Monday, November 07, 2005

Post-Katrina update

We came home from our two-week trip to discover that no debris had been cleared during our absence. Now, suddenly, I cannot get out of my neighborhood again because of the trucks, forklifts, and cherry-pickers that are everywhere.

FEMA told the city of Slidell to remove the temporary showers from a harbor facility because evacuees were no longer living there. The next morning, seventy-four evacuees were unable to take showers.

FEMA has sent a bill to the state of Louisiana for $3.7 billion worth of post-hurricane services, 9% of the projected costs of Katrina/Rita relief. No one has any idea how it can be paid. Governor Blanco is urging huge cuts in many state programs, and is expecting strong opposition from legislators. She has asked that all elected officials disclose any earnings they make from hurricane relief efforts. You may be wondering how they can be allowed to earn any money from relief efforts, and your question would be legitimate. However, it is going to be problematic enough to get them to disclose what they do make. Asking them to refrain from earning the income would probably get you, me, or Blanco laughed out of the room. All the same, I wish she would put her foot down on this issue.

For the most part, the governor has Republican support for her plan to cut the budget, but not a lot of Democratic support. The other parts of the plan include providing additional business tax incentives and borrowing some money.

While I was waiting at the Gulfport/Biloxi airport on Saturday, I met a man who is a pastor on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He said his church provides aid to people have received absolutely nothing from the federal government. Their slogan is "Shop 'til you drop," and they specialize in providing shoes to evacuees. A few of us were gathered around him, talking about the aftermath of the hurricane, and we all agreed that when the news media went home, suddenly there was "no more money."

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