MONTECITO, Calif. — Rescue teams battled through rain-sodden muck and debris Wednesday seeking to reach more areas ravaged by landslides that sent deadly torrents of mud and water over homes in Southern California. The death toll rose to at least 15, but the search was expanding and the figure could grow. Crews from the Coast Guard and the National Guard joined the hunt along coastal hills previously devastated by wildfires — which left the slopes barren and unable to hold onto tons of soil and rocks dislodged by downpours. About 25 people were injured, with many more in danger across the region as hills left barren after weeks of fires were transformed by rainstorms early Tuesday morning into fast-moving sheets of mud and debris. “The only words I can really think of to describe what it looked like was it looked like a World War I battlefield,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “It was … [Read more...] about ‘Like a WWI battlefield’: 15 dead as mudslides wipe away homes in fire-ravaged Southern California
What flood zone is my home in
RICHMOND, Texas — Standing in his stripped down kitchen on the outskirts of Houston, Golam Rasul still can't believe that the home he saved up for 15 years to buy is gutted."Everything is gone," he said, walking through the mostly-empty house, surveying the walls that have been stripped back and the few salvaged items piled onto a bed.Rasul moved to Houston from Bangladesh 20 years ago, ready to build a life in the US for himself and his family. Three years ago, he had finally scraped together enough to make a down payment on this house. "This was my some kind of dream, you know. I brought my family here," he said. On one wall that didn't have to be stripped down, he has saved and pinned up school reports from his 6-year-old son."I try to keep something, he is a very good student all his teachers say," Rasul explained.His mortgage payments add up to $1,040 per month, he said, around half of his monthly salary which he earns working 12-to 14-hour days at a convenience store on … [Read more...] about This Immigrant Community Is Returning Home To Deal With The Damage That Harvey Wrought
“March… Someone has walked across the snow,Someone looking for he knows not what.” “Singeth spells.” The poetry of Wallace Stevens makes me happy. This is the simple truth. Pleasure springs from the sense of fluid sound patterns phonetic utterance excites in us. Beauty, harmony, and order are represented by the arrangement, and repetition, of particular words on paper. No matter how many theoretical and critical interpretations there are, in the end each new clarity of discipline and delight contains inexplicable intricacies of form and measure. The last poems Wallace Stevens gathered together under the general title The Rock are moving, lyric meditations on the civil and particular. As if from some unfathomable source, knowledge derived from sense perception fails, and the unreality of what seems most real floods over us. As a North American poet writing in the early twenty-first century, I owe him an incalculable debt, for ways in which, through word … [Read more...] about Vagrancy in the Park
By Emily Flitter HOUSTON (Reuters) - Phil Drager commanded a fleet of rescue boats, closed a highway, and flagged down a helicopter when he led efforts to rescue flood victims in Texas as waters rose after Hurricane Harvey, citing as his credentials a record in U.S. military special operations. His actions as a volunteer were real, but some of what he told victims, volunteers and officials about himself - including his name and the details of his military background - was not. Drager was born Phil Jason Haberman but said he uses an assumed name for personal reasons. He served in the Marines from 1990 to 1991, according to military records. He also served for a year and a half in the Army National Guard where he was discharged in 2006 under "other than honorable conditions," a National Guard spokesman said. Drager told Reuters the records were "not accurate." He later said additional paperwork filed in Florida showed his National Guard discharge was overturned to become … [Read more...] about Taking charge in U.S. flood zone, a rescuer inflates his record
Get ready for Hurricane Sandy, Part 2: Mold. Three weeks after the superstorm struck, signs of her menacing legacy can already be seen in thousands of homes across the flood zone. You’ll see it in the form of dime-sized, fuzzy, green spores clinging to chairs, black streaks of toxic mold lining the corners of dressers and two-inch-thick blankets of fungi covering garbage dumped along the road. Any way you slice it, it’s all mold — and it can kill you. “We’re going to have mold competing against each other,” said Dr. Ginger Chew from the Centers for Disease Control, who specializes in the health risks of mold inhalation. “Mold can grow overnight.” And it won’t stop unless you make it stop. Michael Scotto’s 78-year-old mother’s home on West End Ave. in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, was filled to the ceiling with seawater and sewage after Hurricane Sandy smacked the waterfront neighborhood. Craig … [Read more...] about Mold invades thousands of homes across flood zone in wake of Hurricane Sandy
