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Fire maps tag homes to skip ( Defensible Spaces : fire buffer )
Rocky Mountain News ^ | June 10, 2006 | Todd Hartman

Posted on 06/11/2006 6:46:57 AM PDT by george76

Wildfire triage helps districts decide which properties to protect...

Increasingly wary of powerful forest fires..mountain fire districts are mapping out which vulnerable homes might be sacrificed to avoid putting firefighters in harm's way and make best use of limited resources...

Since [ the ] disastrous fire season of 2002, fire districts and departments...are rapidly assembling data to assist in hard decisions about what neighborhoods are defensible and which ones may be left to burn.

But should a fast-rising fire force districts with too few resources to make deployment decisions fast, new maps and software give firefighters instant access to the barriers and hazards some homes pose, be it long driveways, propane tanks in the trees or shrubbery surrounding the foundation.

Some of those homes...would end up as fast food for forest fires...

Only about 30 percent of homeowners have put a fire buffer around their homes by clearing trees and brush...

Even openly marking homes as defensible and burnable ahead of time is [ not enough ] of a motivator.

What is, he said, is the wrath of insurance companies.

Slowly, a small number of companies are considering the risk of living in a high-fire hazard zone when setting rates, or even whether to write a policy.

Just recently, Egizi said he received a panicked call from a real estate agent whose sale was falling through because the buyer couldn't get insurance as the house was in what Egizi called "a high-hazard zone."

• Thin trees, brush to create a "defensible space" around home.

• Stack firewood away from house.

• Clear vegetation around fire hydrants, cisterns and propane tanks.

• Make sure driveway is wide enough for firefighting vehicles.

(Excerpt) Read more at rockymountainnews.com ...


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: districts; fire; firebuffer; firedistricts; fires; forest; forestfires; insurance; wildfire; wildfires; wildlandfire

1 posted on 06/11/2006 6:46:58 AM PDT by george76
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To: george76

2 posted on 06/11/2006 6:48:23 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76

Thats OK, if the fire is big enough FEMA will step in with taxpayer funds.... Our government just hates us...


3 posted on 06/11/2006 6:52:50 AM PDT by King Moonracer
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To: King Moonracer

People would do themselves and the federal taxpayers ( us ) a big favor by assuming some personal responsibility.


4 posted on 06/11/2006 6:58:16 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76

I quite agree. My feeling is, if FEMA pays for it ONCE, FEMA owns it, therefore we don't have to pay for it again. No insurance, TF Bad! Nothing ticks me off more than, "Yup, we've been fishing off the porch for years. Never expected the river to flood."


5 posted on 06/11/2006 7:01:45 AM PDT by King Moonracer
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To: george76

If you live in the Mountains you should build your own firebreak around your house. That's just common sense.


6 posted on 06/11/2006 7:03:04 AM PDT by Leatherneck_MT (In a world where Carpenters come back from the dead, ALL things are possible.)
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To: King Moonracer
We federal taxpayers should not be rebuilding someone's house every few years.

At most once.

Then the owner should either move or take full personal responsibility.
7 posted on 06/11/2006 7:07:52 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76
Not just in wilderness areas .... I know of several buildings in our city, relic WW-II Air Corps barracks, where the Fire Department's plan of attack is to protect surounding buildings as it is assumed that these structures will be totally engulfed by the time fire units arrive.
8 posted on 06/11/2006 7:10:52 AM PDT by The Great RJ ("Mir wölle bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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To: george76
We have a big buffer around our house, but waaaaay too many crowded trees to our north.

Local officials keep stressing that all neighbors pitch in and help each other thin out dangerous areas on their property.

Do you think we can get any locals up here to cut trees in exchange for the firewood? Hell no! Everybody wants to be paid to cut and to take the wood, too.

We can't afford it so we'll probably end up on this list.

9 posted on 06/11/2006 7:15:46 AM PDT by moondoggie
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To: Leatherneck_MT

Common sense is precious and rare, thus the herd is thinned whilest the wise homeowner is conducting fire drills with the expensive hosing and other fire fighting equipment he so thoughtfully included in the Master Plan for his new home in the Wilderness.


10 posted on 06/11/2006 7:20:42 AM PDT by battlegearboat
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To: Leatherneck_MT

Many city people ( like Oprah, Dave Letterman, Ted Turner...) build a vacation home in the mountains. These " Hollywood " liberals have no clue.

They convince others with no common sense to ban spring bear hunting, vote to close existing roads ( even to fire fighters ), vote to ban logging, mining, jeeping, hunting, fishing, boating, ranching, grazing, vote to introduce wolves...

Now we have to try to educate some of these "nice people.".../s

Often, they refuse to cut one tree ...

They have no understanding of a fire break's value until after the fire has destroyed their home.


