Thursday, December 23, 2004

NPR's Hurricane Series

Reporter Ari Shapiro of National Public Radio is in Florida, working on what NPR says will be a "series on [the] long term effects" of the four hurricanes that struck Florida.

The series is airing on Morning Edition, the early morning weekday news program, although not every day. In the Pensacola area, you can catch it on WUWF-FM (88.1) from 4 am to 8 am CST or on WHIL-FM (91.3) in Mobile from 5 to 7 am. With a computer sound card, it's also possible to hear an archived version on the NPR web site at any time.

Thursday, Shapiro filed his first dispatch from high above the shores of Lake Okeechobee in a "rickety 6-seat airplane" proceeding east to "near Ft. Pierce" on the Atlantic coast.

It wasn't much more than an introduction for the national audience to the concept of "bright blue squares on nearly every other building" and "temporary homes" stretching "nearly a thousand miles" across Florida. One FEMA manager told Shapiro that FEMA itself installed 135,000 blue roofs and "gave away another half million smaller tarps that people put onto their own homes."

He also said FEMA right now is seeing "a second wave of people [that] has only recently started to ask for housing." They come from those who are discovering emerging mold problems, "people [who] have been waiting a long time for insurance settlements," recalcitrant landlords who won't make repairs, and the trickle of evacuees returning home for the first time.

FEMA, we also learn, "in communities all over the state" is looking for sites to build "long term" mobile home parks that will be able to withstand hurricane force winds up to 140 mph.

"This is all part of a strategy," Shapiro reports, "for preparing for what could be a series of intense hurricane seasons."

NPR doesn't say when the next segment will be broadcast, although one supposes it will probably be within the next few days.

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