Fair Play . . . . or less. From The Smithsonian Magazine

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Why Are Jim Thorpe’s Olympic Records Still Not Recognized?

In 1912, Jim Thorpe became the greatest American Olympian of all time, but not if you ask the IOC

Jim Thorpe 1912 Stockholm Games Jim Thorpe’s epic performance in the 15 events that made up the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Summer Games remains the most solid reflection we have of him. (Bettmann / Corbis) By Sally Jenkins
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July 2012

It’s been 100 years since Jim Thorpe dashed through the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, and we’re still chasing him. Greatest-evers are always hard to quantify, but Thorpe is especially so, a laconic, evasive passerby who defies Olympic idealizing. A breakfast of champions for Thorpe was no bowl of cereal. It was fried squirrel with creamed gravy after running all night in the woods at the heels of his dogs. Try catching up with that.

He was a reticent Sac and Fox Indian from the Oklahoma frontier, orphaned as a teenager and raised as a ward of government schools, uncomfortable in the public eye. When King Gustaf V of Sweden placed two gold medals around Thorpe’s neck for winning the Olympic pentathlon and decathlon and pronounced him the greatest athlete in the world, he famously muttered, “Thanks,” and ducked more illustrious social invitations to celebrate at a succession of hotel bars. “I didn’t wish to be gazed upon as a curiosity,” he said.

Thorpe’s epic performance in the 15 events that made up the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Summer Games remains the most solid reflection we have of him. Yet even that has a somewhat shadowy aspect. The International Olympic Committee stripped his medals and struck his marks from the official record after learning that he had violated the rules of amateurism by playing minor-league baseball in 1909-10.

“Those Olympic records are the best proof that he was superb, and they aren’t official,” says Kate Buford, author of a new biography of Thorpe, Native American Son. “He’s like the phantom contender.”

Phantomness has left him open to stigma and errors. For instance, it was popularly believed that Thorpe was careless of his feats, a “lazy Indian” whose gifts were entirely bestowed by nature. But he was nonchalant only about celebrity, which he distrusted. “He was offhand, modest, casual about everything in the way of fame or eminence achieved,” recalled one of his teachers, the poet Marianne Moore.

In fact, Thorpe was a dedicated and highly trained athlete. “I may have had an aversion for work,” he said, “but I also had an aversion for getting beat.” He went to Stockholm with a motive: He wanted to marry his sweetheart, Iva Miller. Her family disapproved of the match, and Thorpe was out to prove that a man could make a good enough living at games to support a wife. Point proved: They would be married in 1913. Photographs of him at the time verify his seriousness of purpose, showing a physique he could only have earned with intense training. He was a ripped 185 pounds with a 42-inch chest, 32-inch waist and 24-inch thighs.

“Nobody was in his class,” says Olympic historian Bill Mallon. “If you look at old pictures of him he looks almost modern. He’s cut. He doesn’t look soft like the other guys did back then. He looks great.”

The physique was partly the product of hard labor in the wilderness of the Oklahoma Territory. By age 6, Thorpe could already shoot, ride, trap and accompany his father, Hiram, a horse breeder and bootlegger who would die of blood poisoning, on 30-mile treks stalking prey. Jim Thorpe was an expert wrangler and breaker of wild horses, which he studied for their beautiful economy of motion and tried to emulate. Clearly the outdoors taught him the famous looseness of movement so often mistaken for lassitude. “He moved like a breeze,” sportswriter Grantland Rice observed.

The discovery of Thorpe at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, the government-run boarding institution for Native Americans he attended from 1904 to 1913, between bouts of truancy, is a well-worn story. In 1907 he was ambling across the campus when he saw some upperclassmen practicing the high jump. He was 5-foot-8, and the bar was set at 5-9. Thorpe asked if he could try—and jumped it in overalls and a hickory work shirt. The next morning Carlisle’s polymath of a football and track coach, Glenn “Pop” Warner, summoned Thorpe.

“Have I done anything wrong?” Thorpe asked.

“Son, you’ve only broken the school record in the high jump. That’s all.”

Carlisle, a hybrid trade school and academy, was devoted to the forcible cultural assimilation of American Indian children. Those who knew Thorpe as a schoolboy received the purest impression of him; before he was a champion at his peak, or a guarded celebrity, he was just a head ducker with an uncertain mouth who would have been happy to hunt and handle horses for the rest of his life. He hated the shut-in strictures of school, and he bolted every formal institution he attended.

Carlisle’s piano teacher, Verna Whistler, described Thorpe as guileless. “He had an open face, an honest look, eyes wide apart, a picture of frankness but not brilliance. He would trust anybody.” Moore was an unconventional young Bryn Mawr graduate when she went to work as a teacher at Carlisle. She taught typing, stenography and bookkeeping, basic courses designed to help students conduct their business in the white man’s world. She recalled Thorpe as “liked by all rather than venerated or idolized….[His] modesty, with top performance, was characteristic of him, and no back talk, I never saw him irascible, sour or primed for vengeance.” Moore noted that Thorpe “wrote a fine, even clerical hand—every character legible; every terminal curving up—consistent and generous.” His appearance on the gridiron, she said, was the “epitome of concentration, wary, with an effect of plenty in reserve.”

With students from 6 to college age, at its height Carlisle had an enrollment of no more than 1,000 pupils, yet on the collegiate playing fields it was the equal of the Ivy League powers, one of the more remarkable stories in American sports. This was partly thanks to Thorpe, who won renown in football, baseball, track and lacrosse, and also competed in hockey, handball, tennis, boxing and ballroom dancing. At track meets, Warner signed him up for six and seven events. Once, Thorpe single-handedly won a dual meet against Lafayette, taking first in the high hurdles, low hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and discus throw.

The result of all this varied activity was that he became highly practiced in two methods modern athletes now recognize as building blocks of performance: imitation and visualization. Thorpe studied other athletes as closely as he had once studied horses, borrowing their techniques. He was “always watching for a new motion which will benefit him,” Warner said.

Until 1912, Thorpe had never thrown a javelin or pole-vaulted. He was so inexperienced in the javelin that when he competed in the Eastern Olympic Trials in New York’s Celtic Park, he didn’t know he could take a running start. Instead he threw from a standing position with “the awkwardness of a novice,” according to a reporter. Nevertheless, he managed second place.

By the time Thorpe embarked for Stockholm aboard the ocean liner Finland with the rest of the U.S. Olympic contingent—among whom numbered a West Pointer named George Patton and a Hawaiian swimmer named Duke Kahanamoku—he was in the peak shape of his life and spent a good deal of his time tapering and visualizing. This led to the legend that he was merely a skylarker. Newspaperman Francis Albertanti of the New York Evening Mail saw Thorpe relaxing on a deck chair. “What are you doing, Jim, thinking of your Uncle Sitting Bull?” he asked.

“No, I’m practicing the long jump,” Thorpe replied. “I’ve just jumped 23 feet eight inches. I think that will win it.”

It’s a favorite game of sportswriters to argue the abstract question of which athletes from different eras would win in head-to-head competition. The numbers Thorpe posted in Stockholm give us a concrete answer: He would.

Thorpe began the Olympics by crushing the field in the now-defunct pentathlon, which consisted of five events in a single day. He placed first in four of them, dusting his competition in the 1,500-meter run by almost five seconds.

A week later the three-day decathlon competition began in a pouring rain. Thorpe opened the event by splashing down the track in the 100-meter dash in 11.2 seconds—a time not equaled at the Olympics until 1948.

On the second day, Thorpe’s shoes were missing. Warner hastily put together a mismatched pair in time for the high jump, which Thorpe won. Later that afternoon came one of his favorite events, the 110-meter hurdles. Thorpe blistered the track in 15.6 seconds, again quicker than Bob Mathias would run it in ’48.

On the final day of competition, Thorpe placed third and fourth in the events in which he was most inexperienced, the pole vault and javelin. Then came the very last event, the 1,500-meter run. The metric mile was a leg-burning monster that came after nine other events over two days. And he was still in mismatched shoes.

Thorpe left cinders in the faces of his competitors. He ran it in 4 minutes 40.1 seconds. Faster than anyone in 1948. Faster than anyone in 1952. Faster than anyone in 1960—when he would have beaten Rafer Johnson by nine seconds. No Olympic decathlete, in fact, could beat Thorpe’s time until 1972. As Neely Tucker of the Washington Post pointed out, even today’s reigning gold medalist in the decathlon, Bryan Clay, would beat Thorpe by only a second.

Thorpe’s overall winning total of 8,412.95 points (of a possible 10,000) was better than the second-place finisher, Swede Hugo Wieslander, by 688. No one would beat his score for another four Olympics.

