from a friend...
Interesting Stuart Krohn commentary. Most people that own wooden homes (majority of Belizeans) are not able to buy insurance even if they had the money.
Commentary: Insurance and savings mitigate disasters
Itís been a busy week in the media business and now that our vehicles have finally slowed down a bit on their many runs to Corozal, news director, Stewart Krohn found some time to reflect on a few of the many lessons the most recent hurricane experience has hopefully taught us.
"A lot of words and pictures have been broadcast over the last week, by ourselves and our media colleagues, in the course of our coverage of Hurricane Dean. I have not seen or heard all of it and will not try to judge its quality or bias, other than to remind viewers that reporters are human. And just like the folks working around the clock to provide relief to the Corozal District, they eventually get tired. Itís not easy to move into an emotionally charged environment in which people are suffering and produce reports that accurately reflect both the reality of the destruction and context of what can and canít be done to improve the situation. I have nothing but respect for all those who have laboured so long and hard. But my concerns coming out of this turbulent week are not cantered on journalism or even on how to solve the problems up north, which I believe are being sorted out as I speak. No, my greatest fears involve the next hurricane. The one that will hit next month, next year or next decade, or maybe all three. The experience of Dean has exposed some major flaws, not necessarily on how we respond to disaster, but how we prepare.
Both of the suggestions Iím about to make have been made many times before, but it seems very few people are listening. The first involves insurance. Yes, it can be costly and sometimes the fine print is intimidating but if you can afford to own a home, you can probably afford to insure it. on the morning after the storm when youíre sitting in front of what used to be your house, the difference between waiting for a cheque from the insurance company and waiting for a free piece of zinc from NEMO is the difference between hope and despair.
The second suggestion involves the concept of savings. There was a time when the phrase Ďsaving for a rainy dayí meant just that. You set aside a portion of every pay check and put it in an account, either for a particular future purpose or just in case. Today it seems, saving is for suckers. Belizean families prefer to max out their credit cards, owe as much as possible, and when disaster strikes, complain that government isnít giving them enough. Of course, government can never give enough because government behaves no differently than its citizens. It borrows like crazy for asperous projects, maxes out itís credit lines, and when disaster strikes goes begging to Taiwan, Venezuela and the European Union. The truth is that saving, by individual families or governments, is an essential part of disaster mitigation. I strongly believe that parents should open a credit union account for every child as he or she is born, and keep adding to it regularly, even if itís only five or ten dollars a month. When the children grow up, they take over the saving habit; and when disaster strikes their families, at least they have the means to pick up the pieces and access emergency food and shelter.
Of course, both the buying of insurance and maintaining a savings account, assume that you have a job and are not poverty stricken; a situation in which far too large a minority of Belizeans find themselves. For those disadvantaged people, the concepts of insurance and savings means little in the face of the daily struggle to survive. But thatís just the point, if those of us with the ability to plan ahead did so, then government could direct itís relief where it belongs, to those who really need it."