11 posted on 06/11/2006 7:21:35 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: moondoggie

I see two issues.

One, building a "moat" around your home. This defensible space might help fire fighters save your home.

Second, having a healthy forest.

The eco-nuts have convinced many that massive fires that pollute the air during the fire, then pollutes the water after the fire, kills wildlife, destroys the 'organic' soil from the high heat, causes mud slides after the fire...is "friendly."


12 posted on 06/11/2006 7:30:08 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76
...a small number of companies are considering the risk of living in a high-fire hazard zone when setting rates, or even whether to write a policy.

Something new in the field? I thought that was what insurance companies were supposed to do.

13 posted on 06/11/2006 7:31:58 AM PDT by FreePaul
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To: george76

Agreed, living up here in the Flathead Valley in Montana we see that kind of idiocy all the time. Hollywood types like living here.


14 posted on 06/11/2006 7:32:29 AM PDT by Leatherneck_MT (In a world where Carpenters come back from the dead, ALL things are possible.)
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To: The Great RJ; forester; GreenFreeper; Knitting A Conundrum

It would be nice to use the educated and experienced minds of scientists to make scientific decisions.

Instead, we have politicians, lawyers, and emotional judges making these important scientific decisions.


15 posted on 06/11/2006 7:37:37 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: King Moonracer

"Thats OK, if the fire is big enough FEMA will step in with taxpayer funds.... Our government just hates us..."




trailers all around folks


16 posted on 06/11/2006 7:42:32 AM PDT by sure_fine (*not one to over kill the thought process*)
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To: FreePaul

They've just recently woke up to the realization that there are a lot more people moving into the urban-wildland interface.

And a lot of them are doing stupid things, because it wasn't stupid when you lived in a city...but it is in the country.


17 posted on 06/11/2006 7:43:13 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: george76

You described what is happening. Lots and lots of bug killed trees to burn very very hot, and the soil gets screwed. Fire on the mountain = mudslides and degraded watershed, especially when it burns as hot as it has with all the dead wood.


18 posted on 06/11/2006 7:45:05 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Leatherneck_MT

Every time the forest service "vacates" a grazing permit, we all can see the end of another working, family rancher.

Then some "Hollywood" gentleman rancher will buy the old family homstead for his "sanctuary."

Hopefully, this sanctuary is near an airport for his private jet.../s


19 posted on 06/11/2006 7:49:14 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76
People would do themselves and the federal taxpayers ( us ) a big favor by assuming some personal responsibility.

What I don't understand is why they don't have insurance. If they do, then what do they need from FEMA. If not, then why not and why should that be our burden. We all have enough of our own. Fire insurance too expensive? Then too bad. Either pay for it, assume the responsibility if you proceed w/o it, or sell your house and move to a place where you can afford it or where it is standard with homeowners insurance.

20 posted on 06/11/2006 7:52:18 AM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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To: george76

You said it.

But the insurance companies are starting to notice the science.

They can't make communities put together fuel reduction plans, but they can refuse to issue insurance polices, which does tend to motivate people.


That will help a bit.

This year, there have been 2.7 million acres burned year to date. The Southwest is just about halfway through their normal fire season, and the northern tier hasn't begun to burn.

The 10 year average year to date is about .89 mil acres.

What to see what it's looking like? Check out this chart:

http://www.fs.fed.us/news/fire/acres.shtml


21 posted on 06/11/2006 7:53:07 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: george76

PS Same with NO. Want to live in a flood plain? Fine. Just don't hold the rest of us that decide that's not wise, to dig you out of your shortsightedness.


22 posted on 06/11/2006 7:53:11 AM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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To: george76
Re: city people...tis a problem and we see stupid things happening up here all the time.

Our new neighbor is taking out all native plants and grasses and "landscaping" the entire property to make it look lik a home in downtown Denver. LOL

Part of the beauty of living in the wilderness is learning to live with that which Mother Nature has provided and leaving it natural.

Yesterday she called to tell me she was having EVERGREENS planted around her foundation because it looks "too bare"...while everybody else around here is scambling to REMOVE evergreens within 75 feet of their house:-)

23 posted on 06/11/2006 8:00:57 AM PDT by moondoggie
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

After a big blown down, the pile of firewood can be over 30 feet high and miles wide.

If the politicians and the Sierra Club lawyers would allow the trees to be harvested promptly, then there would be enough economic value in the harvested dead fall to pay for the forest clean up.

Of course, the Sierra Club lawyers make their big fees by blocking common sense actions.

The other benefit would be local, rural jobs for working families harvesting these trees and helping to make the forest healthy.

What has been happening is sad and preventable.

As you know, the insects invade the dead trees, then invade the near by healthy trees, and then we have another massive and expensive forest fire.