Theresa Samuelson, 76, sat on a plastic chair in the Cort Club in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, and gazed into that desperate hole in middle space where your life disappears in a single, savage night. “I lived at 117 Gain Court in Gerritsen Beach since I’m 6 years old,” she says, her voice a frail whisper. “My mother, who emigrated from Derry, Northern Ireland, originally bought the house 70 years ago. I inherited it. I lived there with my husband, who has dementia now. He took a fall. He’s in a nursing home recovering. I do the bills. For years, I sent in my combined Geico insurance for my house and car. At least I thought the house was included in the monthly payment.” It wasn’t. Because Samuelson has owned the house outright for decades, there was no mortgage holder to tell her that her insurance premiums no longer covered her home. “I never put in a house claim before and didn’t find out till the hurricane hit that I … [Read more...] about Brooklyn neighbors lend a helping hand in rough post-Hurricane Sandy times
WASHINGTON - Craig Fugate, the easygoing Floridian who won broad praise for leading the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Barack Obama, has some sharp opinions on what to do in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.Chief among them: Don’t keep pouring federal tax dollars into rebuilding flood-prone areas without requiring tougher standards to reduce rebuilding costs.Fugate, 58, who began his career as a paramedic in Alachua County and later ran the Florida Department of Emergency Management under GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, has settled back in Gainesville with his wife, Sheree, although he still travels to Washington from time to time. He’s also working as an emergency preparedness consultant for several organizations, including 1Concern, a California firm that maps and models potential disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and wildfires.Fugate talked to USA TODAY about his return to private life, how his phone won’t stop ringing due to Harvey, … [Read more...] about Former FEMA chief Craig Fugate argues against rebuilding in flood zones without changes
Back after a long hiatus, although the travails of Sandy victims have certainly not ended.We wrote in Sunday's paper about complaints over the RREM program and one man's take on his dealings with SHRAP.While we included the state's defense of its RREM program from several months ago we did not reach out to the state on a Saturday afternoon in this overnight story to hear them out on SHRAP.We included the state's position when we updated our online story Monday.The story focused on Cliff Harper, a man who is living on a sailboat in a Normandy Beach marina. He said SHRAP rejected his application because he couldn't produce the lease for the home he rented that was destroyed in the storm. The lease, according to Harper, disappeared with it.Nicole Brossoie, a spokesperson for the state Department of Human Services, which administers the program, had this to say: "Several documents are requested and the SHRAP counselors go out of their way to assist residents in qualifying. Because of … [Read more...] about The Flood Zone: More on SHRAP
Q. Is it necessary in New York to have a bathtub in a house in order to sell it? A. I take baths every morning and night and couldn't imagine living in a house without one. And I'd like to bet that nine out of 10 people like a good dunk as well. Bathtubs make every house more salable simply because people expect to see them. And if you check your local building code, you'll probably find that your town code requires them. Q. I purchased a co-op six years ago. In that time, I've had several floods, a near-fire, mice infestation and now asbestos. I've thought about suing the building, but I'm reluctant because I'm a shareholder. In reference to the asbestos, am I responsible for the cost of the abatement? A. Listen here, Chicken Little. Don't make enemies of anybody until you get your facts straight and hire a good attorney. You still live in the building, and it's better to have your attorney play the bad guy. When I asked New York … [Read more...] about To sell a house is bathtub a must?
Though Brooklyn grabbed headlines when it was slammed by a rare tornado this month, Queens suffered far more damage in the freak Aug. 8 storm, an official report on the storm shows. In a letter sent last week to President Bush requesting federal disaster aid, Gov. Spitzer estimated that 1,359 homes in Queens suffered damage in the storm, compared with 189 in Brooklyn and 21 on Staten Island. "When we saw the damage in Queens, we were shocked," said Barbara Lynch, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which tallied the damage. "The damage in Brooklyn was contained. This was much more widespread," added Lynch, whose agency counted at least 460 Queens homes with major damage. The torrential rains that slammed the city early that morning - crippling the subways - overwhelmed sewers in large swaths of Queens and sent rivers of water spilling into homes. The rains even caused toxic sewage to spew from toilets and showers in Woodside, Forest Hills and other areas. … [Read more...] about Storm-damaged Queens asks, what about us?