Now that the immediate shock of the flooding and evacuation are beginning to pass, many victims of Hurricane Katrina are being forced to confront the havoc the storm wreaked on their finances. And for many, this has meant going deeply in debt -- a debt they may never be able to repay:
Jerry and Deborah Alciatore fled New Orleans with nothing but a couple of overnight bags, an ice chest and their credit cards. The bags emptied quickly, but two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit, the balance on the credit cards is mounting fast.
Their first week on the road, they charged $1,600 in food and hotel bills in Houston, about $400 worth of clothing, mostly from discount stores, and a couple hundred more on gasoline.
"I'm worried. We have about a one-month gap where my income will be cut off and so will my wife's," he said. "I have to see if my business is still going to be OK. We're going to be out of our house for maybe three months, but I have a mortgage payment every month, and now we have to rent an apartment."
Thanks to the bankruptcy bill Congress passed last April -- with the support of 12 Democrats -- many of these people will be forced into perpetual debt slavery. Now, a group of 31 Democrats -- mostly stalwart progressives -- have asked that those affected by Katrina be exempted from the legislation, which goes into effect October 17th. But leaders in Congress have no intention of letting Katrina victims off the hook:
Survivors of Hurricane Katrina who were hoping to avoid the weight of the new bankruptcy law may be out of luck. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has indicated he will not hold a hearing on waiving the law for purposes of disaster relief.
Far more important to protect the credit card industry than those thankless hurricane victims, right? I mean, how much money have the poor folk given to their members of Congress lately?