Initial damage assessments for the 30 counties under the state of emergency as declared by Gov. Jim Doyle total over $470 million. The preliminary assessments indicate more than $200 million of residential damage, $45 million of damage to businesses and $146 million of agricultural losses. More than $75 million has been spent on public assistance.
Keep in mind this is just Wisconsin.
The coverage should have started in earnest when Lake Delton flooded back into the Wisconsin River and took all those houses along on its trip. It should have started when it became clear that tens of millions of dollars in crops had washed away. Or maybe when miles and miles of highway became impassable. Why did it take nearly two weeks for the national media to pay attention to the destruction in the Midwest?
Was it because the rivers rushing through towns and fields weren't big enough? Is it not a federal disaster if the Mississippi isn't involved? How was this flood that devastated so many states not worth photographs and the attention of presidential candidates until there was a Cedar Rapids could stand in for Atlantis?
I don't know why it took so long for people to start caring about all the people whose lives are destroyed. Many of the the hardest hit do not have flood insurance. The village of Lake Delton is not signed up for the federal flood insurance program. That means that even if residents had wanted to buy insurance, they wouldn't have been able to.
I might be angry because it was my home that got ignored. This time the pathetic response to catastrophe hurts me more personally. I've been on those roads and through those towns, and the damage will not stop at city limits. Commodities prices have already gone through the roof, food was expensive before the floods started, the government wants more grain for ethanol, and(I've been told by those who drive) fuel is not exactly cheap. It is not possible yet to calculate how the country will be affected, but it's going to be bad. At least for those of us without direct connections to President Bush.
It's not justice, but there is a twisted fairness to this whole situation. As my friend said to me the other day, "Now we know George Bush hates white people, too."