24 posted on 06/11/2006 8:02:25 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: Fruitbat

The homeowners and the cities are playing the federal taxpayers as fools.

We federal taxpayers thru FEMA rebuild their houses for free.

There is no incentive to pay insurance premiums if FEMA gives you a new house every few years.

Another example is the Katerina hotels. As long as FEMA pays the hotel bills, why leave ?


25 posted on 06/11/2006 8:09:39 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76

More than that, there has been a worldwide epidemic of bark beetles, and they aren't sure why, but the greens won't let the forest managers do what they need to do to keep the forests healthy.

For instance, in the Cibola NF, they have close to 1/3 dead trees.

As of yesterday, the 1000 hour dead fuel moisture index was 2%. Kiln dried lumber is 12% moisture. This means that once those sticks get cooking, the fires spread FAST!

And this is made worse cause there is sooooo much deadwood.

And so much money has to go to lawyers, and so much has to be done on EISs (sometimes for things that ought not need them), and so much wasted paperwork that could go into good stuff like managing habitat, and taking care of trails, and other things people fault them for.


26 posted on 06/11/2006 8:11:04 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: moondoggie

Planting Kentucky blue grass is fine in Kentucky.

But these "city" people who live in arid, semi- desert areas waste alot of water trying to keep non native plants, trees, etc. alive.

No common sense.


27 posted on 06/11/2006 8:14:15 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76

I agree. If I owned a house in such a place I would provide exterior sprinklers.


28 posted on 06/11/2006 8:16:23 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. Slay Pinch)
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To: george76

I agree. If I owned a house in such a place I would provide exterior sprinklers.


29 posted on 06/11/2006 8:16:25 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. Slay Pinch)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

The Sierra Club lawyers are very skilled.

They file lawsuits and require EIS's until the dead trees lose their economic value.

The only local jobs will then be as a fire fighter when the forest explodes...at taxpayer expense.

There are many interface areas that are not prepared. Driving Interstate highways shows that many communities and small cities are major risk.

Not if, but when.


30 posted on 06/11/2006 8:24:22 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum; Grampa Dave
Thanks for the link...


31 posted on 06/11/2006 8:26:10 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76
The homeowners and the cities are playing the federal taxpayers as fools.

We federal taxpayers thru FEMA rebuild their houses for free.

There is no incentive to pay insurance premiums if FEMA gives you a new house every few years.

Another example is the Katerina hotels. As long as FEMA pays the hotel bills, why leave ?

Yeah, I know. The irony is that if an isolated case of only one or a few disastrous results, FEMA rarely does anything. Why is it that hundreds or thousands of homes that get wiped out by a hurricane get paid for but those that say get hit as only one of a few in some other nature event never get squat.

Not that I'm in favor of this nonsense, but if it's taxpayer funded, shouldn't it apply to all Americans regardless of whether or not they're "one-sy" situations or big disasters.

32 posted on 06/11/2006 9:21:21 AM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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To: Fruitbat

There has to be a declaration of a disaster area first...They aren't set up to do "onesies." If you want to expand FEMA into an agency with more full time employees (most of them work full time for other agencies, and only do FEMA work when there is a big disaster, (like most of the management for Wildland Fire don't do that all year long either - mostly work for the FS or the BLM or one of the other land management agencies)) then you might be able to get small cases covered. But it will cost.


33 posted on 06/11/2006 9:38:41 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Fruitbat

Many small towns next to rivers that often flood have created city parks with ball fields and picnic areas in the flood planes.

The old mills that were built in the 1800's for water power were bought out and torn down. The homes in these flood planes were bought ( once ), torn down, and the families moved to higher ground.

I remember even whole towns were moved to higher ground.

Building and/or rebuilding with federal tax money below sea level or in a flood plane makes no common sense.

We should only bail them out once...not after every storm.


34 posted on 06/11/2006 9:43:21 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: george76

Wouldn't be surprised if we end up with an assigned risk pool like like the way flood insurance is run for wildland fire.

Catastrophic flooding can hit almost anywhere based on too much rain coming down too fast, but building in an area that is in the 100 year flood plain starts to ask for trouble...and if you are even lower down, you will have trouble.

Some problems happen because cities allow development in at risk areas. I've seen places you KNOW will get landslides, or be at risk for fire, or flood, and they still let developers develop.

Those people (the government people who approve the development) ought to be personally liable when the disaster happens.

I've been in 3 100 year floods and two freak heavy rain floods. Personally haven't been flooded out in any of them, but came close once.

I've seen people building in areas they think are safe because there are damns upstream, but my gut instinct said "this is dangerous!".

But some years, to keep the dams from damage, they have to slip water out of the dam that will make the river be above flood stage. They had to do that in Boise this year.

If you want to live in those areas, you really need to be required to self-insure.


