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Old March 29th, 2006, 05:20 AM   #1
hkskyline
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New Orleans After Katrina

Post-storm New Orleans economy a huge question mark
By ALAN SAYRE
28 March 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Most of Big Oil has returned to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, Mardi Gras got the city back in the tourism business and the skilled construction trades can't get enough workers. The city's population -- 455,000 before Katrina and almost zero after storm evacuations -- is now near 190,000 and expected to climb.

But Tim and Renee Baldwin likely won't be part of any long-term recovery.

"It's hard to make a judgment about the future," said Tim Baldwin, a French Quarter bartender who lives in the city's Uptown section, which was largely spared from flooding. "It's a matter of day to day, a question of who's staying and who's leaving. We're probably leaving."

Meanwhile, for Ida Manheim, the owner of a French Quarter antique store that's been in her family for four decades, there's no question.

"I'm going to help rebuild New Orleans," Manheim said. "It's a wonderful city."

While economists and think tanks struggle to come up with a quantitative prediction of the city's future, there is a common theme: New Orleans will be a much smaller city with an economic growth that will be fragile for years to come. There are simply too many unknowns and no other modern disaster with which to compare Katrina, leaving residents and businesses acting largely on faith.

Shell Exploration & Production Co. surprised many by bringing its 1,000 employees back and sponsoring the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival, one of the city's major tourist draws. And ChevronTexaco returned 700 white-collar workers, helping to alleviate fears that Katrina had done away with New Orleans' remaining oil business.

With billions of dollars in reconstruction work facing the city and not enough skilled craftsmen to go around, the construction business will be "like gold mining in the gold rush days," said Loren Scott, a retired economics professor at Louisiana State University who tracks the state's employment picture.

On the down side, the state's only Fortune 500 company, utility holding firm Entergy Corp., says its New Orleans headquarters will be scaled down. And Hibernia National Bank, acquired last year by Capital One Financial Corp., is moving 350 to 400 jobs from its 3,100 pre-storm payroll to Dallas, citing the lack of housing.

Scores of small retail businesses and restaurants aren't sure how long they can remain viable with so few workers and a housing shortage that grows worse. Baldwin said the monthly rent on his family's home will jump from $900 (euro745) to $1,550 (euro1,283) in October.

The housing crunch has created a problem -- and, for some, a big expense -- for businesses too. Shell spent $33 million (euro27.3 million) to acquire about 120 residential units in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas to lease back to their workers at cost.

The suburban commute for many now reaches as far away as Baton Rouge, 65 miles (104 kilometers) northwest of New Orleans.

Jason Williams, who's self-employed, drives at least an hour and 10 minutes in each direction on a work day that starts early in the morning. "On a bad day, it can take anywhere from two hours and up," he said.

Williams and his family plan to return to their rental house in New Orleans next month. They're lucky -- their longtime landlord isn't hiking the rent.

Others will never return.

RAND Corp., a private think tank, projects the city's population will reach only 272,000 by September 2008, three years after Katrina. Greg Rigamer, head of GCR & Associates Inc., a New Orleans consulting firm, said RAND is too conservative. He projects a population of 250,000 to 275,000 by the end of 2006, followed by an extreme slowdown as housing fills up.

Renee Baldwin, who's home-schooling her 12-year-old daughter in addition to keeping a job in the petroleum support industry, said she believes the housing scenario could put the city's middle class in jeopardy.

"The area is going to be people with a lot of money or people without any money," she said. "They're pushing the middle class out. Not everyone can afford to pay $1,500 (euro1,241) a month for rent."

Mike Pendley, who works in the oilfield service business in New Orleans, chose to live in Baton Rouge and commute when he transferred from Houston three years ago. He believes many New Orleans workers will decide to become permanent Baton Rouge residents.

"It will be the safety factor for the their families, the levee factor," Pendley said. "They won't have to worry about flooding. The schools are better, and the area is perhaps safer."