Mallon, co-founder of the International Society of Olympic Historians, who has served as a consultant statistician to the IOC, believes that Thorpe’s 1912 performances establish him as “the greatest athlete of all time. Still. To me, it’s not even a question.” Mallon points out that Thorpe was number one in four Olympic events in 1912 and placed in the top ten in two more—a feat no modern athlete has accomplished, not even the sprinter and long-jumper Carl Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals between 1984 and 1996. “People just don’t do that,” Mallon says.

The Olympics weren’t the only highlights of 1912 for Thorpe. He returned to lead Carlisle’s football team to a 12-1-1 record, running for 1,869 yards on 191 attempts—more yards in a season than O.J. Simpson would run for USC in 1968. And that total doesn’t include yardage from two games Thorpe played in. It’s possible that, among the things Thorpe did in 1912, he was college football’s first 2,000-yard rusher.

Numbers like those are the ghostly outline of Thorpe’s athleticism; they burn through time and make him vivid. Without them, myth and hyperbole replace genuine awe over his feats, and so does pity at his deterioration from superstar to disgraced hero. The Olympic champion would become a barnstormer—major-league baseball player, co-founder of the National Football League and even pro basketball player—before winding up a stunt performer and Hollywood character actor. In his later life Thorpe struggled to meet financial obligations to his seven children and two ex-wives, especially during the Great Depression. He worked as a security guard, construction worker and ditch digger, among other things. When he contracted lip cancer in 1951 he sought charity treatment from a Philadelphia hospital, which led his opportunistic third wife, Patricia, to claim weepingly at a press conference that they were destitute. “We’re broke. Jim has nothing but his name and his memories. He has spent money on his own people and given it away. He has often been exploited.” Despite Patricia’s claims, however, they weren’t impoverished; Thorpe hustled tirelessly on the lecture circuit, and they lived in a modest but comfortable trailer home in suburban Lomita, California. He died there of heart failure in 1953 at age 64.

The IOC’s decision in 1912 to strip Thorpe’s medals and strike out his records was not just intended to punish him for violating the elitist Victorian codes of amateurism. It was also intended to obscure him—and to a certain extent it succeeded.

Thorpe’s public reserve didn’t help his cause. He refused to campaign for his reputation, or to fight for his Olympic medals. “I won ’em, and I know I won ’em,” he told his daughter Grace Thorpe. On another occasion he said, “I played with the heart of an amateur—for the pure hell of it.”

It’s an astonishing fact that the greatest athlete in American history would not appear on a Wheaties box, the ratification of champions, until 2001, and only after a tireless letter-writing campaign.

Here’s another fact: Thorpe’s Olympic victories still have not been properly reinstated in the official record.

It’s commonly believed that Thorpe at last received Olympic justice in October of 1982 when the IOC bowed to years of public pressure and delivered two replica medals to his family, announcing, “The name of James Thorpe will be added to the list of athletes who were crowned Olympic champions at the 1912 Games.” What’s less commonly known is that the IOC appended this small, mean sentence: “However, the official report for these Games will not be modified.”

In other words, the IOC refused even to acknowledge Thorpe’s results in the 15 events he competed in. To this day the Olympic record does not mention them. The IOC also refused to demote Wieslander and the other runners-up from their elevated medal status. Wieslander’s results stand as the official winning tally. Thorpe was merely a co-champion, with no numerical evidence of his overwhelming superiority. This is no small thing. It made Thorpe an asterisk, not a champion. It was lip service, not restitution.

On this 100-year anniversary of the Stockholm Games, there are several good reasons for the IOC to relent and fully recognize Thorpe as the sole champion that he was. Countless white athletes abused the amateurism rules and played minor-league ball with impunity. What’s more, the IOC did not follow its own rules for disqualification: Any objection to Thorpe’s status should have been raised within 30 days of the Games, and it was not. It was nice of the IOC to award replica medals to Thorpe’s family, but those are just souvenirs. After 100 years of phantom contending, Thorpe should enter the record as the incomparable that he was.

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Washington Post: The Read Damage by Hannah Dreier

Some of the best writing I’ve read about the issue of land rights for poor, mostly Black residents in the US, and how it prevents them from receiving many forms of support and loans — specifically FEMA grants after disasters, as described in this terrific account. Some graphic glitches below.

On-line at < https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/07/11/fema-black-owned-property/ >

National

‘The real damage’

Why FEMA is denying disaster aid to Black families that have lived for generations in the Deep South.

Albert Nixon, 89, displays a photo of his sister Jessie Johnson, now 88, that was salvaged after a tornado destroyed their home in Greensboro, Ala., in March. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

By Hannah Dreier

July 11, 2021|Updated today at 11:34 a.m. EDT

HALE COUNTY, Ala. — Not enough people were signing up for help after a series of tornadoes ripped through rural Alabama, so the government sent Chris Baker to figure out why. He had driven past the spot where a tornado threw a 13-year-old girl high into a tree, past where injured cows had to be shot one by one, and past where a family was crushed to death in their bathtub. And now, as another day began in this patchwork of destruction, he grabbed a stack of fliers with a picture of an outstretched hand and headed to his car to let people know Washington had assistance to offer.

“So we’ll do a convoy?” Baker asked the local official who had offered to show him around, looking down to check that the badge identifying him as a specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency was in place.

He needn’t have bothered. “There goes FEMA,” called a woman on her porch as they drove by. Two burly White men in khaki cargo pants on a hot day — who else would it be? A majority-Black county named for an officer in the Confederate Army, Hale County is a place of little interest to outsiders; an area of dense forests, catfish farms and 15,000 residents, most of whom can trace their ancestry back to enslaved people or plantation owners.

President Biden has instructed FEMA to prioritize getting help to these kinds of “too often overlooked” communities — the places that climate change is already overwhelming with more storms, floods and heat waves. And Baker was eager to do just that. “That’s why we’re knocking on what doors we can,” he said.

Baker was new to the agency, and this was his second deployment to a disaster zone. His supervisors had asked him to spread the word that people who lost homes to the March 25 tornadoes still had time to apply for grants of up to $72,000. But as he canvassed the area, a different message was spreading much faster: That people here were in fact not eligible for anything, because of how they had inherited their land. Because of the way Black people have always inherited land in Hale County.

More than a third of Black-owned land in the South is passed down informally, rather than through deeds and wills, according to land use experts. It’s a custom that dates to the Jim Crow era, when Black people were excluded from the Southern legal system. When land is handed down like this, it becomes heirs’ property, a form of ownership in which families hold property collectively, without clear title.

People believed this protected their land, but the Department of Agriculture has found that heirs’ property is “the leading cause of Black involuntary land loss.” Without formal deeds, families are cut off from federal loans and grants, including from FEMA, which requires that disaster survivors prove they own their property before they can get help rebuilding.

Nationally, FEMA denies requests for help from about 2 percent of applicants for disaster aid because of title issues. In majority-Black counties, the rate is twice as high, according to a Washington Post analysis, in large part because Black people are twice as likely to pass down property informally. But in parts of the Deep South, FEMA has rejected up to a quarter of applicants because they can’t document ownership, according to the Post analysis. In Hale County, FEMA has denied 35 percent of disaster aid applicants for this reason since March.

Not that Baker knew much about that; not yet. His bosses had sent him out from his office in Atlanta with a list of metrics. Eight counties eligible for help. Four weeks until the deadline to apply. Eight hundred applications received so far, of which 100 had been approved. There was nothing on the briefing sheet about heirs’ property. He had visited several areas now, meeting with officials and volunteers. But when he arrived in Hale County, local emergency management director Russell Weeden had suggested a tour to see “the real damage.”

They pulled up a narrow dirt road, then got out and climbed a gravel path to the first stop of the day. The tornado had tossed debris across several acres of scrubby grass. The air was heavy and silent, with few trees left for birds to perch in. Baker passed an embroidered pillow and a sequined high-heel shoe, and then the full wreckage of a three-bedroom home that had stood since a generation after the Civil War came into view.

“Well, this house was certainly blown away,” Weeden said.

“Isn’t that something?” Baker said. He reached for his notebook and went to get a closer look.

***

Albert Nixon looks through the wreckage of his home in Greensboro. He has no clear title to the property, which was passed down to him. No clear title means no federal disaster aid. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

The question of what happens to heirs’ property after a disaster is not unique to rural Alabama. FEMA has been grappling with the issue since at least 2005, when 20,000 heirs’ property owners were denied federal help after Hurricane Katrina, according to a USDA report. It came up again in 2017, when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. That time, FEMA denied more than 80,000 applications because of title problems.

There is no legal basis for requiring disaster survivors to provide incontrovertible proof of homeownership. FEMA created that requirement on its own, to combat scammers who make off with as much as 1 percent of aid each year. In 2018, under pressure to resolve the crisis in Puerto Rico, the agency created a process for people to self-certify homeownership.