35 posted on 06/11/2006 9:59:56 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum
There has to be a declaration of a disaster area first...They aren't set up to do "onesies." If you want to expand FEMA into an agency with more full time employees (most of them work full time for other agencies, and only do FEMA work when there is a big disaster, (like most of the management for Wildland Fire don't do that all year long either - mostly work for the FS or the BLM or one of the other land management agencies)) then you might be able to get small cases covered. But it will cost.

Yes, but perhaps I didn't articulate it well enough. Just b/c something's "declared a disaster" only makes it a disaster politically. I can see FEMA assisting with municipal rebuilding, etc. But they pay homeowners too. A tornado wiping out a single house is no federal or state "disaster," but what's the difference practically between a homeowner losing his home to that or one that loses his in a hurricane among many others? There is none. Both people lost a home due to a natural disaster. Just labeling one something doesn't matter practically speaking.

36 posted on 06/11/2006 10:55:54 AM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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To: george76
Building and/or rebuilding with federal tax money below sea level or in a flood plane makes no common sense.

We should only bail them out once...not after every storm.

I wouldn't even bail them out once if they built knowing that is was a flood plain. NO is many feet below sea level. Of course it's going to flood at some point. Could have been later rather than sooner, but we knew that it was going to happen.

If I were one of those people, I'd move from NO and never go back.

37 posted on 06/11/2006 10:58:03 AM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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To: Fruitbat

I know what you mean, but this has to do with economies of scale and cost, rather than fairness.

It would require even larger bureaucracy.


38 posted on 06/11/2006 11:37:30 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

I'm not at all saying it should even be done though. Just challenging the wisdom/fairness as you say. I think everyone should take out their own insurance. FEMA is in essence just another entitlement program and one that perhaps overlays private insurance efforts. It also doesn't do much to discourage irresponsibility in that way.

On a related side note, I wonder when the federal government will collapse economically under its own weight. (rhetorical)


39 posted on 06/11/2006 12:13:55 PM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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To: Fruitbat

Real problem with the Federal government is not the total number of employees. It's the fact that there are too many agencies that do overlapping work, and many, if not all of them are short staffed right now to keep costs down.

But what we need is to have agencies merged. All the agencies that manage land functions and related, for instance, need to be under one roof. There is an awful lot of duplication of effort, and a huge amount of friction between related agencies (sort of like the Army vs. Airforce vs. Navy type thing).

There are huge diseconomies of scale because of this. Everybody's running around with staffs that are downsized past the point of efficency, and it still costs too much money. And there's still too much paperwork.

And there aren't even that many people left with the old civil service retirement. In less than 5 years, they will probably all be gone.

It's terribly klugy because of this.

FEMA is a great example of yet another extra level. There are agencies that have developed excellent disaster/emergency techniques (like the agencies that handle wildland fire) that get the jobs done with efficiency, minimal costs, lots of prepositioning and carefully designed contracts. People from all over the world come to study how they do it so well and so efficiently with minimal waste, while involving both private sector and state, local and federal authorities.

So instead of building on that infrastructure, FEMA is yet another agency recreating the wheel poorly, wasting lots and lots of money with bad last minute contracting and poor oversight.

If you want more efficient government, it means looking at things from the cabinet level down, and eliminating a lot of duplication, but barring some major catastrophe that forces the government to really reorganize, and not just cut costs, it's not going to happen.


40 posted on 06/11/2006 2:34:44 PM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

I'm not sure if we're losing each other here.

I'm against citizens receiving anything in the way of reimbursement for property for stuff like Katrina.

Water, food, short-term (days/weeks, perhaps months at the longest for extreme circumstances) assistance with temp housing, and perhaps some logistical help are fine.

But when FEMA ends up paying for people to live for nearly a year after something like that while handing out credit cards that go for utterly unnecessary things, then that's a total slap in the face to the American taxpayer, namely you, I, and everyone else that pays taxes.

Bottom line, if people don't have insurance for their homes/property, TFB. Time to file for bankrupcy and start over. The irresponsible trump the responsible and are rewarded for their irresponsibility and cognizant risk taking. Am I incorrect, or are some people not receiving money for their property in NO, AL, and MS?

If I had one of those homes in NO (AL or MS) that was destroyed completely, I'd take the insurance money, or the hit if I didn't have insurance, and move elsewhere never even giving returning to those areas a thought. I don't care if my great, great, great, .... grandmommy lived there in 1610. I'd uproot completely, leave, go elsewhere where there aren't the flooding, landslide, or earthquake risks and live there.

Meanwhile, as you say, or rather imply perhaps, the cost of implementing FEMAs efforts probably reduce the efficacy of every dollar collected to a matter of pennies as they pay their overhead and indirectly pay into the corruption along the way.


41 posted on 06/11/2006 2:46:18 PM PDT by Fruitbat (I)
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