Monday, November 27, 2006

Life, Remeberance and Katrina

Last week my Aunt died after a long illness. She was my mother's sister and a wonderful woman. When I was a child all of my mother's family lived in the same town and we saw each other frequently. I grew up seeing my cousins almost weekly.

Over the years the family dispersed to different parts of the country, so I haven't seen her much in the last several years. I last saw her at a family reunion in South Carolina which was disrupted by Hurricane Ivan so many people couldn't make it.

I consider myself lucky, both my of parents are still living and in relatively good health. That is a blessing.

At times like this we always reflect on life and this time is no different. I remember things.

One thing I remembered is something my parents did when my father retired. They sold their big two story house near Houston and bought a new smaller one story house in a small East Texas town away from the coast. I never have understood how they came to pick the town they picked.

The strategy was sound. They used the equity in their old house to entirely pay for a smaller new house better suited to their needs as they would grow older. They also eliminated a mortgage payment, freeing up a significant part of their retirement income. As Betsy survivors (they lost almost all of their furniture) they wanted to be safe from hurricanes, so they moved away from the coast. Not quite far enough it turns out, Rita left them without power for a week and a tree fall on their house.

It occurs to me that many people in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast will now never be able to do what my parents did. They have lost the equity they had built up over many years and are now saddled with substantial new debt, in the form of low interest SBA Disaster Loans. I don't see how people of ordinary means can overcome that.

1 comment:

Pamela said...

Good point. My parents did the same thing, moving from Slidell to a small east Texas town (coincidence???) about 7 years ago. They sold the larger house and were able to completely pay for their current house that has a big wonderful workshop for Dad. Although their house in Slidell did not flood in Katrina, it did sustain damage and they were very grateful to not be there anymore. I think to not have to deal with the stress alone was worth it. They might could have sold the house for more in those crazy days post-Katrina than they did a few years before, but they are happy and safe and that is infinitely more important. I can't imagine if they had lost the house and had to start over. Their finances couldn't have handled it and that stress would be with them forever.