But the fix applied only to islands and tribal areas, and it was not extended to the Deep South, where in internal correspondence, FEMA has recognized heirs’ property as “a perennial issue.” A FEMA spokesperson said the agency still requires most disaster survivors to prove ownership because “land ownership is recorded as a standard practice” in all of the continental United States and “self-certification of ownership increases the agency’s vulnerability” to fraud and improper payments.

Black families denied disaster relief

Applicants for FEMA disaster aid in majority-Black counties are twice as likely to be rejected because they cannot prove that they own their home.

“So this was two elderly people, and they were at home,” Weeden explained as Baker peered into the house on the hill. There were just a few walls left, tipping at odd angles. Clocks lay on the ground, all stopped at 4:35, the time the tornado touched down. Weeden said the house belonged to a brother and sister who had lived there nearly 90 years and were found by rescuers sitting dazed on a log. “I don’t know if they’re going to rebuild or what.

Baker thought they sounded like ideal candidates for help. The information they would need was laid out in his flier, but he was starting to understand that there might not be anyone around for him to hand a flier to. “Sometimes you can get messages out on the highway overpasses,” he said — but Hale County didn’t have interstate highways. “It’s hard in a rural spot. You could put it on a cow, maybe,” he said, thenfell silent.

The ground they were standing on, like so much Southern land, had been purchased by a Black family during Reconstruction, a time when a generation of Black workers saved up and bought every plot they could, no matter how barren and unpromising. Within a few decades, a new class of landowners emerged: By 1910, Black people made up 10 percent of the U.S. population but 14 percent of its farmers. In Hale County, more than a quarter of farmland was Black-owned.

It was a short-lived era of prosperity, however, as Black landowners began buckling under what the USDA describes as a “well-documented” system of discrimination, including exclusion from loans and swindles by officials. Bands of poor White farmers threatened to murder Black landowners if they didn’t flee. Historians believe that many lynchings from this time, including hundreds in Alabama, were carried out to take Black property. By the end of the 20th century, the share of Black-owned farmland in Hale County had fallen to just 3 percent, including the plot on the hill, where the only sounds were the wind and a smoke alarm chirping somewhere.

“Sorry to be taking you out to an area where there’s nobody,” Weeden said.

“No, it’s quite all right,” Baker said. They got in their cars and headed to the next site the local official wanted to show Baker, unaware that a neighbor had been watching the whole time. Her name was Bernice Ward, and later that day, she went to see the owners of the house.

“I called y’all about five times and y’all didn’t answer,” Bernice said as she pulled up and saw two frail people sitting outside the suburban home where they were temporarily staying.

“We ain’t been nowhere but here,” said Albert Nixon, who was about to turn 90. “We probably didn’t hear the phone.”

“I was gonna come here and get you and take you to the house to talk to FEMA,” Bernice said.

“They were at my house?” Albert asked, surprised an agency that had twice rejected his applications for assistance would be seeking him out. “Ineligible — Ownership Not Verified,” the rejection letters had said, leaving Albert confused as to what the problem was. “I been living there all my days,” he said.

“I’m tired of being here,” his sister Jessie Johnson, who was 88, joined in.

“We’re a long way from home,” Albert said of the place where he and his sister had spent their childhoods picking cotton and had never left, even after their siblings had moved away or died. For Albert especially, his whole life was tied up in those 40 acres of fertile land and the shotgun shack to which he had added three rooms over the years. He had kept up the peach and pecan trees his father planted, and gotten up early each morning to feed the cows and chickens right up until the day the tornado hit.

It was part of a tornado outbreak that killed seven people, with 150 mph winds. The siblings had sought shelter in Albert’s bedroom, the innermost room of the house and the place where they had been born. As they clung to a four-post bed, the winds lifted off the roof and threw it into the woods, exposing a sky that looked to them like nighttime. The windows shattered, and something gave Albert a black eye. Within seconds, the storm ripped apart every room but the one in which they were sheltering. When it passed, they crawled out through a hole where the chimney had stood.

They had grieved to see their orchards and animals suddenly gone. And they were disoriented by what came next, when they moved to a house in another town that had stood empty since a family tragedy played out there. The siblings spent most of their time in the carport, where Bernice was now trying to help Albert understand the status of his application. She didn’t know the details, so she called their grandniece, who had contacted FEMA’s national helpline on the siblings’ behalf the day before.

“We have to prove that you own the house,” the grandniece explained.

“It ain’t in my name; it’s in my granddaddy’s name,” Albert said. “My daddy and them never did change it over.” Just before he died, Albert’s grandfather had warned the family never to let a White man take their land. Albert believed that by keeping the plot as heir’s property, he had minded his grandfather’s words. “A lot of folks been trying to buy the land. Trying to take it. But they won’t get it as long as I’m living,” he said.

The grandniece suggested that Albert might at least be able to show he paid the property taxes.

“I paid for it, but I told them, ‘Let it stay in my brother’s name,’” Albert said. “And my brother’s dead.”

“Oh well see, I don’t know,” the grandniece said.

“If I wasn’t old, I would’ve cleaned it up myself,” Albert said.

After a while, Bernice got up to leave. “I’ll come see you again in a few days,” she told the siblings.

“We’ll be here,” Albert said.

***

FEMA specialist Chris Baker tours a tornado-hit community in Central Alabama in May to hand out fliers advertising federal disaster assistance. (Hannah Dreier/The Washington Post)

All through the morning and into the afternoon, Baker kept following Weeden down red dirt roads that looked much like they had 50 or 100 years ago, except that with every turn, there was more wreckage.

“At least they had it bolted down,” Baker said as they passed a trailer so obliterated only the tie-down anchors were left. “Didn’t hold up too good, though.” He looked out at a home that had been stripped into planks, where black-eyed Susans were growing from a smashed pink dollhouse. “Tornados always seem to be attracted to the trailers,” he said. They saw a spot where a homeowner had piled the remains of his walls next to a sign saying, “Free bricks.” Not all the homes had been reduced to rubble. Weeden also took him by a five-bedroom house that was still standing but had 10 red, black and blue tarps where the roof had been. “That’s hard,” Baker said.

Stop by stop, Baker’s understanding of the need in Hale County was growing deeper. Five hours into the day, however, not a word had been spoken about titles, wills or heirs’ property. Weeden hadn’t mentioned it, if he was aware of it at all. Baker didn’t know to ask. And the people who might have told him were not around.

And so the men continued on with their mission, even as the owner of the house with the tarps was continuing with his, which was to prove that the home he had built for his wife and sons a quarter-century earlier indeed belonged to him.

What the owner was trying to do specifically was get signatures. That’s what a lawyer told Lonny Wilson, 60, to try to do after he received a denial from FEMA. He needed to get all the heirs to the family land to sign a notarized form attesting that he owned his house. There were 15 of them in all, scattered from Las Vegas to Boston.

With no other option to repair the damage from water seeping through his ceilings, Lonny set out to visit his sister, who lived nearby. Hers should have been the easiest of the signatures to get, but he had given her a form the week before and had heard nothing since.

He walked through a field of broken trees that smelled like sweet pine, worrying about what would happen if someone decided not to sign. So many things could go wrong. There were scams in which developers buy out a single heir and then force an auction of the whole plot, which was how Lonny’s wife lost her land. There were cases in which distant relatives who didn’t even know they had a stake in a property tried to sell it after receiving a call like the one Lonny would be making to his relatives. And there was just the simple fact of what can happen in families. “You never know what a person will hold against you. Sometimes blood is worse than water,” Lonny said.

His sister Evelyn Pickens came to the porch to meet him. “Hi, come on in,” she said. “It’s hot and the mosquitoes are out.”

“Thanks,” Lonny said and walked past her into the living room, where he saw the form sitting on her coffee table, still blank.

“It’s raining every other day in the house. If I keep waiting, I’m going to have to demo it down,” he said. “They’re telling me I need documentation.”

“It’s no problem to sign it. I just wasn’t in a rush,” Evelyn said, and soon was on her way to the county seat of Greensboro, parking next to a statue of a soldier with a Confederate flag, the tallest one on Main Street.

The town notary watched Evelyn sign Lonny’s paper and stamped it with a seal. “I bet you’ve seen a few of these,” Evelyn said. “How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing. I’m not charging to do those,” the notary said. She’d been stamping affidavits all month as families struggled to come up with something to show FEMA before the approaching deadline. “This is about all we can do to help right now.”

Evelyn thanked her. “The truth is we don’t even know if FEMA will accept this,” she said. She slipped the form into her purse and drove back to the house with the mismatched tarps, where Lonny was waiting outside.

