OK, time for a rant, or whine, or whatever you want to call it.
Now that hurricane season has officially started, I'm even more pissed off than I was last year.
Why, you ask? Well, because last year's damage isn't even fixed yet, and you can't even get anyone to come out and give estimates. Because our insurance rates have skyrocketed to quadruple what they were last year. Because our economy in Florida has taken a very serious hit ...and nobody even knows!!!
Why is it that Katrina and the people of New Orleans have received so much media coverage and help, but no-one outside the state of Florida even knows that Wilma was a very serious storm? Because we were not standing on our rooftops waiting to be rescued? We had no rooftops to stand on! Most of them blew off!
Look at an aerial picture of South Florida today. You will see many of the homes still with blue tarps on the roof from Wilma. And these homes are supposed to withstand another storm? There are still road signs missing or damaged, trailer parks that look like ghost towns, and piles of debris laying around. You can see remnants of Wilma everywhere. There are people to this day living in condemned homes, hoping they don't get caught, because they have noplace else to go.
Every insurance company has cancelled our policies and pulled out of the state, leaving the government to insure us, at whatever rate they want (and they want a lot!), because there is no competition.
We have had layoff after layoff, as our economy depends on tourism, and there was nothing here to attract tourists last season. And the people who live here don't have any money to keep the economy going. We've spent it all on shoddy repairs done by companies who came to Florida after Wilma, and then left when their repairs started falling apart.
Am I bitter when I hear stories about the people of New Orleans squandering their FEMA money on prostitutes and booze, while I remember standing in a FEMA line for hours, then being told there were no funds available? Not even a hot meal? You bet I am! I went home from the FEMA station to sit in a dark house with no electricity and with water rolling down the walls, while the people of New Orleans lived in hotel rooms and bought food (or whatever) with FEMA vouchers. And everyone I talk with here in Florida tells the same story.
I pray that we do not have another serious storm this year. We are not prepared for it, economically or physically. And not mentally, definitely not mentally.
But we do know one thing. If that storm does come, we will have to take care of ourselves. We learned that lesson very well last year.