Sunday, November 06, 2005

FEMA prepares the bill for its excellent service

FEMA this week announced it will be sending Louisiana a bill for its excellent service after Hurricane . The cost? Three point seven billion dollars, according to NOLA.Com.

In all fairness, much of that will be the cost of providing up to $26,000 each to the hardest hit households. In and St. Bernard Parish, an estimated 60,000 could be eligible. A news reader on MSNBC on Nov. 5 mentioned this generous payment from FEMA, but neglected to mention that state would be dunned for this money.

The state's entire annual budget under normal circumstances is $18.7 billion. Post-Katrina and Rita, the state faces a $1 billion deficit, with no immediate prospect of recovery of tax revenues anywhere along the devastated coast from Lake Charles to Slidell. Instead, it faces it's own hurricane related expenses beyond those of FEMA.

As Baton Rouge Morning Advocate columnist Will Stenell succintly sums up, there is no future for the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast without massive federal assistance.

Despite the daily criticism by state and local officials of federal help for hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, this is the truth:

The state's future rests squarely in the hands of the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress.

As noted below about the response of the current administration, those are the most frightening words I've read since Sept. 28.

Among his criticisms of the local and federal response is that Senators May Landrieu and David Vitter can't seem to agree on what to do next.. Perhaps Mr. Stenell doesn't find time to read the national pages of his newspaper, but I'll explain it to him: the current partisan leadership in the White House and Congress brooks no dissent. They have decided they can't (or just won't) pay to rebuild the coast. Sen. Vitter has to choose: keep party discipline and his political career, or stand up for his state and be politically ostracized. Apparently he has chosen, like all of the careerists in Congress, his career over the welfare of the people he represents.

All this leads me to wonder: if the war in Iraq is in repines to 9-11 (evidence to the contrary non-withstanding), how is New York ever going to find it's share of the half-trillion dollar cost of this federal service?

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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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