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You Know You're From New Orleans When...

Chris Rose from the Times Pic is trying to steal my "You know your life is surreal when..." schtick. (Which I've renamed "You Know You're From New Orleans When...")

Here's one for you: Some friends of mine were clearing out their belongings from their home in the Fontainebleau area and were going through the muddle of despair that attends the realization that you were insured out the wazoo for a hurricane but all you got was flood damage and now you're going to get a check for $250,000 to rebuild your $500,000 house. [flood insurance caps out at $250,000 ed]

As they pondered this dismal circumstance in the street, their roof collapsed. Just like that. It must have suffered some sort of structural or rain-related stress from the storm and now, two weeks later, it manifested itself in total collapse.

Now I ask you: What would you do if you watched your home crumble to pieces before your eyes?

What they did was, realizing their home now qualified for a homeowner's claim, they jumped up and down and high-fived each other and yelled: "The roof collapsed! The roof collapsed!"

Our home is destroyed. Oh, happy day. I submit there's something not right there.

Life down here is only a little on the surreal side.

Comments (10)

Getting $250K to rebuild a ... (Below threshold)

Getting $250K to rebuild a $500K house may not be a bad deal.

The price of a house depends on location and market as well as the house itself. But the cost of rebuilding depends upon material and labor costs. So rebuilding may cost much less than the price of the finished house. That's why builders develop housing tracts.

And you end up with a house you want - choose your floor plan, colors, and amenities.

In this case it apparently doesn't matter after the roof failure.

K, that might be true, but ... (Below threshold)

K, that might be true, but getting $500K to rebuild a $500K house is even better.

Just try to avoid 100-year ... (Below threshold)

Just try to avoid 100-year floodplains, earthquake zones (there are plenty along the Mississippi), tsunami basins, active volcanoes, toxic waste contamination, high crime areas, places with bad schools, serious air pollution, brush or forest fire zones and areas down wind of major metropolitan areas.

Or buy a boat and live on it.

No different in getting $45... (Below threshold)

No different in getting $4500 worht of damage to a $5000 and wishing the insurance company would just total the damn thing...

Paul, my mother got strande... (Below threshold)

Paul, my mother got stranded during the hurricane at my sister's house near Florida Avenue, two blocks from the Forty Arpent Canal, in Meraux. When the eyewall went over the area, the storm surge following the eye gushed over the levee so quickly that the house literally filled up with water into the attic, in five minutes. My mother spent the second half of the storm stuck on the rooftop, with an injured arm.

The "mixed blessing" of my mother having witnessed the flooding came about when my sister began filing a morass of claims with FEMA, State Farm, flood insurance, etc. Since my mother witnessed wind/storm damage that occurred prior to the flood, items were claimable on the homeowners policy that would not have been covered by the flooding (thanks to the flooding alone, the house was a total loss).

I can appreciate how those guys felt when the roof caved in. After so much devastation, when you've been left with nothing (same went for my mother, my little brother, and my best friend & his family), you don't care how it happened, but you do care that some kind of insurance covers it.

If I were that family, I'd have been singing in the street when the roof collapsed, and I wouldn't have given two sh*ts what anyone else thought...lol :)

Er...a $500,000 house at $1... (Below threshold)

Er...a $500,000 house at $150 p/s/f (all the money in LA, I presume) is 3,333 s/f. Must have a big closet full of Armanis.

I'm confused, Paul. Did th... (Below threshold)

I'm confused, Paul. Did they own the house outright? As in, whatever they invested cleared the title (no remaining mortgage) and the house appreciated from their purchasing investment to the $500,000.00 worth-now-destroyed?

As in, perhaps the $250,000.00 is still equal to or even more than what they had invested.

IF they still OWE more than the second half (another $250,000.00 -- as in, the $500,000. minus the $250,000 they received, leaving a "worth" not reimbursed of $250,000) in an outstanding mortgage on the now-destroyed house, then they're screwed.

But, perhaps it's not so bad, in that they bought the house at under $250,000, have paid most of their mortgage, and the ("imagined") additional $250,000 in unreimbursed worth is simply appreciatiion, they're still out in front.

Somehow the idea of $250,000. in cash in the bank and a big country of safer places to purchase and live would be appealing to me. I'd make sure I took care of whatever liabilities existed on that first house before buying another one, though. But I'd buy somewhere else.

Most catastrophic insurance coverage only tolerates ONE complete house replacement in the life of the policy, or at least, twenty years or something. Need to think ahead as to what it'll be like in N.O. when the next flood happens, is my point...probably will be within another ten, fifteen years.

Oh, right, homeowner's clai... (Below threshold)

Oh, right, homeowner's claim...means they're ahead of whatever the math could be at this stage.


I was there for a couple we... (Below threshold)

I was there for a couple weeks (check the blog link), and the radio stations there were talking about the same thing. People were calling in with stories of how the insurance companies screwed them (or, conversely, how they were able to get their claim covered). The one thing that I can say with certainty is that everything is surreal down there.

Chris Rose always has the b... (Below threshold)

Chris Rose always has the best columns! I re-subsribed to the paper to support his employment. Whenever I read the heartless, smug comments about Katrina's destruction I have to remind myself that these people don't have a clue about New Orleans. It is a complex, multilayered culture that is unique and can't be reformed out of thin air anywhere else. It is part of the soul of people that grew up there. New Orleaneans are doing their best to rebuilt their city. The destruction is so great that it hardly makes a dent, but they keep working away. I went into the city myself last week to help in the clean up of City Park. 400 volunteers showed up. It was wonderful! In one week a big difference had been made in one small part of the city. The city will probably be 1/3rd the size of its former self. Scarred, more cynical of insurance companies and the federal government (You couldn't get more cynical of local or state government. LOL!) but it WILL go on!






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