Scott, the retired economist, said the recovery likely will speed up if New Orleans escapes a major storm this year -- or could be stopped stone-cold by another.

"If it happens again, you're going to have people giving up on coming back, businesses giving up on coming back and taxpayers in the other 49 states questioning sending billions (of dollars) into the area," he said.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 11:55 PM   #2
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New Orleans airport's recovery continues
29 March 2006

KENNER, La. (AP) - Seven months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' international airport is at more than 50 percent of its pre-storm passenger levels, airport officials say.

Passenger traffic in February at Louis Armstrong International Airport was down 48 percent from a year ago, while traffic in December was off 54 percent from figures the year before, according to statistics released by the airport.

In February, nearly 427,000 passengers passed through the airport, compared to almost 835,000 in February 2005. There were 69 flights daily, compared to 154 during the previous February.

The amount of cargo and freight shipped through the airport was down 38.9 percent to 8.9 million pounds in February. It was 14.6 million pounds the year before. In December, freight volume was off 45 percent.

More flights are being added, said airport spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc. On March 17, there were 87 daily flights serving 28 cities.

By early June, Armstrong is expected to have 101 daily flights, which is 61 percent of its pre-Katrina total of 166 daily flights, Duffourc said.

------

Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.timespicayune.com
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Old March 31st, 2006, 07:05 AM   #3
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It'd be nice to see the city rebuilt, but is it worth the risk? Man can never defeat nature (God), and by trying to rebuilt, he just shows his stubborness. Should the city be once again washed away come the next hurricane season, those who have moved back, have only themselves to blame.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 07:46 AM   #4
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Not worth the risk. They announced today that it is going to cost TWICE the ammount they originaly thought to rebuild the levees..... that's just to prevent FURTHER damage, most of the city is already in ruins and is going to stay that way. It's very sad, but if another hurricane comes this year, which is very possible, New Orleans won't have enough protection to prevent an even worse catastrophie. It is a city with beatiful charecter and charm, but it is not meant to be where it is. They should rebuild it on higher ground, either that or just forget it. If they are lucky enough to avoid any kind of tropical system this year, some how manage to get the money needed to rebuild the levees AND the city itself.... it should be maintained as a much smaller city, under 200k for sure. That would be the ideal situation.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 03:59 PM   #5
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Not quite true. "Most" of New Orleans is NOT in ruins.

The big problem with the "cat 5" levee demands is that they're kind of like banning OSB/waferboard for roofs in Dade County after Andrew, or calling for national ID cards after 9/11 -- it's something that wouldn't have prevented the catastrophe that motivated it in the first place.

The flooding in New Orleans wasn't due to the levees not being high enough, nor was it due to damage from the HURRICANE itself. The major levee breach happened because a barge crashed into it -- a mode of failure that nobody had even thought of or tried to protect against (kind of like crashing a jet into a skyscraper, or having a Dade County garage door blow out, exposing the drywall walls between the garage and rest of the house to full hurricane winds and destroying the rest of the house within a matter of minutes).

The best thing they could do in New Orleans is improve the levees a bit, add a few NEW ones to contain the effects of a future breach, but more importantly, offer low-interest mitigation loans to enable people in low-lying areas to have their houses raised (basically, jacking the whole structure up onto pilings, then turning the new first floor into the garage and old garage (now inaccessible to cars) into a bonus room.

Anyone who works with fault-tolerant computer systems knows that it's futile to try achieving "100%" protection with any single component, regardless of how good and robust it is. Instead, you take lots of "99.999%" components and make them able to take over when one of the others fails. Congress could spend a hundred trillion dollars building the most flawless, "infallible" levee system around New Orleans, and somehow it will STILL fail due to some unforseen problem within 200 or 300 years. It's far better to have 2 or 3 layers of "good enough" levees, together with buildings that can mostly survive a flood without destruction.

