I can’t live without the TV show Survivor. As you know from the stories in my book, I have had some experiences in American Samoa and in the Bayou of the deep American south that could qualify me for this show and have given me some useful survival skills. Enough so that when I watch the show, I can’t believe how dumb these people are!
TV is an important thing in life. I enjoy it, certainly, but did you know that FEMA considers your television set a basic living necessity? What TV show can’t you live without?
Speaking of television, and back to the #AlohaSpirit of stopping-to-smell-the-roses in Kauai point of all this, another spot you must see is “Tattoo Falls.” Anyone who was old enough to watch Fantasy Island in the 1970’s will remember this line, “Da plane, da plane!” They will also remember those beautiful waterfalls that “da plane” circled around during the opening credits of the show. These are found on the island of Kauai. Driving through cane fields, you see the random signs for these falls and a quick walk from a parking area brings you to the ridge that looks out over them. They are a must see.
When you’re saying your prayers during and after a disaster, don’t forget the part where it says, “lead us not into temptation.” It seems too many folks are led into temptation when it comes to thinking they can get more money out of the federal government in times of disaster. In my book, I talk about ways people have tried to put one over on me and other inspectors. I also provide details about what you can and can’t use #FEMAfunds for. (Hint: You can’t use it to have a diamond embedded in your tooth.)
Don’t think you can get more money from FEMA by exaggerating the extent of your damages or working a deal with a CFI. Fraud from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita totaled more than one billion dollars. Even with the established penalties of a quarter-million dollars in fines, jail time, or both, fraudsters still take chances. Because of the enormity of the fraud in these hurricanes, the National Center for Disaster Fraud was started. This group relentlessly pursues open cases, and it may take them years but someone who made a fraudulent claim will be pursued to the greatest extent possible. You might not even know you’ve been discovered until you file annual income tax and receive a letter informing you that all future tax refunds are being withheld.
The fallout from Hurricane Sandy is still being painfully felt by New Yorkers who are being faced with demands for the return of their FEMA money. See more in this NY Post article from the last quarter of 2014.
And check out this NJ woman’s story.
Don’t find yourself delivered into evil. Fraud hurts everybody but no one worse than yourself.
God Bless America.
If you read my book, you know that pigs and I have a history. Oh man, those shoes! And all that fatback!!
Well, on a sort of related note, what do you think about wild boars? They are nothing to mess with. I went on a hunting trip for boars with nothing but a spear and a knife. Not for everyone!
Here’s another question for you. What do you think about caves? Ha!
Well, I know that boars and caves may be things that some people are afraid of, but if you’re like me and not afraid of too much, you should head over to Haena Beach Park on Kauai. Haena Beach Park is the home of the Maniniholo Dry Cave and the Waikanaloa Wet Cave. Both are worth a visit, and you can enjoy some great hiking in this park too. Just pay attention to the warnings about boars and look out if you see one because they don’t mess around.
What do Pig Farms, Wild Boars and #KauaiCaves have in common? Nada. Except they’ve all been a part of my adventures.
After Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in September of 1992, there were many families left homeless because their homes had been entirely destroyed. Many of these folks spent months in temporary spots and then in tents. They were forced to use outhouses and eat from campfires or at the disaster relief centers. And believe it or not, come December, I was still going to visit tent cities to search for people in order to complete FEMA inspection paperwork. This is how I found myself at the Hanamaulu Park tent city one morning. It had been raining for days and days and 100 or so households remained at this site because they had nowhere else to live.
I was walking around meeting up with folks when suddenly it occurred to me that these families would be in this tent city come this Christmas without anything. “Great,” I thought sarcastically to myself, “they’ll all have a delightful holiday season down here!” Suddenly, my inner Klinger-O’Reilly sprang to life. I could do something to improve their Christmas. I just knew I could! The wheels started to turn, and that was the first time it set in motion what would eventually develop into the idea for my C4DR organization.
Along my way, I have crossed paths with a few people who have tons of cash and charitable hearts. It was these people I reached out to in December of 1992, and they were willing to help me put together a Christmas for the families in #HanamauluPark. You can read more about this special Christmas (it is probably my favorite Christmas ever!) in my book.
Skip on over to my C4DR page and see if you’re not inspired to give to those suffering during disaster recovery.
After a disaster, the FEMA inspector at your door might be inexperienced, incompetent or impaired.
I spend a lot of my book talking about how a contract #FEMAinspector (CFI) is a real human being taking time out of their real life to help you, most often with the best intentions and the most professional demeanor. But it is true, (as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy) that the inspector at your door might sometimes be a bit more human than it is in your best interests.
You need to know that if you are worried about a FEMA inspector’s behavior or professionalism, if you fear you received a “kitchen inspection,” if your inspector seems to be lost through the process, you may be right. You have recourse. You can always appeal your inspection.
