20 September 2005

Times Beach, Missouri, Volume II

Do you remember the story of Times Beach?

In a nutshell, the town was built on Old Route 66,on the bank of the Meramec River.

The Meramec flooded frequently.

I'm unsure of the exact date, but sometime in the late 70's the river overflowed it's banks and the residents were forced to evacuate their homes.

Residents were generally poor, and most didn't have flood insurance,
so there was a great clamor for the Federal Government to help people rebuild their homes and lives.

And the U.S. Government responded and spent the $$$$$.

Now, the residents of Times Beach were logical people, right?
They got the help rebuilding their homes.
But they STILL lived alongside a river that flooded frequently.
So to make sure they were never in that predicament again,
they took EVERY action possible to avoid a recurrence,
to include buying flood insurance, right?

Wrong, Bunky!

In 1982, the river rose again, and once again forced people out of their homes.
And again, there was a great cry for Federal help.

My thought was, how can these people expect the U.S. taxpayer to pull their stones outta the fire this second time?
But this time, there was a twist.........

In the early 70's, residents had hired a waste oil hauler to spray oil
on their roads to control dust.
This DIRTBAG had taken a contract to dispose of waste oil that contained high levels of Dioxin.

And where did he dispose of the Dioxin-tainted oil?
Oh, Bunky, you are quick!

Times Beach.

Now, Times Beach residents didn't need to say,
"we were flooded out again, help us".
Instead the clamor was: "we have poisons all around our homes.......help us!"

And the U.S. taxpayer responded again, buying out homes of people that didn't have the sense to buy flood insurance,
although they lived alongside the oft-flooding Meramec!

You see where I'm headed with this, right?
Flooding.......toxic waste..........flooding again.

Katrina delivered a powerful punch to New Orleans,
and now Rita may be on the way.

And what about next hurricane season, and the next.............and the next?

Is New Orleans STILL under sea level?
Yes, Bunky, I believe it is!

If we spend BILLIONS and BILLIONS and BILLIONS rebuilding and detoxing
New Orleans over the next years,
will New Orleans be under water again in the future?

Am I truly on a rant here?
Right on both counts, Bunk!

There WILL be common-sense talk about using the BILLIONS to build the city somewhere else, and allow the Mississippi to reclaim New Orleans.

Folks that take this stance will be called racists,
and worse.

I have NO DOUBT we will spend the BILLIONS this time.

But it will happen again,
just like Times Beach.

And then..........better decision making may prevail.



Infinitegtr said...

Two weeks ago, I thought, same as you, that there would be deliberate debate and a well-conceived and brilliantly executed plan at rebuilding New Orleans. This, I thought, would be the universe's attempt to compromise with me, because I dont think she should be rebuilt at all.

Yesterday I read that 87% of the city is now "de-watered" or whatever the hell phrase is being used. In a few short weeks, the city will be water free.

People are ready to start pouring back in. There will be no thoughtful rebuilding plan, nor will common sense prevail as residents filter back in. President Bush apparently promised to rebuild every home, every park, every school... I had no idea the Bush family fortune was so large.

Dammit, you forced my hand, and now I have to write the Anchorage blog before Rita pours Galveston into Houston.

Mike said...

Times Beach is a creepy place. I remember flying over it and thinking how much it reminded me of Phillips, Texas.

When I was a college dropout during the first Gulf War, I took a job as a security guard at the Phillips Petroleum Refinery.

It is the largest inland refinery in the world and it served our egos to think that this scar on the West Texas canyonlands would be a terrorist target.

When the refinery was built a town sprang up next to it to house the employees during the oil boom of the 30's.

In 1980 there was a huge explosion that basically wiped out the city. The plant bought out homes and shut down the schools, fire station etc.

I remember patrolling the old town after a tornado in 1990. It was a creepy place with houses and schools just abandoned and empty, laid out in neat little blocks. Fire trucks sat motionless in the fire station and it looked like the town populace just 'disappeared'.

Oleprairiedog said...

I'm not positive, but in most states, if you live in a flood plain, you can't buy insurance, no one will cover you.

Jennifer said...

Funny, I ran across your blog while searching for information on the town that I once lived in as a child! While I can understand your concern for forking out money to those who are in need in times of disaster, I wonder how much information you really have on the circumstances that surround these people? As a child, of course I could not choose where I lived. But do you not think I would have rather have lived somewhere else? My family did not get any governmental aid, as we did not own, but rented a home there. As for insurance, we could not get that either as no one would give flood insurance to a renter. So we were out of a home, clothes, everything that we had. As an adult, I am wiser to choose my living conditions carefully, but I have to wonder just how many children are out there like me who simply did not have a choice?

Donna said...

Well, as far as Times Beach is concerned, you do only have a few of your facts right. It was considered a flood zone, therefore, not able to get insurance. I lived there, in the same home, my childhood home, since 1958. Until the time came on Dec 5, 1982 the flood waters never entered our home. And if you recall, it did not only enter our homes, but covered the town completely, where it was not even visible for several days. It took another week or 2 before we were even allowed to enter on foot, and walk a mile or more to our homes to see if there was a crumb of personal things that were salvagable. I miss my home, very much... but yes, now it is a State Park... hmmmm, go figure!! So I guess they must have done something to keep the waters from rising to the point of ruining their beautiful park... had they only done something to stop it from ruining our lives back then.... God Bless!!

Greybeard said...

Well you seem to have PART of your facts right also, Donna. Flood insurance is, (and was) available to everyone. I know this because in 1974 I considered the purchase of a home that was in a 500 year flood plain. Like a smoker that thinks "it won't happen to me", I think anyone living in a coastal area or next to a river who doesn't partake of the flood insurance program is whistling past the graveyard.

I lived in St. Louis during those years and my post reflects my memories of those events. I remember being incredulous that Times Beach residents could take advantage of others the way they did. SO MANY things similar to that are happening today (Katrina), I'm NO LONGER surprised by anything!

I'm amazed you found this old post...
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.