What's utterly insane are the people in New Orleans who are demanding an exception to the FEMA rule that rebuilt homes MUST MUST MUST (non-negotiably) be on pilings. Proposals to "move the city" are stupid, but constructing NEW buildings in low-lying areas that aren't on pilings so their first floor lies entirely above the likely hundred-year flood level is madness. And I have zero sympathy for anyone who wants to rebuild without pilings... it's been the rule in coastal areas of Florida for more than two decades now, and nobody complains about it anymore.... they just build new houses on pilings that do a good job of making it non-obvious that they're on pilings.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 04:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROCguy
Not worth the risk. They announced today that it is going to cost TWICE the ammount they originaly thought to rebuild the levees..... that's just to prevent FURTHER damage, most of the city is already in ruins and is going to stay that way. It's very sad, but if another hurricane comes this year, which is very possible, New Orleans won't have enough protection to prevent an even worse catastrophie. It is a city with beatiful charecter and charm, but it is not meant to be where it is. They should rebuild it on higher ground, either that or just forget it. If they are lucky enough to avoid any kind of tropical system this year, some how manage to get the money needed to rebuild the levees AND the city itself.... it should be maintained as a much smaller city, under 200k for sure. That would be the ideal situation.
This kind of thinking really makes me mad. New Orleans IS worth the risk. This city was founded in 1718 and has sucessfully stood up to hurricanes for nearly 3 centuries. The truth is we're unlikely to see another storm hit the the Crescent City like Katrina in any of our lifetimes. We should do whatever we can to protect New Orleans, including raising the levees and restoring the protective wetlands. But, New Orleans is too unique and precious a resource to even consider abandoning. That's just crazy talk.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 03:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROCguy
Not worth the risk. They announced today that it is going to cost TWICE the ammount they originaly thought to rebuild the levees..... that's just to prevent FURTHER damage, most of the city is already in ruins and is going to stay that way. It's very sad, but if another hurricane comes this year, which is very possible, New Orleans won't have enough protection to prevent an even worse catastrophie. It is a city with beatiful charecter and charm, but it is not meant to be where it is. They should rebuild it on higher ground, either that or just forget it. If they are lucky enough to avoid any kind of tropical system this year, some how manage to get the money needed to rebuild the levees AND the city itself.... it should be maintained as a much smaller city, under 200k for sure. That would be the ideal situation.
LOL.hahahahahahahahahah. This is about the funniest, least educated post I've seen on this board in a very long time. Cheers to you, you've topped just about them all with the most ridiculous post!!
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Old April 3rd, 2006, 09:28 AM   #8
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nothing funny about it!
You show ostrich mentality... Have you heard the african tale that "An ostrich buries its head in the sand when in danger. By doing so, he doesnt see the lion, therefore the lion can't see him"!
and the guy who mentioned about NO being est. in 1718. God has his own time. 3 Centuries dont mean anything. The Mississippi is just taking its path, and will do so, whenever, wherever Man has come in its way. This is a lesson for all human settlements built on lowlying areas and disaster proan areas. S.Fran, Venice, Holland etc. People have to weigh what's more important in their stubborness: the continuous future lost of lives & resources by rebuilding a 'precious resource city'; or resettling in a more safe environment that will cost far less in terms of both human lives and cheaper restructering.
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Old April 3rd, 2006, 04:35 PM   #9
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It makes sense to fight for a city when it's sinking economicaly. Because it's usually possible to come back from that; but you can't fight against mother nature when a city is sinking literaly. New Orleans will go down in American history thats for sure, and will never be forgotten for what it once was. But it shouldn't and won't, be as big as it was pre-katrina. Luckily enough, the really nice areas like the Garden distict and most of the French quarter aren't the areas in ruins and are above sea level. That's the part of New Orleans that should be maintained, but the rest of it, they should just continue buldozing and let nature take it's course.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 03:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamicanes
Not quite true. "Most" of New Orleans is NOT in ruins.