One down, he thought when he saw the letter. Fourteen more to go.

***

Behind Lonny Wilson, 60, in Greensboro, is the now-tornado-damaged house he owns as heirs’ property. To potentially qualify for FEMA aid, he set out to collect declarations from 15 relatives. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

This abandoned house in Greensboro is an example of what often follows a denial of aid to owners of properties that have been in Black families for generations without clear title. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Greensboro police officer and storm victim Eric Wiggins passes storm debris near his former home. Lacking a property title, he opted against appealing FEMA’s denial of his aid application. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Baker and Weeden weren’t the only ones touring the back roads that afternoon. So was a police officer named Eric Wiggins, who made his own survey of the disaster zone five days a week.

Wiggins, 47, was one of Greensboro’s six patrol officers. He had moved back after retiring from the Navy and was living on heirs’ property handed down by his great-grandfather. He’d been renovating a trailer that once belonged to his grandmother, adding hardwood floors and new appliances. The family gathered there for holidays, and each summer, his cousins came back from the East Coast so their kids could swim in the creek and relearn how to run barefoot on rough red clay. Eric was planning to put in granite countertops next. But the tornado demolished the trailer, and after FEMA denied his application, Eric had decided not to appeal because he knew he couldn’t produce a deed.

To him, the destroyed houses he passed each day were evidence of government neglect. “Two months, no progress. Is that going well?” Eric asked on one of his rounds. “But this is a segregated town, and the community that got hit was predominantly Black. So there’s no urgency.”

Eric liked to slowly circle the area in his cruiser, stretching each lap out to an hour and a half. He tapped his horn and waved when he spotted children playing or older people on porches. He felt lucky to be able to stay with his mother while he figured out what to do next. Otherwise, he might have ended up like people he knew of who were in far worse shape, such as Joe Lee Webb, sleeping in his truck next to his destroyed family home, or Clarissa Skipper, living with two kids in an old trailer with a fallen tree in the middle of it.

The roads were quiet except for an occasional wild turkey stepping out of the forest. Before long, Eric saw one of the people he most worried about — a man named Ronald Reaves, who had moved to a hotel with his daughter after a tornado smashed their home into a hillside. Eric stopped his cruiser next to a house where Ronald was rebuilding a porch. “How’ve you been?” he called out.

“I’m hoping it gets better,” Ronald said. “I’m thinking maybe we’ll get one of those storage sheds or a camper. I just need a little place for a bed, a place for a bathroom.”

“It ain’t that hard for me because I’m at my mama’s. But I know what it’s like,” Eric said.

“It been real rough, man,” Ronald said. “We can’t get no help. FEMA’s taking too long, you know what I’m saying?”

“I know it. They denied me, too,” Eric said.

“Oh, for real?” Ronald said.

“They denied a lot of people,” Eric said. “They want you to show ownership, and a lot of people are on heirs’ property.”

“This is all heir property, though,” Ronald said. “I don’t understand how they’re doing us like that, to all these folks.”

“Don’t nobody understand,” Eric said, and wished Ronald luck.

“I’m about ready to give it up,” Ronald said, shaking his head.

Turning back toward town, Eric pointed out Briana Bouyer’s place, which was roofless and teetering. She, too, had been denied with a letter that began, “Ineligible — Ownership Not Verified.” Instead of trying to sort out the title, she and her husband got a loan to buy a small house elsewhere.

“I saw that on Facebook, and good for them, but you lose something when you move away from family land,” Eric said.

He looped around and passed a museum marking the place where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once hid from the Ku Klux Klan. On the other side of the street now named for the civil rights leader, the homes were mostly abandoned, the paint peeling, roofs sagging, windows broken. “See what I mean?” Eric said. “Things change if nobody stays.”

Finally, he stopped at a clearing that looked like it had been swept clean except for a red wooden porch. Only the trees, which were full of pink building insulation and twisted metal, gave any indication of the home that had stood there. These were the remains of Eric’s trailer. “It took five minutes and everything was gone,” he said. He hoped eventually to get a bank loan to rebuild. “If I was to leave, this land would grow up and look like a forest,” he said. “There would be no life in it.”

***

Briana Bouyer, seen at her damaged home in Greensboro, which was hit by the tornado in March, was denied FEMA disaster relief because she could not prove she owned her property. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

“So this is pretty much how it looked the day of,” Weeden said when they pulled up to the last stop of the day. There was no house, only a red wooden porch. There was pink insulation and metal in the trees. A cop had lived there, Weeden said. “When we got here, he was at home, but his trailer was no longer at home.”

“At least the porch survived,” Baker said quietly.

In all, he had visited a dozen properties, talked to no owners, and posted one flier. He asked Weeden to keep spreading the word. “It’s horrible when something like this happens,” Baker said, “but we get to come in and help.”

“That’s what I tell them: At least apply. All they can do is say no,” Weeden said.

And that was how Baker’s day in Hale County came to an end.

Two weeks later, he was back at his desk in Atlanta. His team was preparing for what was forecast to be an especially punishing hurricane season, and Baker had a stack of reports to look through. But he was still thinking about the need he had seen in Alabama, and about a conversation he’d had with a state official just before he left. The official explained that many Black families, including his own, shared inherited plots of land and were cut off from federal help as a result.

“That can’t be right,” Baker had said. “We must have something in place for that.” But the official insisted, so on his drive back, Baker called his FEMA supervisor, who told him that this was indeed a problem throughout the South. No clear deeds. No clear wills. No clear property tax records. And that was how Baker finally learned about heirs’ property.

Now he found himself turning to FEMA’s 300-page Individual Assistance handbook to figure out what could be done for the people whose homes he had visited, who already seemed to have vanished from their land.

Flipping through the arcane rules, Baker saw a list of documents the agency will accept as proof of ownership. The first was an original deed. “Well we don’t have that,” he said. The next was an insurance bill. “That’s not going to work,” he said.

He remembered how random and extreme the destruction had been. The sequined high heel. The dollhouse sprouting yellow flowers. He didn’t like to think that he had been advertising help that people had no chance of getting.

Next on the list was a property tax receipt. “But that’s not going to be in their name,” he said. The last option was a formal will. “But they don’t have that, either,” he said.

Then Baker got to a caveat. “FEMA may accept a written statement as a last resort,” he read, relieved to have found a workaround. This was the fix allowing people in Puerto Rico to self-certify ownership. “Oh, but that’s just for the islands,” he said, and sighed.

Baker was proud to work for FEMA. He believed in its mission. But he didn’t understand why the rules would be set up like this. The deadline to apply for help was just days away now. The owners of the houses he had seen would have to appeal to local charities or make whatever arrangements they could on their own. “One case like this is too many, honestly,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the family that we care about, not how the land came down.”

He thought of the elderly siblings who had ridden out the tornado in their home. The way the walls must have shuddered and then been wrenched loose. The daze they must have been in when they crawled out. Baker looked over the list one more time. “It’s too bad. There’s nothing in here,” he said.

Andrew Ba Tran contributed to this report.

Steps to nowhere mark the spot where a house stood in the town of Sawyerville until a tornado tore through Hale County, Ala., in March. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

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WaPo: Climate change could cost condo boards billions. They aren’t ready for it.

Based on my limited two years of experience in the Severn House Condominium, I tend to agree with this analysis.

From the July 4th, Washington Post — < https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/surfside-condo-climate-change-cost/2021/07/01/b6699a98-da76-11eb-9bbb-37c30dcf9363_story.html >

Outlook
Perspective

Climate change could cost condo boards billions. They aren’t ready for it.

The Surfside, Fla., building collapse is just one example of a bigger looming problem

Investigators are trying to figure out why Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., collapsed. Climate change could leave other condo buildings around the country facing expensive repairs and upgrades to avoid disasters. (foot credit:Octavio Jones/For The Washington Post)

The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Fla., is a terrible tragedy. Besides the stories of the victims and their grieving loved ones, early attention has focused on the causes of the collapse, such as how the building was constructed, the effects of saltwater on reinforced concrete and whether the condominium association was properly maintaining the high-rise.

Those are important matters, but the disaster exemplifies a bigger problem, one that will still loom once we have answers about what went wrong in Surfside: The untrained, unpaid and unsupervised volunteer directors of the nation’s more than 350,000 condo and homeowners’ associations, armed with limited financial resources, are expected to deal with the unprecedented infrastructure challenges that climate change poses to their communities. And there is no reason to believe that they are up to that task.

