From:

North of Jewfish Creek

 

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

It seems to me it would be almost sacrilegious to write about anything in this issue other than the massive misery and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

I'll begin by describing my own personal experience with this storm.

As far as I can remember, Hurricane Katrina wasn't even mentioned on the news until Tuesday or Wednesday of last week. At that time, it was described as "something we didn't have to worry much about." The weather forecasters said it might hit southeastern Florida but, it would probably hit as a tropical storm or a very weak Category 1 hurricane. For those of you who don't live in "hurricane country", to qualify as a Category 1 hurricane, it has to have sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour.

On Thursday, I was scheduled to fly out of Miami to Baltimore to speak at the Agora Internet Marketing Seminar. (Which, by the way, was an excellent seminar.) My plane was scheduled to leave mid-afternoon. But I was afraid it wouldn't take off before the winds got so strong from the "outskirts" of Hurricane Katrina, all the flights from Miami International Airport would be delayed or outright canceled.

I considered myself very fortunate as I was able to board the plane. Once on it, I strapped myself in and we rolled out onto the runway. And there we sat. And sat. And sat. Our plane remained on the tarmac for two hours. Was it because Hurricane Katrina's winds were holding us back? No. We sat on that tarmac for two hours... because...

We Had A Malfunctioning

Toilet In The Back Of The Plane!

All the while, I kept thinking, "Come on, let's get this baby in the air. If we don't leave fairly soon, they're going to shut down the airport and I won't be able to make the trip. We can do without a toilet for a couple hours."

Finally, the restroom problem was fixed by a maintenance crew and we got off the ground and headed toward Baltimore.

The flight was nice. I met an interesting woman from Columbia who was starting a business of importing mahogany caskets. She and I laughed and joked and discussed marketing while waiting on the tarmac and during the entire flight.

When I arrived in Baltimore, the people were courteous, the city was clean and charming, the hotel was first class. The people I met, especially those from Agora, could not have been more accommodating and friendly.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (meaning Miami), the "nothing to worry about" hurricane did come ashore. It came in about 25 miles north of where I live in Miami. And then, the hurricane lived up to the name given it by the mayor of New Orleans (he called it the "x-factor hurricane"). Hurricane Katrina  made almost a 90 degree left turn and headed dead south for Miami. The weather stations clocked gusts of winds of 95 miles per hour about 2 miles south of where I live. Then Katrina made a right turn and headed in a westerly direction into the Gulf of Mexico.

Then, in almost no time whatsoever, Katrina morphed into the biggest Category 5 hurricane (meaning sustained winds topped 155 miles per hour) in recorded history. I don't think I need to describe to you what has happened since. It is the biggest natural catastrophe in United States history and it virtually dominates the news.

I'll talk about the problems being experienced by the people in the hardest hit Gulf states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama) in a moment. But first, I'd like to tell you a little bit about what this "nothing to worry about" hurricane did to Miami.

As of yesterday, there were still 70,000 people living here without electrical power. The estimated hurricane damage to the Miami area is 100 million dollars. And we are the people who got off "easy".

Just as a personal note, I didn't fly back from Baltimore until Monday and Miami was, I would guess 85% back to normal then.

Anyway, some of my well meaning, good hearted friends in marketing are organizing various hurricane relief efforts. I, myself, am not. At least, not yet.

Back when Hurricane Andrew demolished the southern tip of Florida in August, 1992, the devastation was unbelievable. Homestead and Florida City (hardest hit areas just south of Miami) were completed ravaged by Andrew. Hurricane Andrew virtually flattened that region. A couple of days after Andrew went through, I hired a pilot in a single engine airplane to fly me over these areas. I hung out of the airplane with a friend hanging onto my legs so I wouldn't fall to earth, and I took hundreds of photos with my trusty Leica M6 camera.

Those photos were used by the government to help document the extent of the hurricane damage. They were also shown on television while I was being interviewed describing the damage. The most dramatic of the photos appeared in the newspaper, "The Key West Citizen" and they eventually hung for weeks in a Key West art gallery.

But the most important thing those photographs helped me to do was...  raise money for Hurricane Andrew Relief.

What I did was, I held a hurricane relief seminar in Key West, Florida at the Holiday Inn. I didn't charge one single penny for the attendees to come. All I asked is that each of them make a donation to the Red Cross to be used to help the victims of Hurricane Andrew.

I also said no one could make a donation until the end of the seminar. The reason I did that was I wanted to put on the best seminar humanly possible... so that... people would be encouraged to donate in a very generous manner.

I also had the most dramatic of my hurricane destruction photographs enlarged to poster size and displayed them all around the seminar room.

After looking at those blown-up pictures of the obliterated areas, and listening to me and my other speakers teach them all about marketing for days on end, my attendees donated so much money to the Red Cross for Hurricane Andrew Relief... that when the Red Cross lady was given the total check...

She Actually Burst Into Tears!

I was told I had raised more money for the victims of Hurricane Andrew than any other individual. That was not true. It was me and hundreds of my loyal readers who raised that money. I certainly in no way did it alone. I was only the spark that ignited a firestorm of generosity.

However, I'm not sure I would do it exactly the same way again. I've heard some things about the Red Cross which makes me think twice about that organization. I've heard from veterans of World War II who said the Red Cross would come close to the front lines where our boys were fighting with hot coffee and donuts... and then... charge them for this "service". I don't know if this is true but, I've heard numerous stories like this from a number of different people.

And then after the terrorist planes hit on September 11, millions, tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars were donated to the Red Cross for the express purpose of helping the 9/11 victims. Unfortunately, a large portion of that money was NOT given to the victims of 9/11.