What's utterly insane are the people in New Orleans who are demanding an exception to the FEMA rule that rebuilt homes MUST MUST MUST (non-negotiably) be on pilings. Proposals to "move the city" are stupid, but constructing NEW buildings in low-lying areas that aren't on pilings so their first floor lies entirely above the likely hundred-year flood level is madness. And I have zero sympathy for anyone who wants to rebuild without pilings... it's been the rule in coastal areas of Florida for more than two decades now, and nobody complains about it anymore.... they just build new houses on pilings that do a good job of making it non-obvious that they're on pilings.
Houses on pilings arent built much anymore in florida reason why is they are wood frame and in high winds they fall down look at any hurricane that hits north carolina. Anyways New Orleans can be saved people can say its doomed and all that i guess holland would be gone if they had that attitude if we really want to new orleans can be built back to how it was before or better. The city just needs to build very strong levees and try to make it as flood proof as they can otherwise there is no point of people moving back yet because the smallest hurricane will flood the city.

Remember Holland had massive floods in the past now look they have advanced flood gates and everything new orleans could do the same they have billions from our government so id like to see that money go to make that city last i didnt get to see it in its former glory. I cant believe some of these people new orleans is f**ked and that crap. I guess we should give up on florida too since we keep getting hurricanes and when california gets the big one we should not build back over there either we should all live in inland areas and pretend we are safe from everything. Seriously people know the price to pay when they move somewhere if we really want to we can manage to survive almost anywhere.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 06:13 AM   #11
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Authorities watching for signs of gang resurgence
17 March 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Most of the city's drug dealers and violent criminals were blown out by Hurricane Katrina, but authorities warn that a potentially more dangerous crop of criminals could invade with the influx of workers piling into New Orleans.

The head of New Orleans police and a top FBI official, though, said Thursday that the potential for new gangs, particularly notorious Hispanic groups, to come to the city in large numbers far outweighs the reality.

Of the handful gang members arrested in recent weeks, all have acknowledged their gang affiliation but maintained they had come to New Orleans looking to earn an honest living, police said.

Three members of a violent South American gang were arrested recently in St. Bernard Parish, not for violence or drugs but for property crimes unrelated to their gang affiliation, authorities said.

"All the graffiti we're seeing is not gang-related," Police Superintendent Warren Riley said. "But there is some indication that there are a number of Hispanic gang members in town working, part of the work force brought to this city by the storm. At this point, there is no indication that they are criminally active."

Meanwhile, as gang members and street artists continue to mark their territory, members of Operation Clean Sweep, a nonprofit program supported by the city and the police department, has dedicated itself to scrubbing away graffiti as quickly as it goes up, gang-related or not.

The group's director, Fred Radtke, said he and his team have eliminated more than 10,000 tags and reduced graffiti in the city by 65 percent.

Though there may be a gang element within the larger group, Riley said, without many of those workers the city would be moving even slower through the rebuilding process.

FBI special agent in charge James Bernazzani said most of the Hispanic gang members in town are skilled craftsmen, electricians, plumbers and carpenters "who just happen to be gang members."

"We don't have the numbers," Bernazzani said. "We have a few individuals here trying to make an honest buck."

Bernazzani said New Orleans-area law enforcement will routinely meet and compare data and consult the National Gang Intelligence Center to identify various gangs through tattoos and tags logged into a national database.

"We certainly don't want citizens to believe that there is some significant gang problem," Riley said. "The story here is that we are ahead of the curve."
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Old April 6th, 2006, 03:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Houses on pilings arent built much anymore in florida reason why is they are wood frame and in high winds they fall down look at any hurricane that hits north carolina.
Wood? That's so pre-Andrew. Take a trip to the Keys, Marco Island, Sanibel Island, or other areas that have mostly exploded with development over the past 10 years. They're built like mini-skyscrapers now, with concrete pilings driven down to the bedrock, suspended slab, and ICF walls.

