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Recovery phase

It’s been nearly two weeks since we were hit with Hurricane Irma. One of my neighbors reported to me that he filed a claim with FEMA through disasterassistance.gov and received a disaster payment of over $800. I have seen many people claiming that people who want less government and want the government out of our lives are hypocrites for requesting government aid after a disaster. I don’t agree. Yes, I am against big government, and I think that the only way for us to balance the budget and save our government is to cut spending. However, that has not happened, so even though I think the government spends too much, I am outvoted, and must pay the high taxes of a bloated government. Like Obamacare, I am forced to buy a product that I do not want. Since I am paying for it, I am going to get as much of what I have already paid for as I can.

Anyway, I filed the claim with FEMA, and told them I was without power for several days, and had damage to my home from wind driven rain and from water. I stated that the damage was minor. I got back a note saying that my home needed to be inspected to see how much I would receive, and I would need to file an insurance claim before I would receive any funds. My damage was largely not visible, and has already been repaired. Since the damage does not even fulfill my hurricane deductible, I did not file an insurance claim.

During the storm, we were without power for days. Since that time, our electrical power has been anything but reliable. There have been at least three major power outages in our area, with a two hour outage last night.

My home has been plagued with electrical issues, including tripping breakers, failing electronics, and other technology issues. 

One circuit kept tripping each morning at about 3 am and would successfully reset, only to trip again the next morning. the problem was this was the breaker for my garage door opener and some of my exterior security lighting. Not knowing whether or not you will be able to enter the home after being at work meant that we needed to keep backup keys for the front door with us. The breaker finally tripped and would not reset.

I went out and worked my way through the circuit, and found two issues: A light sensor had shattered, and the conductors were touching the metal of the conduit box, and there was another conduit box that was filled with water, probably wind driven rain water. I repaired both by draining the water, and eliminating the sensor from the circuit. I replaced the bulb in the light fixture with a smart LED bulb that now comes on at sunset, and is less likely to get damaged by weather. Cost: less than $50.

I have had at least one UPS simply decide to stop working. Sure, their job is to protect more expensive devices and they did their job, but it is still hurricane related damage. I also lost three IOT devices that were a part of my Smart Home system, as well as water damage to the buried coaxial cable that runs between the house and the dish. I imagine that some of this damage was due to the dozens of undervolt and overvolt power surges we have experienced in the past two weeks, and the rest by wind driven as well as ground water.

On top of that, we lost two trees and had damage to some other landscaping, and other outdoor damage. There was some minor roof damage, but that was repaired already because we made reservations with a repair company before the storm.

So when the FEMA inspector gets here, all of the damage will have been repaired. I didn’t file an insurance claim because it wouldn’t have met the deductible, but we will see. I know there were others who had worse than we did, but that was a result of not living in a flood prone area, not living in a mobile home, and preparing for the approaching storm. Hopefully, we can get a little cash for what damages we did have. To do otherwise would be yet another example of government rewarding people for poor decisions while requiring the responsible citizens to pay the tab.

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Hurricane Deductible

This post began as a footnote for another post, but grew to the point that I decided to make a post out of it.

After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the insurance companies complained that they could not afford to pay all of the damage claims, despite the fact that they had been collecting homeowners’ insurance premiums without a hurricane making Florida landfall since 1979.  (Hurricane David, a Cat2 storm)

The last time a major Hurricane had hit the state was Eloise in 1975. Despite this, the insurance industry did not have the money to pay claims.) They convinced the state to allow them to only pay a portion of what they were supposed to pay, and then had the law changed so that they would have so-called hurricane deductibles, which are a percentage of your home’s value, instead of a dollar amount.

The published insurance literature states that all insurers (for personal lines-homeowners) must offer hurricane deductibles of $500.00, 2%, 5% and 10%.  Obviously, the higher the percentage, the lower the premium cost for hurricane wind insurance.  Of course the trade-off for paying lower premiums is that you expose yourself to a very high cash payout if a hurricane damages your property.

If your home is damaged by multiple hurricanes in a single short period, as happened in Central Florida in 2004, multiple deductibles apply. For example, there were four storms in 2004, your hurricane deductible was 2%, so you would have to pay for $16,000 in repairs on a $200,000 home (8% of the damages) before your insurance would pay a single dime.

On top of this, a hurricane claim will not be paid if the hurricane damage is caused by water on the ground, because THAT is considered flooding. Unless you are in a flood area, you can’t even buy flood insurance. What this means is that insurance companies have almost no liability for hurricane damage. Instead, Florida homeowners are left holding the bag. Because of this, when there is a large hurricane, many homeowners simply walk away from severely damaged homes, and banks are left to foreclose or not, with taxpayers having to pay to clean up the destroyed and damaged properties.