More than 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in property administered by condominium and homeowners’ associations, nonprofits run by volunteers elected by the owners. These directors and officers are responsible for an estimated $7 trillion worth of private property and infrastructure, including high-rise buildings, private streets, parks, pools, sewer and water systems, lakes, garages, and many other building systems and amenities

As condos and HOAs blossomed across the country in the last 50 years, little or no thought was given to the eventual effects of climate change, in terms of location or construction quality. The common-interest housing sector emerged in the 1960s as a way to put more people on less land, increasing developer profits and local property tax revenue. The model spread rapidly, and condos and HOAs are now the default options for new construction in many states, not just across the Sun Belt where they originated but in older metro areas as well.

Many locations are problematic from the outset. Developers often build in places that appeal to buyers but pose environmental challenges — such as on reclaimed wetlands or beaches next to rising seas, as in Surfside. Other developers place subdivisions at the top of artificial slopes that turn into mudslides in hundred-year storms, which now occur more often than they used to. Terrible disasters have struck neighborhoods built in areas that are prone to drought-induced wildfires. Local governments may approve these location decisions because they are great for sales and the property tax base, but they drop environmental issues right in the laps of condo and HOA boards.

Condo and homeowners’ associations were never designed or empowered to handle such conditions. These associations are essentially on their own, with virtually no support from any level of government. Although most of them operate well most of the time, paying for routine maintenance and repair has always been a challenge, long before climate change made things worse. For years, industry insiders have pointed out that although directors and officers are responsible for maintaining the property, most unit owners are notoriously unwilling to see their housing costs go up now to sock away funds for repairs in the future. Why, they ask, should they pay today so someone else can have a new roof long after they’ve moved out? Yet that is precisely what they are expected to do. Somehow, dozens, hundreds or even thousands of owners are supposed to overcome their self-interest and collective-action problems and commit to maintaining their private infrastructure in perpetuity.

Now the maintenance and repair responsibilities that condo boards struggle with every day, with varying degrees of success, are being amplified by the effects of global climate change. It is increasingly clear that owner resources and volunteer expertise are inadequate to meet the challenge of maintaining buildings, preventing and mitigating climate-related damage, and restoring property that is severely harmed or even destroyed.

The Surfside disaster is an instructive example of an association faced with environmental challenges beyond its means. The 12-story condo tower with 136 units was built 40 years ago on reclaimed beachfront wetlands, where the proximity of a rising ocean, saltwater and gradual land subsidence have been constant threats to structural integrity. A few years ago, engineers told the condo board that they had an expensive problem on their hands with deteriorating reinforced concrete. After much internal back-and-forth, the board recently assessed a total repair cost on the owners of $15 million. That averages out to more than $110,000 per unit for this midsize association, an eye-popping figure for any homeowner and one that would undoubtedly put many into foreclosure for failure to pay. Repairs were set to begin soon; residents were initially supposed to decide whether to pay their share of the assessment at once or in monthly installments by this past Thursday.

Some are claiming that the collapse could have been avoided if better maintenance had been done earlier. Maybe. But there are thousands of beachfront condos on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts. We cannot expect all of them to be maintained consistently to industry standards with sea level rise, storm surge, land subsidence and a host of other coastal climate issues in mind. We know there will always be some that risk skipping maintenance, thinking the worst won’t happen there.

Sea level rise is not the only climate-related problem that places owners in harm’s way and that local governments and developers never anticipated. It is clear by now that climate change produces heavy rainfall, including hurricanes and so-called 100-year storms, that can cause major flooding, landslides and other stormwater-related disasters. Condo and homeowners’ associations have been severely affected by such events, and developers have been sued from coast to coast over their failure to anticipate them and build accordingly. Expensive litigation after the fact is no substitute for prevention, but it is unrealistic to expect condominium and homeowner associations to undertake costly anticipatory measures. They have neither the expertise nor the resources to do so. In most cases, they don’t even know where to begin.

Many other communities have been built near places prone to wildfires, which have taken on new ferocity in drought conditions fueled by global warming. The costs of safeguarding neighborhoods against these fires are daunting for owners and associations, and prevention is almost entirely out of their hands. In 2003, wildfires destroyed 331 homes in Scripps Ranch, an upscale San Diego-area neighborhood where developer-created HOA requirements for wooden “shake” shingle roofs accelerated the destruction. The San Diego City Council banned these roofs in new construction, including for people who wanted to rebuild their homes. Yet they faced intense resistance from Scripps Ranch owners over proposed building code changes intended to protect their homes against future wildfires, because implementing those changes would have been expensive. Owners in a fire-prone area might be understandably angry if their association required them to pay for new roofs, elaborate sprinkler systems, doors and windows with heat-resistant double-glazed material, and special fire-retardant house paint. If local governments encounter pushback when they require such measures, it seems unlikely that condo and homeowners’ associations would adopt them voluntarily.

In effect, condo and HOA developments are a huge experiment in privatization of local government functions, and sometimes the offloading of government responsibilities goes too far. We can expect a condo or HOA board to handle garbage collection, get the leaves and snow removed from private streets, and broadly live up to its responsibilities to residents. But when private communities took off in the 1960s, we didn’t even know what climate change was. We cannot realistically expect condo boards to prevent damage from sea level rise, more-frequent severe storms, extreme heat and drought, and other major changes in the environment — especially not in buildings that weren’t built to withstand such conditions. If the proliferation of condos and HOAs is to continue in the time of climate change, federal, state and local governments must play a more supportive, directive and protective role. Otherwise, millions of owners and their volunteer community leaders will be swamped by forces beyond their control.

Image without a caption
By Evan McKenzie
Evan McKenzie teaches in the political science department and the law school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of two books about condominium and homeowner associations.

Letters to the Editor July 5, 2021 at 5:04 p.m. EDT
Opinion: Condo boards: The worst kind of governance

Smoke pours from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South building after it partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla. (Zack Wittman/for The Washington Post)

It behooves every condominium board member across the land to read the July 1 front-page article “Squabbles over repairs had roiled Fla. condo association” and then, after a silent “There but for the grace of God go I,” ask, “What can I learn from this terrible tragedy?”

Condominium association boards probably have the distinction of being the least efficient kind of governance model one can find, their members having to navigate between the Scylla of a volunteer board whose members have only an address in common and a diversity that abstractly resembles the bar scene in Star Wars, and the Charybdis of some managing agents whose definition of proactive is to walk the property once in a while; lawyers who think their clients are the boards and not the associations; the occasional naive renegade who thinks all budgets can be cut; and the inevitable minority of vocal owners who think the board is there to serve their every need while other things get left undone. Is it any wonder the Champlain Towers South board quit en masse?

As I said while presiding over my association’s annual meeting several weeks ago, the ultimate responsibility for the governance of associations is not the board but the association itself. The biggest challenge boards have is to make that happen. If someone buys into a condominium thinking that it is like an apartment or hotel, they, too, might very well one day have a rude awakening. God forbid that it is anything near what happened last month in Florida.

Ed Mulrenin, Washington

COMMENTS ON: Letters to the Editor — July 5, 2021 at 5:04 p.m. EDT
Opinion: Condo boards: The worst kind of governance

First Comment
People like to think that the failure to properly maintain buildings and make necessary safety repairs is only the province of condominiums where many home owners share responsibilities and it is hard to get everyone to agree on a decision. However, the same mindset is often present in owners of single family homes. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are not replaced. Roof tiles are not replaced until their is a major leak. Damages to foundations from earthquakes, hurricanes or just ground subsidence are repaired until a architect investigates the structure before drawing up plans for an addition or major remodeling. Then the home owner becomes angry when they are told that they need to put tens of thousands of dollars into structural upgrades and will not have as much as they hoped for the cosmetic work. People can be very short sighted and they are often disinclined to believe experts when they tell them something that they do not want to hear.

Second Comment
The right wing repubs want to turn America into an authoritarian Theocracy.
What will happen then.? Their storm troopers will be taking you to some evil building, where they eat babies.

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on WaPo: Climate change could cost condo boards billions. They aren’t ready for it.

From the Outlook Section of the Sunday Washington Post

Building 5 residents —

I think we’re lucky at Severn House to have a talented and hard-working Condo Board, but many other associations in the Annapolis area are not so lucky. And we need to keep in mind that older developments require larger investments in major maintenance and renovation projects.

From the July 4th, Washington Post — < https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/surfside-condo-climate-change-cost/2021/07/01/b6699a98-da76-11eb-9bbb-37c30dcf9363_story.html >

OutlookPerspective

Climate change could cost condo boards billions. They aren’t ready for it.

The Surfside, Fla., building collapse is just one example of a bigger looming problem

Investigators are trying to figure out why Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., collapsed. Climate change could leave other condo buildings around the country facing expensive repairs and upgrades to avoid disasters. (Octavio Jones/For The Washington Post)

The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Fla., is a terrible tragedy. Besides the stories of the victims and their grieving loved ones, early attention has focused on the causes of the collapse, such as how the building was constructed, the effects of saltwater on reinforced concrete and whether the condominium association was properly maintaining the high-rise.

