Tuesday, August 29, 2006

From The Safety Of Being Out Of Range

This morning, to mark the one-year anniversary of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused in New Orleans and the gulf coast region, President Bush called on former residents to return. Mr. Bush delivered these remarks from St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, an area that was not impacted by the storm. The Associated Press quoted the President as saying, "I know you love New Orleans, and New Orleans needs you." She needs people coming home. She needs people - she needs those saints to come marching back, is what she needs!"

It raises a question: Come home to what?

On Monday, at a White House press conference, the President admitted that a large part of the $110 billion committed by the Federal government to Katrina relief has not made it to Louisiana. It seems that the administration’s response a year later is not any better than it was when the actual disaster occurred. Sadly, it reeks of the mediocrity that we’ve come to expect from six years of conservative Republicanism.

Just how grim are things? Take a look. The AP reports that one year later:

  • Only half of New Orleans has electricity.
  • Half its hospitals are closed.
  • Violent crime is up.
  • Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers and mobile homes.
  • Much debris remains to be cleared.

    And then there's the small matter of the levees...

    This spring, the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged that the levees would not be up to category 3 standards (i.e. Katrina levels) by June, the official start of hurricane season. Of even greater concern is the fact that there is no timetable or plan in place to bring them up to category 4 or 5 standards.
    I don’t blame the Army Corps of Engineers. They are doing a tremendous job of trying to fix something that they reported was inadequate as far back as 1996. Something by the way, which President Clinton increased funding for and which President Bush significantly slashed. The conclusion: New Orleans is one good storm away from another disaster.

    But the President says return. Well, I suppose he's never misled us before...

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