Friday, October 28, 2005
Bush backs further away from Gulf commitments
When Bush traveled to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he promised massive federal assistance for the recostruction of the Gulf Coast.
As reported here earlier, the administration had already begun to retreat from, or simply disregard their promises.
Backing away from providing real hurricane protection of the New Orleans is tantamount to backing away from reconstruction. FEMA's flood maps for the city or any flood prone area are mitigated by flood protection structures. The elevation of the levees, for example, governs how high residents must rebuild.
Without elevating the levee system, many homeowners who have sustained more than 50% damage--and that will include wide swaths of the northern and eastern areas of the city--may have to elevate even higher, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of reconstruction.
Louisiana's bickering Congression delegation on Friday agreed that Bush's efforts fall short. Reacting to a plan to re-arrange the existing aid rather than propose additional funds, both Sen. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter found fault.
"The $17 billion in this request falls far short of the blueprint for reconstruction that the president promised the people of the Gulf Coast," Landrieu said in a statement. "We asked for real resources, not an accounting shell game with a wink and nod to possible real commitment down the line."
Bush's plan does call for funds to design a Category Five levee system. But without a commitment to quickly move on levee elevation, the federal government's move to abandon Louisiana to its fate is increasingly clear.
Mayor Nagin expressed his frustration, telling a town hall meeting he had "doubt[s] about how much aid Louisiana will get from the federal government, especially compared with the federal response after Hurricane Wilma struck Florida this week. "What I start to realize is that Washington is very skeptical about helping us," he said.
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