November 6, 2012

The Nov. 3 editorial “Risky business” misplaced blame for the “underwater” condition of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and failed to offer a serious proposal for remedy. Americans will build houses on land they own, foolishly in some cases — but try stopping them.

The NFIP has mitigated unwise construction practices and saved taxpayers billions of dollars in disaster relief since its inception. Hurricane Katrina created the deficit that now burdens the NFIP Fund, but that blame is more properly placed with the Army Corps of Engineers (and levee failure) or on historical accident (a major American city that is partially below sea level).

The editorial’s suggestion that “permitting flood-prone states to join forces and replace the federal government — and considering a greater role for the private sector” was misguided. Insurance works by spreading risk as widely as possible. The editorial proposed the opposite. Private insurance companies will not touch basic flood insurance because, even on a national level, risk cannot be spread sufficiently to avoid potential insolvency from a single, major event. Witness Katrina, and now Sandy.

Scott Sanger, Silver Spring

When I read the Nov. 2 front-page article “Island towns still off-limits, but magnitude of storm’s devastation becomes clearer,” I could not help but be touched by the sentiments of residents who wished the curious would stay away. As one person noted regarding those coming to view the devastation wrought by Sandy, “They say they just want to see it. But what is there to see, except our misery?”

I lived through a similar experience four years ago when my house burned down. For almost two weeks afterward, cars would stream into my cul de sac. The drivers would slow down, look at the house and, in some cases, take pictures. I was spending quite a bit of time at the house to meet with fire officials and to comb through the debris for anything to salvage, and I witnessed this viewing quite often. I’m sure that the visitors did not intend to cause me pain, but ultimately it seemed as if my personal loss had been turned into a circus sideshow.

The people who have lost so much due to Hurricane Sandy have enough to deal with. Please give them their space.

Janis Creekmore, Leesburg

After hearing two electric transformers pop and having my electricity go out the night that Hurricane Sandy struck, I explored my neighborhood the next morning and found a mature oak tree at each end of my block pinning the electric line to the street.

One oak was uprooted, the other was broken like a matchstick. By noon, one tree was gone, and electric workers had made requisite repairs. By midnight, the other tree was gone, and electric service was restored.

I found the responsiveness remarkable. How did it happen? By private and public organizations and workers cooperating. Workers from South Carolina-based Gregory Electric restored power, while workers from the Town of Vienna Public Works Department cleared trees. A hybrid solution worked very well for an urgent problem. We should be so pragmatic in dealing with other problems.

Fred Skaer, Vienna