[StBernard] Rising to the Challenge of our Reality

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Jun 25 20:26:47 EDT 2007

Rising to the Challenge of our Reality
A column by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

In all my dealings with the 110th Congress, it is clear to me the new leadership is committed to Gulf Coast Recovery. In only four short months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and their teams delivered on my federal recovery agenda, providing critical relief to our communities struggling to recover from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

This week I visited them once again, and it is because of that swift action that I am amazed our Congressional leaders are willing to help yet again. At the time of my February visit, the Road Home program had just over 100,000 applicants. Little did we know that number would grow to the nearly 150,000 applicants we have today, and that our funding would be projected to run short.

I boil it down to a "more, more, less" circumstance; the Road Home has more applicants, with more damage and less insurance than the FEMA estimates used to calculate our funding. Now that the program has gained momentum and we are nearing the July 31 application deadline, it is clear that those early estimates do not meet up with the reality of our need.

That's nobody's fault, it is a simple fact. And I am working to educate our federal government of just what it will take to address that new reality and bring our people home.

While in Washington, I met with Speaker Pelosi, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and other key leaders whose help is critical to our success. I spoke with Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. John Olver, both members of the powerful appropriations committees that hammer out the federal budget. They advised me our best approach is through an emergency supplemental funding bill, which will be crafted early this fall.

This timeline is in sync with our needs, because it will only be after the July 31 deadline that we will have a true assessment of our funding shortfall. Even now, we are working with estimates - and we have learned no estimates can truly predict the magnitude of our people's needs.

Nevertheless, the new Congress is willing to meet those needs, and will work with us to fill this funding gap. They have committed to do so because Louisiana is stepping up to the plate, spending some $4.6 billion - and counting - in state dollars to meet our challenges and obligations stemming from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In fact, we are investing just over $700 million toward the Road Home shortfall as we negotiate for federal funding.

I look forward to working with our Louisiana Delegation as we pursue this critical funding. Together we will meet this new challenge and help our people return home.


The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation
Louisiana's Fund for Louisiana's People

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