Typical south Florida new waterfront homes (this architecture firm's homes are EVERYWHERE in Naples/Ft. Myers.) --







and, for one that would look right at home in New Orleans:

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Old April 6th, 2006, 04:36 PM   #13
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^ Are those affordable to the lower and middle classes though? There seems to be a lot of wooden homes in the hurricane-prone regions still.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #14
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US struggles to recruit disaster chief as new hurricane season looms

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2006 (AFP) - The administration of US President George W. Bush is struggling ahead of the looming hurricane season to recruit a new federal disaster management chief after several candidates turned the job down, The New York Times reported Sunday.

"Seven of these candidates for director or another top FEMA job said in interviews that they had pulled themselves out of the running," the Times said.

The administration is scrambling to find a new disaster chief to head up the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before the June-September storm season hits, after its last chief was ousted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Former FEMA director Michael Brown was forced from office over the administration's lackluster response to Katrina which devastated New Orleans and large swathes of the US Gulf coast, killing over 1,000 people.

But seven months after Katrina, the government has still to find a new FEMA chief, the Times reported.

It said those canvassed for the job so far were "unconvinced that the administration is serious about fixing the Federal Emergency Management Agency or that there is enough time actually to get it done before president Bush's second term ends" in early 2009.

"You don't take the fire chief job after someone has burned down the city unless you are going to be able to do it in the right fashion," Ellis M. Stanley, a general manager of emergency planning in Los Angeles and one of those called by the administration, told the Times.

The report said Bush is now likely to nominate R. David Paulison, a former fire official who has been filling in for the past seven months, to take the job permanently.

"To a lot of people that would be an insult," said Craig Fugate, the top emergency management official in Florida, who said he also had been interviewed but then withdrew his name.

"They have been publicly out looking at how many different names and everyone turned it down and they come back and ask you?" Fugate told the Times.

With much of New Orleans and the Gulf coast still to be rebuild and widespread criticism of the government's slow response to Katrina last year, the White House is looking for a seasoned disaster official.

Brown, who resigned in September, was criticised for his lack of experience. He was previously a commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association.

And Bush's first FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh, was a Bush campaign manager during the 2000 election.

Several emergency managers, including those who were considered for the job, said they were confident, however, that Paulison was up to the task, even if he had not yet had an opportunity to offer a vision for the agency.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 07:20 AM   #15
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I was in New Orleans over spring break doing cleanup work. It's a very odd city right now. Half of it is back to normal. Half is abandoned and some of that half hasn't been touched since the hurricane. (Particully an unflushed toilet I had to haul out of a house. I still haven't touched my boots since I got back).
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Old April 7th, 2006, 03:26 PM   #16
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I think its economy will back on track very soon.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 04:15 PM   #17
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New landfill turns into latest rebuilding hurdle in New Orleans
By CAIN BURDEAU
6 April 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Dozens of residents of swampy eastern New Orleans protested Mayor Ray Nagin's move to allow a new dump for Hurricane Katrina debris to go up near their community.

The protesters -- Vietnamese-Americans, including nuns, children and retirees -- rallied outside City Hall on Thursday, shouting "No Landfill," and then won a resolution from the City Council that asks Nagin to rescind his February emergency order clearing the way for the dump.

Their outcry was the latest hurdle in the city's rebuilding. It came from an influential group not known for protests: Roman Catholic refugees and their descendants who settled in eastern New Orleans after the communist takeover of Vietnam.

The Rev. Luke Nguyen of the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church said a landfill would drive property values down and discourage residents from returning to east New Orleans at a time when the community needs people and has begun building a "Viet-Town" to attract tourists.

Environmental groups have also blasted the proposed landfill, charging that officials have tried to ram the project through the permitting process. If built, the landfill would also abut the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

Veronica White, the city's sanitation director, said the landfill would not contaminate the area and would not pose a risk to nearby waterways. She said a lack of landfill space has slowed debris removal, and that it would $50,000 (euro40,600) more a day to truck the debris elsewhere.

