Friday, August 10, 2007

Miles to go before I sleep

August is a busy month. I've calculated that historically about 1/12 of all the significant events in human history occurred during the month of August.

The first atom bomb was dropped in August. The King of Rock'n'Roll passed away. Hurricane Katrina.

Some good things happened, too. My Darling Wife and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this month.

And I've signed up to make a presentation at the Rising Tide 2 Conference on the 25th of this month. The title of my talk will be "In Levees We Trust." I picked that title because I thought it was a little more catchy than, "I don't know who is crazier: my neighbors who are happily going about fixing up their slab-on-grade houses that are for the most part below the 100-year flood elevation in a city that does not yet have even the marginal 100-year level of protection and likely won't for several more years to come, or, Congress and the President who seem all too eager and happy to send gazillions of dollars overseas to a war-torn country that will likely tear itself apart in civil war whether we remain there or not while dragging their feet on the appropriation of money to programs that would really benefit Americans, such as health care and infrastructure and flood protection."

Ultimately, August has been and will continue to be a busy month for me and that’s partly why I have not been so faithfully posting here. Work, family and other needs and obligations conspire to keep me from writing.

Not that there’s anything good to write about.

My Darling Wife and I have been slowly (very slowly) moving forward with our plan to build a new elevated house on our property in a severely flooded area of the city. I don’t think that is going to happen now. The cost of constructing a new house at a reasonably safe elevation is prohibitive. I have been searching for the poetic, deeply meaningful way to express the disappointment that does not give in to despair. I have been thinking of ways to frame the shock, the letdown, the contempt, and I don’t know—a hundred other emotions that come with the reality that has landed on us now. But it does not exist.

The simple fact is that building a new house in New Orleans today is very expensive. Elevated? That costs even more. I’ve talked to builders and we even got quotes from modular home builders that left us short of breath.

So now we’re looking to purchase an existing house. Of course it would need to be in the unflooded parts of city. Of course it will be expensive. But it will be less expensive than building new.

And it puts a curve ball on The Road Home and SBA. We have asked Road Home to change our grant from Option 1 to Option 2. We asked SBA to change our loan application from a Rebuild to a Relocation. As simple as it is to say that, it means a complete change in paperwork, as bureaucratically different as if we were going from roller skates to a nuclear submarine. I fully expect that, in the Rube Goldberg methodology of those two agencies alone, this could mean many months delay in the process.

We celebrated one Christmas in our FEMA Travel Trailer. What’s one more?


Sophmom said...

Oh, Tim, I'm so sorry to hear this. I was wondering how it all was going. I can only hope that it happens faster than you expect and that y'all find someplace wonderful that you're meant to be. Looking forward to seeing you at RT.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are going to have to move, but all of us living on the sliver by the river would love to have you and your family as neighbors. Good luck with your house hunt!

Mr. Clio said...

Crap, Tim, I was really rooting for your way of doing things--rebuilding, but rebuilding smart.

If the Road Home etc. isn't rewarding your kind of plan, we're screwed. They should be incentivizing precisely the behavior you and your Darling were exhibiting. Instead, you're made to get in line again.


ashley said...

I echo what the others said.

Although, I wonder how you got your 1/12 number. I was thinking it was more like 31/365.25

But hey, ;^)

mominem said...

Congratulation on Twenty Years. Accentuate the Positive.

Laurie said...

You have been so steadfast in your decision to stay in your old neighborhood that the decision to leave had to be unbelievably difficult. I can't wait to see pictures of you and your family in your lovely new home wherever it it.

Vicky said...

Bummer. I'm so sorry. I was happy that you were going to remain in Vista Park. We came to the same conclusion, though, and that's why we're right outside of the city now. Don't like it, but it's life. I hope, however, that you're able to find a great house at an affordable price. There are plenty of houses to choose from now, for sure.

Reduno said...

Sorry about the bad news. I can only imagine what you're going thru. Even though you're not alone, that really only rationalizes things.

Congrats on 20 years. DO SOMETHING special for yourselves. IT does make a difference.

Jean Lafitte said...

What they said. That's terrible about your house, a crushing disappointment. But then, 20 years of you and Mrs. Tim is a joy, one to be proud of.

A mixed message, but that's life here on the dark side of the moon.

Karen said...

Look around my Neighborhood, we are at the edge of the Sliver, wet, but you can wade to shore, thus cheaper.


Varg said...

GREAT presentation yesterday Tim. Very informative and interesting. I could have spent the whole day talking about that stuff.

Thanks a lot.

And I'm sure I don't have to tell you how high the ground and great the view is here on Algiers Point!

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised at what you found out about pricing. Everyone in and out of the city screams for us to build, higher, safer, stronger without ever considering that not many can afford to do that. Many can also not afford to buy elsewhere, we who have choices are the lucky ones!

Michael said...

It still amazes me, as many have said before, how much money we can spend on things like Iraq, presidential campaigns, and self-congratulatory monuments, while some of the basic needs of our own people on the Gulf Coast cannot be taken care of.

The cost of one space shuttle mission would be a huge boon to the people.

Also feel your pain about the pricing. My family and I live in coastal South Carolina - of course also prone to hurricanes. The cost of building an elevated house with all the necessary protections is unreal. Only the extremely wealthy can afford it.