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Just an innocent man trying to make a living

Sometimes you see a case that reminds you why Florida’s Civil liability statute is so important. That law specifies that you are immune from civil liability if you lawfully use or threaten force to defend yourself, others, or prevent a forcible felony, including armed robbery.

We all have seen the Starbucks robbery, where a man with a fake gun and a real knife was robbing the place, and a man stopped the robbery. In the process, they began wrestling for the knife, and the bystander was stabbed in the neck by the robber, while the robber was stabbed 13 times with his own knife. The robber and his mother insist that the force used to stop the robbery was excessive, and the stab to the neck was self defense, because the robber was trying to escape.

Watch the video: (Youtube won’t allow the video to be embedded)

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Facts are unimportant to BLM

Some NFL players who are part of BLM are demanding that the NFL declare that November is anti-cop month, because 300 people have been shot by police since 2016. There is a problem with that supposed “fact.” Here is the quote from the letter that the players sent to the league:

Since 2016, police have shot over 300 men and women in this country. Some of the names and stories are familiar—Jordan Edwards, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, but hundreds of others are not,” 

There are a number of inaccuracies here:
1 Trayvon Martin was shot in 2012, not 2016.
2 He was shot by a private citizen in a case where the trial determined it was self defense, not by police.

When it is so easy to find lies in your letter, how can we trust anything else you have to say?

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Chickens roosting

The mayor of San Diego in May denied that the city is a sanctuary city, but the mayor also refuses to allow the city’s police to cooperate with Federal authorities who are attempting to enforce immigration laws. 

There has been an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Sand Diego. In case you are unaware, Hepatitis A is spread through the oral-fecal route, where a person who is infected uses the defecates, doesn’t wash his hands, and then touches something that becomes coated for the next person to touch and eventually eat. It is an pandemic in third world countries, and when the inhabitants of those third world cesspools with inadequate sanitation come to the US, they bring it with them. Once it arrives in an area, the inhabitants who have the lowest level of cleanliness are at highest risk- the homeless, the poor, and illegal immigrants.

So now that the illegals who are in San Diego have brought the disease with them have caused an epidemic within the city, the city is crying to the Feds for help solving a situation that the city’s officials have helped create. I hope the Feds say no, and force the city to deal with its own problems.

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Sandals

Last year, the wife and I decided to travel to Jamaica. We had never stayed at an all inclusive resort before, so we booked a week at Sandals Negril, Jamaica. It is an all inclusive resort, with everything being covered- food, lodging, transfer to and from the closest airport, alcohol, and unlimited use of the recreation facilities. The cost? $4,200.

We paid for it, and we also bought some extras, which were available for an extra fee:
– ATV ride in the jungle
– Candlelight dinner on the beach
– Couple’s massage
– Breakfast in bed
– Champagne delivered to the room
and others. These extras cost in the neighborhood of another $1,000.

We never received many of the items for which we were charged extra, even after we complained to management.

Additionally, most of the amenities were centered around the beach, and  as a consequence, there was not much to do there after dark. Aside from sitting at one of the lounges (where there was no entertainment most nights) and getting drunk, or buying marijuana from the numerous people who were selling (we were not interested) there was little to do at night.

They have tried to silence us through legal intimidation. I can only say this: Sandals resorts are not a good value for the money, do not deliver what was promised or paid for, and will use legal intimidation tactics to silence negative reviews. Avoid them.

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Road rage

So there was a group of motorcycle riding college students in Oklahoma who apparently cut off a man who was riding in his pickup truck with his wife and kids. Apparently, the man in the truck took this as a mortal insult, began a road rage argument, and called ahead to have some friends stop them in a roadside ambush.  One of the ambushers fired a shotgun in the air to get the bikers to stop.

The armed friends held part of the group at gunpoint and threatened to kill them, while the trucker beat one of the bikers, and the fat one pulled a knife on one of the bikers and threatened to cut his throat. Then, they stole a cell phone that was being used to film the incident. Here is video of the incident:

At 6:48, the Fat guy, who claimed to be part of the Hell’s Angels, told them that losing the cell phone is the price you pay for doing the wrong thing. If you listen 7:44, the fat guy told one of the students: “You shouldn’t even be up here, you don’t live here. Go home.” Then he says “I hope none of you plan on pursuing this with the law.”

Well, the posted the video, which drew the attention of the cops. You can count the felonies yourself: Armed robbery, aggravated battery, brandishing, intimidating a witness, and more. I am sure there are dozens of crimes that could be charged here.

This is NOT how you handle a road rage incident. Even though there was an arrest made, the small town sheriff appears to be covering for his locals, and is refusing to make more than one arrest, or even release details. It is obvious that the police are engaged in a cover up.