She said there are still about 12.5 million cubic yards (9.6 million cubic meters) of debris to pick up.

The use of the nearby Old Gentilly Landfill, an old city dump, as the primary site for disposal of Katrina debris in New Orleans has also drawn fire.

The Sierra Club and other groups argue it was not suitable for so much waste and that it will become an environmental hazard.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 04:16 PM   #18
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U.S. government study finds serious problems in handling of Katrina aid from abroad
By WILLIAM C. MANN
7 April 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal auditors laid out a scenario of omissions, missteps and bureaucratic nightmares that caused a loss of money and other donations sent from abroad to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Government Accountability Office attributed the errors, which involved as many as eight government agencies, to the United States' lack of experience as a recipient of huge amounts of aid from others.

"Given that the U.S. government had never before received such substantial amounts of international disaster assistance, ad hoc procedures were developed to manage the acceptance and distribution of the cash and in-kind assistance," the GAO said in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday to a House of Representatives committee.

"It is understandable that not all procedures would be in place at the outset."

The agency said $126 million (euro103 million) in cash came in from 36 countries after the Aug. 29 hurricane devastated New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

With plans lacking for dealing with such a large-scale influx, legal restrictions kicked in that required almost half the cash to be held in accounts that paid no interest, resulting in a loss of almost $1 million (euro820,000) and diminished buying power for eventual hurricane relief.

Because $400 million (euro326.2 million) more has been pledged but not yet received, the GAO is urging that instructions be put in place quickly to handle the money.

"We want to find out if our government, in effect, looked this generous gift horse of foreign aid in the mouth," Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia said in welcoming two GAO officials to testify before his House Government Reform Committee. "It does no good to be offered money, or water, or food, or potentially lifesaving medical supplies if we don't get those donations into the hands of the people who need them."

An American saying is "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," which means even if the horse is old and worn out, it still is a useful animal to have.

Money was not the only shortcoming of the response to one of the nation's most costlye and deadly natural disasters, which killed almost 1,100 in Louisiana alone and hundreds more elsewhere. At least 1,900 people are listed as missing.

Typical of the misadventures was the failure to enlist government quality-control experts from the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration.

This resulted in importation of medical items and military food packages that should not have been allowed into the country; because they were, the government had to pay for storing them. The auditors were told of one shipment of military meals-ready-to-eat, however, that was delivered directly to a U.S. base whose personnel distributed the unknowingly banned MREs to hurricane victims.

The report, which will be published later, is the latest of a series of papers that have documented widespread mistakes and incompetence at all levels of government in the response to Katrina.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #19
miamicanes
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Oh for god's sake... New Orleans' biggest problem is that they have WAY too many people with nothing better to do than bitch & protest (when they aren't busy sitting around waiting for someone to save them). After Andrew, Dade County didn't spend 6 months holding environmental hearings, it just created a temporary garbage dump along the southern edge of State Road 836 in right-of-way that wasn't currently used, but was owned by FDOT for future expansion. I don't think they even officially asked FDOT first... I think they literally sent a note to FDOT saying, "hey, we're dumping debris in the ROW south of 836... we'll have it cleaned up eventually." It was about 8-12 stories high, stank like hell, and basically sat there for about 2 years. It sucked, but at least it gave the county somewhere to dump debris until a better place was found.

It's interesting that residents from the flooded edge of the FQ and garden district didn't sit around for weeks afterward waiting for the city government to finish its grand plan for rebuilding the city... they just came back and got to work doing it. They, like people in Miami, realized that after a disaster like that, you don't HAVE to wait for anyone's permission, because frankly the government is in no position at that point to stop you anyway.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 06:16 AM   #20
I-275westcoastfl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
^ Are those affordable to the lower and middle classes though? There seems to be a lot of wooden homes in the hurricane-prone regions still.
In florida decent homes arent affordable to the lower and some of the middle class but with that said most homes in florida are built of concrete blocks only wooden part is the roof. Outside of florida its alot of wood though.
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