The Red Cross then explained when money is donated to them, they put it all into a big pot and distribute it to people who need it, as the Red Cross sees fit. That's sure not how the generous people who donated money to the Red Cross specifically for the victims of 9/11 intended it to be used.

Also, there has been somewhat of a scandal a few years back about the executives of the Red Cross siphoning off a good deal of the money donated to that organization. The funds were not used for humanitarian purposes... but rather... put into these executives' own pockets.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to paint the Red Cross with a black brush. It's just I am now skeptical about how they use the money they get from all generous citizens who want to help their far-away neighbors experiencing unexpected suffering. Like with Hurricane Andrew. And now Hurricane Katrina.

Actually, I'd like to hear from some of my readers. If any of you have stories about the Red Cross... either negative or positive... I'd love to read those stories. Write me at kevin@thegaryhalbertletter.com .

Now, let's move forward to the hurricanes which hit Florida last year. In case you don't live in Florida, I'll remind you we had four major hurricanes hit this state in just six weeks. (Charley, Dennis, Ivan and Jeanne.) The damage was astounding. Something like 3 out of 5 homes in Florida suffered damage or complete destruction from those hurricanes.

At that time, I tried to help by giving a very informative telemarketing conference which people could listen to for free. All I asked in return was they donate to the victims of the destructive hurricanes. Back then, we didn't ask the donations be made to the Red Cross. That's because my assistant, Theresa, did her own investigation to find out where donations should be sent...

So All The Money Would Actually

Be Delivered Directly To The Victims

Of Those Hurricanes!

 She found the best organization to distribute the money was the Rotary Club in Punta Gorda (near Ft. Myers, Florida where Hurricane Charley hit). I don't know how much money we raised by our efforts (since the donations went straight to the Rotary Club). I hope it was considerable and I'm sure every penny helped.

Now, let's talk about FEMA. FEMA is the United States' governmental organization which dispenses money to victims of natural disasters.

Last year, during those four major hurricanes, the places that got the most money... and... got it almost immediately... were the cities of Miami (Dade County) and Ft. Lauderdale (Broward County). That's kind of curious. These are the two counties who suffered the least hurricane damage in nearly all of Florida. The truth is, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale completely lucked out... but... a number of slick, savvy, sleazy people filed fraudulent claims and got paid enormous amounts of money by FEMA.

What about the people who got crushed by Charley, Dennis, Ivan and Jeanne? The folks in Punta Gorda? Orlando? Pensacola? The cities which were almost leveled? Many of these individuals have not yet collected any relief money whatsoever from FEMA. Many of them are still homeless, broke, and have received no aid whatsoever.

Let's shuck right down to the cob: If there were a contest for the two most corrupt cities in the United States, New Orleans and Miami would be duking it out for top position. The governments of both Miami and New Orleans are both so incredibly corrupt, if it weren't so tragic, it would be laughable. But, as corrupt as the governments of those cities are, there are hundreds of thousands of other people who live in those areas who are honest, decent, God-fearing people, who do their best to do whatever they can to make the world a better place.

So, how do we help the people of New Orleans, Biloxi, and Gulfport? Do we send a check to the Red Cross and allow them to spend it any way they choose? 

Even if any governmental agency did want to send a check to the afflicted people, it was pointed out on the news this morning, there are no banks within a number of miles where they could cash those checks. There are no ATM machines. There are no supermarkets. There are no check cashing type  businesses.

Even if those people could get a check... and even if they could cash those checks... there's not even any place to spend the money. No Wal-Mart's, no K-Mart's, no Home Depot's, no Lowe's, no Publix's, no Winn Dixie's, no Chevron's, no Amoco's, and by the most recent estimate of the mayor of New Orleans...

There Will Not Be Enough Electricity

To Illuminate A Single Light Bulb

In That City For At Least

12 To 16 Weeks!

What should we do? How can we help these people? The truth is, I don't know.

At least I don't know yet.

If any of you have any ideas about this, I'd like to hear them. I personally feel the pain of the people who are suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I, too, would like to help to the best of my ability. But right now, I just don't know how.

I'm thinking I might hold a gigantic free seminar. I'd ask each of the attendees to make a generous donation to help the victims of this terrible disaster. But the truth is, I don't know who or what organization the donations should be made to.

This disaster is a real bitch. It's the worst in the entire history of our country. People are already playing the "blame game". They're blaming the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, the U.S. army, the U.S. government, the engineers who built the levees, and on and on and on. But the truth is, it's pretty difficult to anticipate and prepare for a disastrous event of this magnitude which has caused problems never faced in our history.

To sum it all up, I'd like to help but I don't know how. If any of you have any ideas, please share them with me via email at kevin@thegaryhalbertletter.com.

In the meantime, I think the best thing we can do right now is simply... pray for these people.

 

  Sincerely,
 
 

Gary C. Halbert

 

 

P.S.  By the way, the hurricane season is only HALF over. And this month (September) is normally the worst month of the entire season. By far. And the weather conditions which caused Hurricane Katrina are still present. Matter of fact, I understand those conditions are getting worse.

 

 

But you know what? The American people... not the American government... but the American people are perhaps the most generous, giving, creative and inventive people on earth. We WILL work this out. We WILL find a way to help the victims of this (and other) disasters.

 

 

We ARE going to fix this situation. I don't know how we're going to do it... yet. But I have complete confidence that working together we're going to discover a way to fix it.

 

 

We always do.

 

 

Peace.

 

Click Here If You Want
To Be On My Newsletter
Announcement List

Copyright 2005 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.