Frustrating Hurricane Reporting

This Reuters story doesn’t make sense to me.

Referring to Florida residents hardest-hit by Hurricane Charley, on the one hand, Reuters reports:

Immediate needs such as water, food and shelter appeared to have been quickly met. Some 4,000 National Guard troops ferried supplies, erected tents for temporary shelter and patrolled against looting.

“We’re very well taken care of, there’s lots of everything,” Kathy Tooker, 30, said. She and her four children were among some 500 people at a Red Cross shelter at the L.A. Ainger Middle School in Englewood.

On the other hand, the article goes on to say:

But frustration, fatigue and anger were beginning to set in. Some of the people at the shelter were wondering when they would get vouchers for food and housing…

The story seemingly is reporting both that the displaced residents have been given food and housing yet are frustrated that they do not have vouchers for food and housing…?

The story goes on to interview residents who want money from the federal government:

“It’s tough…. Just trying to clean up. Tough to start over,” said Anthony Jones, 42, whose two-bedroom mobile home in Punta Gorda was shredded.

Jones, speaking after a day of picking through his scattered belongings, said he was not insured and hoped for help from the federal government.

I realize what I am about to comment is going to offend some people, but why the heck did he live in a mobile home in hurricane country without insurance? And why should federal taxpayers who live in lower-risk states (many of whom bought insurance for their own homes despite — in probably most cases — lower risk of home loss) give him their heard-earned money? I do have sympathy for the fact that he lost his home, but I think this sounds like a case in which (if he can’t afford to buy a replacement home) he should get himself a rental apartment and leave his fellow taxpayers out of it.

Back to the article. On the Reuters website, it is headlined: “Floridians Who Lost Homes to Charley Frustrated.” Yet the only indication of frustration is the mysterious matter of wanting food and housing vouchers. The rest of the story is about officials expressing gratitude at the low loss of life and satisfaction that the food and housing needs of the displaced have been so successfully met.

I’m sure it is very tough for the hurricane victims. I’m sure it is even tough for those who evacuated and came home again, particularly those in poor health or who had to travel with small children. I’m also sure that most Floridians handled all this with grace under pressure and without expecting or requesting public funds. I bet most Florida homeowners actually have insurance. Why doesn’t this Reuters story reflect this? Why must disaster reporting always seem make it seem like folks are up a creek without a paddle unless and until the federal government steps in?

The people of Florida, I bet, are way more self-reliant than this article lets on.

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