I encourage you to ask a few questions about the FEMA inspector’s background. “Did you do tornado (or relevant disaster) work in the past?” “How long have you been inspecting?” You have every right to know the truth about your CFI, and it is up to you to figure out whether or not they are doing the best job possible for you.
One of the major contractors had trained more than 90,000 CFIs and yet when Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey, only 3,000 showed up. The high turnover rate for CFIs is a problem, and in the wake of each disaster, rookies have to be trained to handle the number of inspections. Many of the inspections done after Hurricane Sandy, for example, were done by rookies, and may have been substandard and are probably valid candidates for appeals from the applicants. I don’t know how many of the applications were appealed, but I doubt it was anywhere near the number that could have been easily challenged.
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect and what to watch out for when you open the door to a FEMA inspector, I have a chapter in my book devoted to this.
When #HurricaneIniki hit in 1992 and I headed over as a CFI with #FEMA to Kauai for the major relief effort, I used the local #radio station, KONG radio, to establish myself there on the island. I called in to the show and secured myself a guide and a driver from the airport (cool!). Accommodations were less than stellar— we were jammed ten to a room and sleeping on cots in a hotel conference room (not cool)!
I guess KONG liked my radio voice, because I was invited to the radio station to deliver disaster relief news and advice, which I did gladly. I gave praise to the Red Cross and told listeners about MARS units of portable phone banks that the military would make available.
I talked about some of the things the National Guard’s men could do to help. I informed people that they didn’t have to just sit and wait for help. We had Disaster Assistance Centers that could give them all of the basics—food, water, sleeping bags, lights, MREs and a hot meal at the center. I reminded people about the dangers of candles and the danger of ingesting contaminated tap water.
I consistently used the broadcasts to help the islanders be safe, get support and to get their inspections done. But it was hard for us inspectors to live like sardines, and we were growing more and more fatigued.
The radio broadcasts brought attention from other media outlets, and when I ended up on CNN, I used my airtime to tell the media they were hogging all of the available accommodations and not contributing to the relief effort (You can read more about this in my book).
FEMA heard about this broadcast and told me to stop being a part of any broadcast. They said I had no business giving out information. FEMA wanted to control everything that had their name associated with it, and directly attacking the media was not something they would endorse.
Well, now I’m back on the air, taking a chance and delivering the disaster preparedness message to an audience of over 10 million so far. And telling my stories.
If you haven’t heard my show in your market, you can listen to one of my interviews here, and get a copy of my book. I now have another book out, Disaster Manual for Financial Recovery which includes what you need in case of a disaster to get the most financial assistance from the government. Buy it here for your ebook reader or in paperback.
Have you visited me on Facebook? I’ve got my radio and personal appearances listed there, and there are a bunch coming up. Come say Hi!
It’s impossible to say what is “normal.” My Real FEMA Disaster Stories emphasize this fact. What’s normal to you might be bizarre to me, and so I won’t go there. Where does “Cyber Monday” fit? I won’t go there either, but in “honor of” the new National Holiday Cyber Monday, my Kindle edition is just $4.99. And you can “gift” an e-book version same as a print book if the person you need to buy for always has their tablet device nearby. This is a deal that will entertain and inform.
If you buy my print book, you can get the Kindle version for under $2! New to e-books? Try a free Kindle reading app and discover “the new normal.”
On this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for my family!
In my book, I acknowledge my brother for his companionship, tell funny and disgusting stories about doing inspections with my dad, and note that my mom and I have the same pants-dropping doll on our windshield (and she is my biggest supporter and best friend too!). In short, my family is awesome! I have a lot to be thankful for.
In honor of this American holiday, use this coupon code at Smashwords to get my ebook at 50% off the regular price. You can get it for any ebook reader. Readers of Dust in the Wind: Real FEMA Disaster Stories get stories, yeah, but also valuable tips on preparing for a disaster and dealing with the government when disaster is declared. My book might help you protect your family in a disaster.
Click to buy an ebook here and at checkout, use coupon JQ86F. It expires on Sunday.
Or, if you prefer a good old paperback, (they make better gifts!) use the coupon code E6MAPMFB for $4 off when you buy the print book here.
When I go into people’s homes for inspections and notice evidence on their walls that they or a member of their family served in the US Military, I always make sure to thank them for their service and thank them for my freedom before I leave their house. Sometimes they seem surprised. I guess it’ something not enough people do.
To honor the veterans this Veteran’s Day, I’m offering 50% off on my ebook.
Go here, select the ebook format you need, and when you check out, use this 50% promo code: CZ36L
(coupon expires after 11/12/14)
THANK YOU FOR MY FREEDOM!
Dust in the Wind~Real FEMA Disaster Stories is available in any ebook format now. Click to buy!
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