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    Posted September 9, 2012 by
    Braithwaite, Louisiana

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    Adding Insult to Assault: Hurricane Isaac


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     patticarol says many of the people she knows in Braithewaite, Louisiana, lost their entire livelihoods and are struggling to get by. 'I don’t know if they will be able to rebuild. I think there will be fear and concern that this will happen again ... so it really saddens me ... My biggest hope is that their spirit will be rejuvenated as well as all the other people down there. No matter where they go they will be able to get that spirit that they had back.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Hurricane Isaac rolled ashore on August 29, 2012 and destroyed all 18 miles of Braithwaite. Every home and business had massive, extensive flooding from a natural disaster for the first time in the history of Braithwaite. Many questions are being raised about why this happened. It is not as simple as a Category I Hurricane destroying a town below sea level. Many of these middle class, tax paying residents of this rural town did not flood for Katrina or other hurricanes and those that did certainly did not have the double digit flooding that occurred with Hurricane Isaac. These good people have essentially been assaulted by the deaf ears of the corps of engineers and other government officials that discarded their valid concerns that flooding would occur as a result of the funnel that would be created if Braithwaite was left without federal levee protection that was provided to the north and south of Braithwaite. The federal levees are substantially higher than those provided for the 18 mile stretch of Braithwaite.
    The added “insult”, that is now making a bad situation even worse is being created by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Qualified Independent Adjusters must:
    1. Have at least 4 consecutive years of full-time property loss adjusting experience.
    2. Be capable of preparing an accurate scope of damage and dollar estimate to $50,000 for manufactured (mobile) homes and to $500,000 for residential and commercial losses
    3. Have attended an NFIP workshop and be able to demonstrate knowledge of the SFIP and of NFIP adjustment criteria for all policy forms.
    4. Be familiar with manufactured (mobile) home and Increased Cost of Compliance adjusting techniques.


    Missing is #5: Ability to show compassion and sensitivity to those insured at a time when the insured is faced with the overwhelming feeling of loss and task of starting over.
    For the people of Braithwaite, starting over means for most moving. How can they risk this happening again without federal levee protection? This unknown significantly exacerbates the feeling of loss they are experiencing.
    Many (NFIP) adjusters are requiring homeowners to provide very detailed information about the contents in their home. Imagine having to provide a detailed inventory of everything in your home down to the electrical wall plates. Imagine having to provide an excel spreadsheet that lists out all of these items, the make/brand, age (when purchased), value when purchased, replacement value, receipts/warranties etc. Imagine having to provide these if you are 70 years old, just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary, have lived in your home for many, many years and have a lifetime of your items in your home. Many of these items have great emotional importance to you. Your wedding dress, your grandfather’s hunting knives, your prized coin collection, your sewing box, your children’s precious baby clothes, your wedding china…….NOW, imagine doing this after having 12 feet of muddy, marsh water in your home. That muddy, marsh water brought with it high grass, frogs, poisonous snakes like water moccasins, toads, fish…..many of these are still alive as well as the “critters” that are dead. Imagine the smell. Imagine the slimy, black, brown “muck” covering YOUR possessions that you must haul into your yard or driveway, take photos of, wipe off the item to look for model/serial numbers, write down the information being requested and then haul away all of your belongings on a bull dozer to dump on the levee for retrieval by the garbage collector. This is emotionally and physically taxing. That is only part of the work. You now need to enter the data into a spreadsheet and investigate the information being requested.


    Adding injury to assault by an insensitive, non-compassionate adjuster who has seen this too many times, who has likely never experienced this and expects the insured to comply with what is needed for him to complete the necessary documentation. What about the needs of the victims here? This is gut wrenchingly hard to endure day in and day out with an end that is not immediately in sight. That coupled with the uncertainty of the future is overwhelming.   I am can only imagine the pain that those experiencing this are feeling.

    The photos I am submitting were taken yesterday and today. You will see that the cataloging of items has begun. It was a “muck” filled day where much was accomplished and much is left to be accomplished. Thankfully Aloma and Kenneth Savastano (of whom I did an IReport on yesterday) did have some assistance by 5 wonderful gentlemen who did much of the heavy lifting and sifting thru the muddy mess. Their granddaughter, daughter, son inlaw and myself were also on hand to catalog, remove items, take photos, etc. Tomorrow they will continue this as there are several rooms left to clear out including pumping approximately a foot of water out of the living room.


    NFIP adjusters need to add “ease, sensitivity and compassion” to this assault. How can they not? These people have been thru enough and it’s the right thing to do.Isn't it time for all involved here to step up and do the right thing?


    Patti Jernigan Johnston

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