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

Without flood insurance, how will you manage?

There's no easy way. If you don't have flood insurance, the financial burden of a flood will rest squarely on your shoulders.

Maybe you'll only have to use all your savings to pay for the thousands of dollars in flood damage. But more than likely, you'll also have to take out a loan or a second mortgage while still paying off your original mortgage.

It could take years before you've finally paid for all the damage. What plans will you have to put on hold or give up?

With flood insurance,
your home and your future are protected.

On average, flood insurance costs around $500 a year. That's not much to pay to know that your hopes and dreams won't be washed away.

Maybe floodwaters will never invade your home, but with flood insurance —if the worst happens... you'll know your're protected.

Call your insurance agent today and ask about flood insurance.

Sincerely, David Maurstad
Director, FEMA Mitigation Division and Federal Insurance Administrator

P.S. Flood insurance comes with a 30-day waiting period. Don't wait for a flood to threaten your home and contents —by then it will be too late.

First of all, how did FEMA get into the business of pimping flood insurance? With this particular incarnation of FEMA, I'm suspicious that this taxpayer-subsidized marketing effort is payback to an insurance industry that is a known fan and supporter of the Republican style of misgovernance. A government that wasn't a corporate-controlled kleptocracy would have more shame than to send such a hard sell to people who are clearly not in need of flood insurance. If I was living in the same house as I am now but I was one of those morons who routinely buys the Best Buy extended warranties, perhaps this mailing could scare me into buying flood insurance. If'd learned so little science in school that I didn't know that once water reaches low elevation it stays there, and if I'd never really taken a gander at the landscape, maybe I'd be willing to cough up $500 per year just for the peace of mind that, in its ignorance, it might otherwise lack.

1Note that this was addressed to me, though my wife and I are co-equal owners of the house. Good job, bible college graduate who drafted this pitch! Maybe my pregnant barefoot wife can fetch me cookies while I read it.

2The way they lay out graphically what a flood actually is reminds me of the hard-sell by credit card companies trying to get you to use their high-interest "convenience checks." In those pitches, credit card companies routinely remind you what one can do with money.

3Note the use of the phrase "not all." Personally, I've never heard of a flood that cost anyone any money that wasn't part of what was to be declared a national or state disaster.

4I suppose. But in some of those place you're more likely to be hit by a meteorite.

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