Those are important matters, but the disaster exemplifies a bigger problem, one that will still loom once we have answers about what went wrong in Surfside: The untrained, unpaid and unsupervised volunteer directors of the nation’s more than 350,000 condo and homeowners’ associations, armed with limited financial resources, are expected to deal with the unprecedented infrastructure challenges that climate change poses to their communities. And there is no reason to believe that they are up to that task.

More than 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in property administered by condominium and homeowners’ associations, nonprofits run by volunteers elected by the owners. These directors and officers are responsible for an estimated $7 trillion worth of private property and infrastructure, including high-rise buildings, private streets, parks, pools, sewer and water systems, lakes, garages, and many other building systems and amenities

As condos and HOAs blossomed across the country in the last 50 years, little or no thought was given to the eventual effects of climate change, in terms of location or construction quality. The common-interest housing sector emerged in the 1960s as a way to put more people on less land, increasing developer profits and local property tax revenue. The model spread rapidly, and condos and HOAs are now the default options for new construction in many states, not just across the Sun Belt where they originated but in older metro areas as well.

Many locations are problematic from the outset. Developers often build in places that appeal to buyers but pose environmental challenges — such as on reclaimed wetlands or beaches next to rising seas, as in Surfside. Other developers place subdivisions at the top of artificial slopes that turn into mudslides in hundred-year storms, which now occur more often than they used to. Terrible disasters have struck neighborhoods built in areas that are prone to drought-induced wildfires. Local governments may approve these location decisions because they are great for sales and the property tax base, but they drop environmental issues right in the laps of condo and HOA boards.

Condo and homeowners’ associations were never designed or empowered to handle such conditions. These associations are essentially on their own, with virtually no support from any level of government. Although most of them operate well most of the time, paying for routine maintenance and repair has always been a challenge, long before climate change made things worse. For years, industry insiders have pointed out that although directors and officers are responsible for maintaining the property, most unit owners are notoriously unwilling to see their housing costs go up now to sock away funds for repairs in the future. Why, they ask, should they pay today so someone else can have a new roof long after they’ve moved out? Yet that is precisely what they are expected to do. Somehow, dozens, hundreds or even thousands of owners are supposed to overcome their self-interest and collective-action problems and commit to maintaining their private infrastructure in perpetuity.

Climate change made Arizona’s heat wave worse. And it won’t be the last one.

Now the maintenance and repair responsibilities that condo boards struggle with every day, with varying degrees of success, are being amplified by the effects of global climate change. It is increasingly clear that owner resources and volunteer expertise are inadequate to meet the challenge of maintaining buildings, preventing and mitigating climate-related damage, and restoring property that is severely harmed or even destroyed.

The Surfside disaster is an instructive example of an association faced with environmental challenges beyond its means. The 12-story condo tower with 136 units was built 40 years ago on reclaimed beachfront wetlands, where the proximity of a rising ocean, saltwater and gradual land subsidence have been constant threats to structural integrity. A few years ago, engineers told the condo board that they had an expensive problem on their hands with deteriorating reinforced concrete. After much internal back-and-forth, the board recently assessed a total repair cost on the owners of $15 million. That averages out to more than $110,000 per unit for this midsize association, an eye-popping figure for any homeowner and one that would undoubtedly put many into foreclosure for failure to pay. Repairs were set to begin soon; residents were initially supposed to decide whether to pay their share of the assessment at once or in monthly installments by this past Thursday.

Some are claiming that the collapse could have been avoided if better maintenance had been done earlier. Maybe. But there are thousands of beachfront condos on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts. We cannot expect all of them to be maintained consistently to industry standards with sea level rise, storm surge, land subsidence and a host of other coastal climate issues in mind. We know there will always be some that risk skipping maintenance, thinking the worst won’t happen there.

Sea level rise is not the only climate-related problem that places owners in harm’s way and that local governments and developers never anticipated. It is clear by now that climate change produces heavy rainfall, including hurricanes and so-called 100-year storms, that can cause major flooding, landslides and other stormwater-related disasters. Condo and homeowners’ associations have been severely affected by such events, and developers have been sued from coast to coast over their failure to anticipate them and build accordingly. Expensive litigation after the fact is no substitute for prevention, but it is unrealistic to expect condominium and homeowner associations to undertake costly anticipatory measures. They have neither the expertise nor the resources to do so. In most cases, they don’t even know where to begin.

Many other communities have been built near places prone to wildfires, which have taken on new ferocity in drought conditions fueled by global warming. The costs of safeguarding neighborhoods against these fires are daunting for owners and associations, and prevention is almost entirely out of their hands. In 2003, wildfires destroyed 331 homes in Scripps Ranch, an upscale San Diego-area neighborhood where developer-created HOA requirements for wooden “shake” shingle roofs accelerated the destruction. The San Diego City Council banned these roofs in new construction, including for people who wanted to rebuild their homes. Yet they faced intense resistance from Scripps Ranch owners over proposed building code changes intended to protect their homes against future wildfires, because implementing those changes would have been expensive. Owners in a fire-prone area might be understandably angry if their association required them to pay for new roofs, elaborate sprinkler systems, doors and windows with heat-resistant double-glazed material, and special fire-retardant house paint. If local governments encounter pushback when they require such measures, it seems unlikely that condo and homeowners’ associations would adopt them voluntarily.

In effect, condo and HOA developments are a huge experiment in privatization of local government functions, and sometimes the offloading of government responsibilities goes too far. We can expect a condo or HOA board to handle garbage collection, get the leaves and snow removed from private streets, and broadly live up to its responsibilities to residents. But when private communities took off in the 1960s, we didn’t even know what climate change was. We cannot realistically expect condo boards to prevent damage from sea level rise, more-frequent severe storms, extreme heat and drought, and other major changes in the environment — especially not in buildings that weren’t built to withstand such conditions. If the proliferation of condos and HOAs is to continue in the time of climate change, federal, state and local governments must play a more supportive, directive and protective role. Otherwise, millions of owners and their volunteer community leaders will be swamped by forces beyond their control.

Image without a caption

By Evan McKenzie

Evan McKenzie teaches in the political science department and the law school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of two books about condominium and homeowner associations.

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764 Fairview Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
” Blog: PottersWeal.com
See also: Kincey.org

E-mail: <bpotter@irf.org>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on From the Outlook Section of the Sunday Washington Post

The Washington Post Officials worked secretly to clear Bob Baffert’s Justify amid 2018 Triple Crow n run, records show

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on The Washington Post Officials worked secretly to clear Bob Baffert’s Justify amid 2018 Triple Crow n run, records show

ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Dear Huei-Min et al.

Thanks for sharing those and, yes, we were saddened to see the outbreak in Taiwan and hope that you get it back under control. We have had a recent outbreak again in Fiji stemming from poor quarantine management and security in relation to repatriated Fiji citizens from India. Had a four-day lockdown, 4 new cases yesterday, but were allowed out for part of today. Gain, hope we get through this.

Sincerely

Randy

Dr. Randolph R. Thaman
Emeritus Professor of Pacific Islands Biogeography
The University of the South Pacific
Suva, Fiji
thaman_r@usp.ac.fj

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Thank you for sharing, Godfrey and Bruce.

I also share the case of Taiwan:

Taiwan is now under “the first wave” of community outbreak after the weekend of Mother’s Day (May 8-9) .

I happened has a webinar on April 29 that talked about how small islands in Taiwan keep no confirmed case but blooming tourism (with some figures), however it has been rapidly changed in Taiwan in the past weeks. More than 100 increased cases in Taipei and New Taipei city since May 15, while offshore islands fortunately still keep zero case so far. All offshore islands have announced restrictions of tourist from main island Taiwan two days ago. The attached is a brief update numbers, if you are interested.

For your information: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/17/asia/taiwan-covid-outbreak-intl-hnk/index.html

Today: https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202105190001

Hope it could be contained soon (I hope and believe so)

Best wishes to all,

Huei-Min

****

Huei-Min Tsai, Ph.D.

Professor, Graduate Institute of Environmental Education

National Taiwan Normal University

Taipei, Taiwan

Email: hmtsai

Phone: +886-2-77496565 Fax: +886-2-29325570

From: ISISA@groups.io [mailto:ISISA@groups.io] On Behalf Of Godfrey Baldacchino
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 2:20 PM
To: ISISA@groups.io
Cc: Iain Orr; PottersWeal.com; Chile8
Subject: Re: [ISISA] Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Thank you for sharing Bruce.

Malta also has a very high rate of vaccination; meanwhile, reported daily infection rates have gone down into the single digits. (A far cry from the record 510 cases of Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours on March 10.)