Even if the motorcyclists were in the wrong, the locals escalated the issue, and then  committed robbery and battery. This goes WAY beyond self defense. This is how NOT to defend yourself from road rage.

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Looting, display of a firearm, and curtilage: the law

If you have a generator outside during a power outage, how can you legally protect it? What law would allow you to point a firearm at a looter who is attempting to steal your stuff? In order to protect your survival equipment, it must be within ‘curtilage’ , according to Jon Gutmacher, the attorney who is the author of  FLORIDA FIREARMS Law, Use & Ownership

If you place your generator within your fenced yard, it becomes ‘curtilage’ meaning that it is a part of your house.  Read his opinion here. Here is the money quote:

As a general rule of thumb — if you’re concerned whether you can display your firearm  if you see someone who might be trying to steal it,  and it is not already inside a fenced area — perhaps the quick solution is to erect a  temporary fence that attaches to the main dwelling house and surrounds the generator.  It must be at least 3 feet high, but can be as simple as using chain or heavy rope between short posts — as a temporary fence.  You can even have an opening, although I think it legally smarter that any opening be closed when not attended.  Even if you can step over it — as long as it is at least 3 feet high — it’s within “curtilage”.  That way,  any unlawful entry into the gated area is a “burglary” and a forcible felony, and display of a firearm and a verbal threat should be totally lawful. 

If you live in Florida, owning and reading this book is a must. 
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Looting and security issues

During the storm, we began seeing reports of looting in south Florida. Some were reported by the local branches of the MSM, with video. Some, it turned out, were false. For example, this came out from one sheriff’s office:

You may have seen a post on social media that citizens are being robbed at gunpoint in their homes by individuals posing as electric workers. Beware of internet/social media rumors, we have not received any calls regarding this. Utility workers will be out to do damage assessments as soon as it is safe to do so and AFTER the storm has passed. Right now there are three times the amount of deputies on the road to keep you safe during this storm.


A market in Tampa was looted by thieves who backed a stolen truck through the front of the store.

My wife returned to work today to find out that at least three homes of coworkers and students had been looted while the power was out.

The second powerless night at our home, we were sitting in the living room with all the doors and windows open for cooling, reading books by LED lantern when BOOM a loud report sounded outside, I told the Mrs to shut off the lights and, as I got up, BOOM a second report sounded. I grabbed my AR15, turned on the EOTech sight and ran outside to take cover by the car. My immediate thought was that a neighbor had caught some looters.

Then a third report, with a bright flash coming from one street over. About the time that registered, a starburst shell popped overhead. Fireworks. My wife logged into the Facebook Page for the neighborhood watch and complained. Shooting fireworks during a disaster with a blackout. The reason they gave? The guy said it was his wife’s birthday. “Besides,” he said, “the kids loved it.” My wife told them that this was inappropriate with everything that was going on. She was answered with the following picture from the neighbor who was shooting the fireworks:

Some of my neighbors are ignorant assholes.

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Tools to help you bug in, or “hunker down”

There are a few things that I had in the house that really made getting through the Hurricane with the level of safety and comfort that we had possible. Most of this stuff, you probably already have:

A set of Black and Decker 20v tools. Since they all use the same battery, buying these tools meant that I had plenty of batteries on hand. Having a bettery operated chainsaw meant that I could save the fuel for use in the generator:

  1. Cordless Drill
  2. Electric Chainsaw 
  3. Reciprocating Saw

A Fluke Multimeter: The fact that it measures true RMS, and allows you to check frequency is a good feature to have when measuring generator output. Besides, Fluke makes the best meters in the business, IMO.

A good set of screwdrivers, a pair of adjustable crescent wrenches, and a pair of Klein wire strippers.

A case of Chem lights: These are good for when you are in your safe room, and need long duration light without killing flashlight batteries.


A couple of these. Be careful, some of them are made by inferior companies. I know, because one of mine didn’t hold a charge for more than an hour, even if it wasn’t being used.

A cable bike lock, to secure your generator while it is outside running. I chained mine to the second car during the day, and when I shut it down at night, it went back into the garage.

A propane stove, and the adaptor to use it with full sized propane cylinders. Also, make sure you have at least two cylinders.

Good work gloves. Your hands are essential to survival, and an injury during a natural disaster means that you are now useless. I use mechanic’s gloves from WalMart. They cost about $15, and are much better than gardening gloves or generic leather work gloves, because they are more comfortable and allow more dexterity.

Plenty of rechargeable batteries. While we ran the gennie during the day to cool down the freezer/refrigerator, we also watched TV and recharged batteries, and got cleanup done. These tools were vital to making that happen.