Posts Tagged FEMA
This blog began by text on the front porch of an historic home on the East End of Galveston a few nights after Hurricane Ike devastated the island on September 13, 2008, and a few minutes after I was confronted by a baby-faced National Guardsman with a submachine gun pointed between my eyes. My essays were picked up by the NBC Houston affiliate KPRC-TV, who published them as the Galveston After Ike blog until 2012. If you’re here to learn what it’s like to go through a storm, please read from the bottom up.
I received the note below nearly four years after the storm. It is why I wrote about it. But I’ve moved away now, and am no longer the best spokesperson for that place with more hues than the sea. These essays may serve as an archive of remembrances of a brief time we shared, what we loved, lost, and yes, what we wore.
I just stumbled across your post Ike essays, and I just have to say “thank you,” because for the first time, I feel like someone really understood me, and understood what I went through. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am very sorry for all of your losses, but I had a very similar story, and it just felt really nice to read your misfortune, and understand that finally, someone else understood.
I, also, didn’t get a dollar from my insurance, nor did I get a dollar from FEMA. I used my savings to fix my house, and then got all of my credit cut because I, too, was self employed in a disaster area. I could go on and on, but suffice to say, our stories matched on so many different levels.
The thing I hated the most was when my friends from out of state or out of area, would “comfort” me by saying “I know exactly how you feel, our car broke down yesterday, and it is a big bummer.” If I had a dollar for everyone that told me that “God had a plan for me,” or “that which does not kill you makes you stronger,” I would be a millionaire.
I still have not dug myself out of my financial black hole, but I do have faith and hope that it will happen one day soon. Thank you for your beautiful essays, and thank you for finally making me feel understood.”
— Andrea T.
I think I speak for all of Galveston when I say that we’ve had flashbacks this week… flashbacks to September 13, 2008 and the vast media coverage that brought worldwide attention to us as Ike hit and just as quickly moved away, taking the media with it to cover the sudden and apparently unexpected financial crisis that, frankly, escaped our attention entirely.
Because when you’re in crisis, other people’s crises don’t matter all that much, especially when they’re about something as imaginary as Wall Street money.
About six months ago, I posted the story of my friend, Alex, who was in danger of losing his home and car back to the bank because, as a self-employed small business owner in a slow-to-recover-from-Ike industry, he had been turned down for loan modification by both lenders.
Alex asked me to update you on his story, and says this is his last word on the subject.
Alex’s car was repossessed shortly after this story originally ran, and the mortgage company foreclosed in June. The car company sold the car at auction for $20,000 less than Alex owed on it, and the mortgage company is now marketing his former home at $100,000 less than Alex paid for it. Alex wants everyone to see how illogical the system is — when people struck by natural disaster who WANT to do the right thing and fulfill their financial obligations are met with immutable bureaucracies that refuse compromise only to make a significantly better deal, and take a bath, with the next guy. Alex would have been happy to work with both lenders at FULL VALUE if only they had agreed to restructure the debts.
Finally, Alex says he has moved on. It has been almost a year and he feels like he’s finally getting his daily life back under control — even if it is in a borrowed house and borrowed car. He’s grateful for everything he’s learned and can see the light ahead.
In March, he fell in love. That was the best gift of all.
Copyright © 2009 Alice Melott
Essays by this author can also be read by joining http://www.facebook.com/alicethewriter.
It’s taken me a while to figure out how to talk about this. I didn’t want to distract from the impact of the actual event…but now that the storm is pretty much behind us, we all need to face a really big problem that it uncovered. There are as many stories as there are people on the island, but I’ve picked one to serve as metaphor for all of us. Once you hear it, I trust you’ll share your own here. If we put in a little effort, maybe we can make some changes for the next victims.