Tourism is picking up and restaurants will be able to serve dinner soon; though bars remain closed so far; and no mass gatherings are permitted.

Godfrey

On Mon, 17 May 2021 at 21:26, Bruce Potter <bpotter> wrote:

This effect (runaway COVID-19 infections) has also been seen in the tabulations of coronavirus infections among many global islands in addition to the Seychelles, that Iain Orr has been tabulating every few days since March 21, 2020, and which Godfrey Baldacchinno has been posting and updating on the ISISA.ORG website.

Bruce

Begin forwarded message:

From: The Washington Post <email>

Subject: Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Date: May 10, 2021 at 12:00:06 AM EDT

To: bpotter

The Washington Post
Today's WorldView
Adam Taylor By Adam Taylor
with Claire Parker
f64e26ef3b53afcd222ecc49f65aa958-envelope_byline-40-32-70-8.png Email

A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks.

It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates.

The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination. But that success was undermined last week as the Seychelles found itself with the world’s largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita and was forced to reinstate some restrictions.

imp?s=220945&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220948&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627513&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Though the number of new cases is relatively low — peaking at an average of just under 150 new cases a day — they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in the Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. “These are an upward trend,” said Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a media briefing last week. “We do not know how long it will last, but this will depend on what measures are taken and how the new measures are respected.”

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

The Seychelles situation is being watched all over the world. “It is providing a critical case to consider the effectiveness of some vaccines and what range we have to reach to meet herd immunity,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Huang noted that other nations that had vaccinated large proportions of their populations, including Israel and Britain, had seen significant drops in new daily cases. Sherin Francis, chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said that while much of the population was vaccinated, there were pockets that were not.

imp?s=220950&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220953&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627512&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Government data released lastweek found that of 1,068 active cases, around 65 percent involved residents who were either completely unvaccinated or had received only one dose. Francis emphasized that even people who have been vaccinated can get infected. “Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death; they are less good at preventing infection,” Francis said.

So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low — 28 out of more than 6,000 cases, as of last week. Most of those infected have only mild symptoms, Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Sylvestre Radegonde told the Seychelles News Agency over the weekend.But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness.

Roughly 60 percent of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization recently estimated the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78 percent for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so.

Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79 percent effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95 percent.

Jennifer Huang Bouey, an epidemiologist who works with the Rand Corp., estimated that given what was known about the Seychelles’ vaccine rollout and the vaccines used, less than 49 percent of the population could be assumed to have immunity conferred by vaccines. “It is still far below the community-level protection requirement,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that they are not seeing a significant decline in cases,” CFR’s Huang said. “But what is surprising to me is that they’ve seen a significant increase in cases since late April.”

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

That rise in cases arrived after something else: the return of tourists to the Seychelles. But so far, the evidence linking the two is unclear.

After almost a year of strict border controls, the Seychelles announced early this year that it was opening back up to tourists beginning March 25. The government said there would be no quarantine requirements and that visitors would not need to be vaccinated, though they would need to show negative PCR tests taken less than 72 hours before travel. It was an important move for the Seychelles, which relies on tourism for about a quarter of its economy. Economic output declined by 13.5 percent in 2020, largely because of steep drops in tourism revenue, according to the World Bank.

While the number of new daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled since tourism restrictions were removed, only 10 percent of positive cases are among visitors to the island, according to Francis. Even so, the rise in new cases threatens to upend the country’s reopening to tourism. In one recent dispute, vaccinated Israeli travelers publicly complained of “false positive” coronavirus tests that disrupted their stay. The Seychelles Tourism Board refuted that claim on Friday.

“While applying restrictions, care has been taken to ensure that the visitor experience is not affected and that our visitors are still able to enjoy an uninterrupted holiday in Seychelles,” said Francis, adding that the country was able to guarantee PCR tests with results within 24 hours.

Huang Bouey said that while vaccines can help prevent deaths, there was increasing agreement among medical professionals that they alone could not stop new cases or outbreaks. “Quarantine, mask-wearing and crowd-avoiding should be part of the public health strategy,” she said.

Senaratne said it was possible that the Seychelles’ ongoing outbreak could drive away tourists and that the government was undertaking a “delicate balancing act between health and wealth management.”

“Covid-19 has starkly outlined the vulnerabilities of an island nation that remains highly dependent on tourism,” she said, adding that the country would need to diversify its economy. “While we hope the spread of the virus will be curbed in the short term, we cannot help but look uneasily towards the future.”

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764C Fairview Avenue
Severn House Condominium
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
" Blog: PottersWeal.com
See also: Kincey.org

E-mail: <bpotter>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Covid-19 & Islands (Tsai)-19 May 2021 Taiwan (1).pdf

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Thank you for sharing Bruce.

Malta also has a very high rate of vaccination; meanwhile, reported daily infection rates have gone down into the single digits. (A far cry from the record 510 cases of Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours on March 10.)

Tourism is picking up and restaurants will be able to serve dinner soon; though bars remain closed so far; and no mass gatherings are permitted.

Godfrey

On Mon, 17 May 2021 at 21:26, Bruce Potter <bpotter> wrote:

This effect (runaway COVID-19 infections) has also been seen in the tabulations of coronavirus infections among many global islands in addition to the Seychelles, that Iain Orr has been tabulating every few days since March 21, 2020, and which Godfrey Baldacchinno has been posting and updating on the ISISA.ORG website.

Bruce

Begin forwarded message:

From: The Washington Post <email>

Subject: Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Date: May 10, 2021 at 12:00:06 AM EDT

To: bpotter

The Washington Post
Today's WorldView
Adam Taylor By Adam Taylor
with Claire Parker
f64e26ef3b53afcd222ecc49f65aa958-envelope_byline-40-32-70-8.png Email

A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks.

It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates.

The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination. But that success was undermined last week as the Seychelles found itself with the world’s largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita and was forced to reinstate some restrictions.

imp?s=220945&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220948&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627513&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Though the number of new cases is relatively low — peaking at an average of just under 150 new cases a day — they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in the Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. “These are an upward trend,” said Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a media briefing last week. “We do not know how long it will last, but this will depend on what measures are taken and how the new measures are respected.”

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

The Seychelles situation is being watched all over the world. “It is providing a critical case to consider the effectiveness of some vaccines and what range we have to reach to meet herd immunity,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Huang noted that other nations that had vaccinated large proportions of their populations, including Israel and Britain, had seen significant drops in new daily cases. Sherin Francis, chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said that while much of the population was vaccinated, there were pockets that were not.

imp?s=220950&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220953&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627512&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Government data released lastweek found that of 1,068 active cases, around 65 percent involved residents who were either completely unvaccinated or had received only one dose. Francis emphasized that even people who have been vaccinated can get infected. “Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death; they are less good at preventing infection,” Francis said.

So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low — 28 out of more than 6,000 cases, as of last week. Most of those infected have only mild symptoms, Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Sylvestre Radegonde told the Seychelles News Agency over the weekend.But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness.

Roughly 60 percent of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization recently estimated the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78 percent for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so.

Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79 percent effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95 percent.

Jennifer Huang Bouey, an epidemiologist who works with the Rand Corp., estimated that given what was known about the Seychelles’ vaccine rollout and the vaccines used, less than 49 percent of the population could be assumed to have immunity conferred by vaccines. “It is still far below the community-level protection requirement,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that they are not seeing a significant decline in cases,” CFR’s Huang said. “But what is surprising to me is that they’ve seen a significant increase in cases since late April.”

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

That rise in cases arrived after something else: the return of tourists to the Seychelles. But so far, the evidence linking the two is unclear.

After almost a year of strict border controls, the Seychelles announced early this year that it was opening back up to tourists beginning March 25. The government said there would be no quarantine requirements and that visitors would not need to be vaccinated, though they would need to show negative PCR tests taken less than 72 hours before travel. It was an important move for the Seychelles, which relies on tourism for about a quarter of its economy. Economic output declined by 13.5 percent in 2020, largely because of steep drops in tourism revenue, according to the World Bank.

While the number of new daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled since tourism restrictions were removed, only 10 percent of positive cases are among visitors to the island, according to Francis. Even so, the rise in new cases threatens to upend the country’s reopening to tourism. In one recent dispute, vaccinated Israeli travelers publicly complained of “false positive” coronavirus tests that disrupted their stay. The Seychelles Tourism Board refuted that claim on Friday.

“While applying restrictions, care has been taken to ensure that the visitor experience is not affected and that our visitors are still able to enjoy an uninterrupted holiday in Seychelles,” said Francis, adding that the country was able to guarantee PCR tests with results within 24 hours.

Huang Bouey said that while vaccines can help prevent deaths, there was increasing agreement among medical professionals that they alone could not stop new cases or outbreaks. “Quarantine, mask-wearing and crowd-avoiding should be part of the public health strategy,” she said.

