Friday, July 08, 2005

Proverb for a Storm

As readers of this blog know, Pensacola Beach is far from fully recovered after Hurricane Ivan (Sept. 2004). Many island structures are little more than piles of rubble scattered along the narrow streets. Others are still covered with plastic blue roofs whitening in the sun, with windows, doors, or even entire sides open to the elements. Indeed, a good many Pensacola Beach residents are still living in travel trailers perched on a sand foundation, as a photo taken today on Pensacola Beach shows.

This is not only a disreputable state of affairs -- it is highly dangerous. Dangerous to people, to property, and to the environment of the entire Pensacola Bay area. Just how dangerous is becoming evident as Hurricane Dennis races northward toward the Florida panhandle.

How could things be in such a sorry state nearly ten months after Hurricane Ivan? Hundreds of beach houses and business buildings haven't been repaired largely because of bad faith adjusting practices of the property insurance industry. Chief among the worst offenders is Citizens Property Insurance Co., the state-owned wind insurance company that supposedly insures most barrier island homes and businesses. Rather than pay what the law requires for homes so badly damaged they must be torn down, as two separate courts have ordered, Citizens still is fighting its customers with seemingly endless appeals to higher courts.

It's a toss-up which is the greater threat to public safety: Hurricane Dennis or Citizens Property Insurance. Both are stormin' dangers.

And then there is the danger of doing nothing. Florida Governor Jeb Bush couldn't do anything about Hurricane Dennis. But you'd think instead of vacationing in Maine or dispatching prosecutors on a wild goose chase into Terri Schaivo's past, he could have done something to reform Citizens and energize the rebuilding of Pensacola before another storm came along.

As Proverbs has it, "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."

No comments: