[StBernard] White House admits slow Katrina housing plan

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Aug 23 22:44:14 EDT 2006

Read the end of this email. Amazing. People are going to feel a hell of a
lot better knowing the water in their den came from water that topped the
levee. It the water that actually goes through the hole in the levee that
really pisses people off. Are these people idiots?


-----Original Message-----
White House admits slow Katrina housing plan
Delayed rebuilding project slowed payments to many hurricane victims
The Associated Press

Updated: 7:45 p.m. CT Aug 22, 2006
WASHINGTON - State officials in Louisiana are still struggling to ensure
that money to rebuild houses hit by Hurricane Katrina is fairly distributed,
the Bush administration's Gulf Coast coordinator said Tuesday.

Nearly a year after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, only $44 billion
has been spent to get the battered region back on its feet, coordinator Don
Powell said. Over $110 billion has been designated for the massive
rebuilding project - $17 billion of which is to help rebuild an estimated
204,000 homes in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Money has begun to reach Mississippi homeowners, Powell said. But in
Louisiana, state plans for distributing the dollars were delayed, in turn
holding up the funding flow.

"There is always a balance and tension between getting the money out fast
and getting the money out responsibly fast," Powell told reporters at a
White House briefing.

"I have a sense of frustration, I have a sense of urgency all the time,"
said Powell, who stopped short of criticizing Louisiana's delay in
distributing the funds. "That money needs to get out because you'll see a
lot of activity. But it doesn't serve anyone for them to be sloppy and
haphazard in the administration of those moneys."

On Monday, President Bush noted that "the thing that's most important is for
the government to, you know, eliminate any bureaucratic obstacles, when we
find something that's not moving quick enough."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved in one day
Mississippi's plans for rebuilding housing, and gave the nod to Louisiana's
blueprint in 10 days, Powell said. Louisiana officials "didn't get their
plan into HUD until later, after Mississippi, thus the plan was not approved
until later," he said.

Accentuating the positive
Powell, flanked by the directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sought to spotlight successes in the
Gulf Coast as the Aug. 29 anniversary of Katrina nears.

An estimated 100 million cubic yards of debris has been removed from the
region so far - more than all the combined wreckage caused by Hurricane
Andrew in 1992 and from the World Trade Center in 2001, which took two years
to clean up, Powell said. The port of New Orleans "is back," he said, with
incoming tonnage equaling levels from before Katrina hit.

FEMA director R. David Paulison spoke bluntly about his agency's failures
last year to track supplies, register storm victims for benefits and help
emergency responders communicate with each other. "We need to make sure that
we are going to be ready to respond to this next storm and not waste those
opportunities, not waste those lessons learned," he said.

Water over the top
Earlier Tuesday, the Corps' chief engineer, Don Basham, said New
Orleans-area levees might be overtopped by up to four feet of water in a
future hurricane of Katrina's size.

"Even if you had another Katrina event today, we do not believe we'd have
any levees fail, as far as collapsing," Basham said. "But you're definitely
still going to have water that's going over the top of the levees. And
people are going to be inundated and need to evacuate, get out of the area."

A Corps investigation of the city's levees after Katrina revealed that
levees were breached - meaning that they collapsed, causing the water to
flow from behind them much faster - in only four spots along 160 miles of
floodwalls that were damaged during the storm. The walls were overtopped in
46 places, Basham said.

C 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
URL: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14472696/

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