Senaratne said it was possible that the Seychelles’ ongoing outbreak could drive away tourists and that the government was undertaking a “delicate balancing act between health and wealth management.”

“Covid-19 has starkly outlined the vulnerabilities of an island nation that remains highly dependent on tourism,” she said, adding that the country would need to diversify its economy. “While we hope the spread of the virus will be curbed in the short term, we cannot help but look uneasily towards the future.”

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764C Fairview Avenue
Severn House Condominium
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
" Blog: PottersWeal.com
See also: Kincey.org

E-mail: <bpotter>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

_._,_._,_

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

This effect (runaway COVID-19 infections) has also been seen in the tabulations of coronavirus infections among many global islands in addition to the Seychelles, that Iain Orr has been tabulating every few days since March 21, 2020, and which Godfrey Baldacchinno has been posting and updating on the ISISA.ORG website.

Bruce

Begin forwarded message:

From: The Washington Post <email>

Subject: Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Date: May 10, 2021 at 12:00:06 AM EDT

To: bpotter

The Washington Post
Today's WorldView
Adam Taylor By Adam Taylor
with Claire Parker
f64e26ef3b53afcd222ecc49f65aa958-envelope_byline-40-32-70-8.png Email

A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks.

It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates.

The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination. But that success was undermined last week as the Seychelles found itself with the world’s largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita and was forced to reinstate some restrictions.

imp?s=220945&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220948&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627513&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Though the number of new cases is relatively low — peaking at an average of just under 150 new cases a day — they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in the Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. “These are an upward trend,” said Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a media briefing last week. “We do not know how long it will last, but this will depend on what measures are taken and how the new measures are respected.”

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

The Seychelles situation is being watched all over the world. “It is providing a critical case to consider the effectiveness of some vaccines and what range we have to reach to meet herd immunity,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Huang noted that other nations that had vaccinated large proportions of their populations, including Israel and Britain, had seen significant drops in new daily cases. Sherin Francis, chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said that while much of the population was vaccinated, there were pockets that were not.

imp?s=220950&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220953&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627512&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Government data released lastweek found that of 1,068 active cases, around 65 percent involved residents who were either completely unvaccinated or had received only one dose. Francis emphasized that even people who have been vaccinated can get infected. “Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death; they are less good at preventing infection,” Francis said.

So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low — 28 out of more than 6,000 cases, as of last week. Most of those infected have only mild symptoms, Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Sylvestre Radegonde told the Seychelles News Agency over the weekend.But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness.

Roughly 60 percent of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization recently estimated the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78 percent for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so.

Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79 percent effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95 percent.

Jennifer Huang Bouey, an epidemiologist who works with the Rand Corp., estimated that given what was known about the Seychelles’ vaccine rollout and the vaccines used, less than 49 percent of the population could be assumed to have immunity conferred by vaccines. “It is still far below the community-level protection requirement,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that they are not seeing a significant decline in cases,” CFR’s Huang said. “But what is surprising to me is that they’ve seen a significant increase in cases since late April.”

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

That rise in cases arrived after something else: the return of tourists to the Seychelles. But so far, the evidence linking the two is unclear.

After almost a year of strict border controls, the Seychelles announced early this year that it was opening back up to tourists beginning March 25. The government said there would be no quarantine requirements and that visitors would not need to be vaccinated, though they would need to show negative PCR tests taken less than 72 hours before travel. It was an important move for the Seychelles, which relies on tourism for about a quarter of its economy. Economic output declined by 13.5 percent in 2020, largely because of steep drops in tourism revenue, according to the World Bank.

While the number of new daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled since tourism restrictions were removed, only 10 percent of positive cases are among visitors to the island, according to Francis. Even so, the rise in new cases threatens to upend the country’s reopening to tourism. In one recent dispute, vaccinated Israeli travelers publicly complained of “false positive” coronavirus tests that disrupted their stay. The Seychelles Tourism Board refuted that claim on Friday.

“While applying restrictions, care has been taken to ensure that the visitor experience is not affected and that our visitors are still able to enjoy an uninterrupted holiday in Seychelles,” said Francis, adding that the country was able to guarantee PCR tests with results within 24 hours.

Huang Bouey said that while vaccines can help prevent deaths, there was increasing agreement among medical professionals that they alone could not stop new cases or outbreaks. “Quarantine, mask-wearing and crowd-avoiding should be part of the public health strategy,” she said.

Senaratne said it was possible that the Seychelles’ ongoing outbreak could drive away tourists and that the government was undertaking a “delicate balancing act between health and wealth management.”

“Covid-19 has starkly outlined the vulnerabilities of an island nation that remains highly dependent on tourism,” she said, adding that the country would need to diversify its economy. “While we hope the spread of the virus will be curbed in the short term, we cannot help but look uneasily towards the future.”

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764C Fairview Avenue
Severn House Condominium
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
” Blog: PottersWeal.com
See also: Kincey.org

E-mail: <bpotter@irf.org>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

IRF-News Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February

Let’s hope it’s shut down for good. ☹

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: Bruce Potter
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2021 8:33 AM
To: Friends of the Sunsetted IRF
Cc: Potters Weal Blog; <a href="mailto:CaribEnvMgmt
Subject: [IRF-News] Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February

From Juliet Eilperin of the Washington PostL <https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/05/12/limetree-bay-refinery/ >

Who knew that the Hess Oil Virgin Island Refinery would be the “good old days??"

Climate and Environment

St. Croix refinery halts operations after raining oil on local residents once again

Limetree Bay, which received a key permit under Donald Trump, has had several accidents since starting operations on Feb. 1

The Limetree Bay refinery in St. Croix is under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency because of a Feb. 4 flare that spewed oil droplets over nearby homes, contaminating at least 63 cisterns with petroleum. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

By

Juliet Eilperin

May 13, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. EDT

A troubled refinery in St. Croix announced Wednesday evening that it would temporarily halt operations after raining oil on local residents for the second time in just over three months.

Limetree Bay Refining, which showered a fine mist of oil over houses more than two miles away just three days after restarting operations on Feb. 1, spewed oil and sulfur dioxide into the air Wednesday afternoon. The accident triggered an alert from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, which warned residents about a “gaseous odor” and urged those with respiratory illnesses to stay inside.

The company acknowledged in a statement that Wednesday’s “incident resulted in a release of oil droplets which traveled directly west,” affecting the neighborhood of Enfield Green, an affluent, gated community, “as well as some industrial sites.”

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“In response to today’s incident, Limetree Bay has decided to temporarily suspend production activities until further notice,” it added.

The island where it showered oil

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan tweeted Wednesday night, “The repeated incidents at the refinery are unacceptable. EPA has a team on St. Croix and is committed to taking all necessary action to ensure people’s health and safety is protected.”

The plant, which received approval to operate under the Trump administration, has come under close scrutiny since President Biden came into office. In March, the EPA revoked one of the permits the last administration granted the refinery just before Trump stepped down, and it is now investigating whether it poses “an imminent risk to people’s health.”

The refinery has experienced multiple accidents over the past three months that have sickened local residents and forced schools, as well as local government offices, to close. The fire occurred at the same unit that caused the Feb. 4 accident, which contaminated dozens of open cisterns — from which many residents get water they use to drink, cook and bathe — and coated more than 200 cars as well as rooftops and gardens.

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Although the refinery ranks as one of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ largest private employers and sources of tax revenue, many on St. Croix have begun to question its impact on their health.

The company warned residents in the affected community Wednesday “to disconnect downspouts to cisterns if accessible” and not drink the water. It promised to deliver bottled water to those homes.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) called the latest incident “totally unacceptable” in a statement, but expressed hope that the plant will reopen after making improvements.

“Lieutenant Governor Roach and I both have been in contact with the executive team at Limetree Bay and have expressed our concern and frustration with the recent releases that have threatened the health and safety of the residents downwind of the refinery and urged Limetree to step up its efforts to guarantee the safety of its employees and the residents downwind from the refinery," Bryan said. "It is my sincere hope that they can rectify whatever the issues are and resume operations in a manner that protects the health and well-being of its employees and the residents of our community.”

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Jennifer Valiulis, who directs the St. Croix Environmental Association, said in an email that the time had come for officials to take stronger action against the plant.

“Lately we are seeing incidents happening nearly daily with this refinery: Fires, flares, spills, noxious emissions, oil raining down into neighborhoods,” she said. “Each one of these events has impacted our community and disastrous ways — severe illness, loss of food, loss of drinking water. At some point, we need to say that enough is enough and demand accountability from Limetree.”

_._,_._,_

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Posted in Fun | Comments Off on IRF-News Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February