Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Update on Katrina Recovery

I'd like pass along several stories about Katrina recovery, the original subject of this blog, that have come out this week.

A new survey from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that most New Orleanians are depressed about the state and pace of recovery and angry at Congress and the national media, but optimistic about the future. That doesn't surprise me; reconstruction has been abysmally slow and marred by scandal, but that is one upbeat town. The Washington Post reports on the poll,

Overall, nearly three-quarters of residents feel hopeful about the future of the greater New Orleans area. This comes despite broad pessimism about their economic prospects -- nearly two-thirds said good jobs are rare -- and low ratings for the multibillion-dollar recovery effort...

More than half of New Orleans residents, 52 percent, are "dissatisfied" or outright "angry" about the amount of progress that has been made. Twenty-three percent say that their lives are "largely back to normal" since the storm hit in August 2005, and nearly a quarter are seriously considering leaving the area.

Few residents think there has been significant progress in dealing with key issues such as crime, access to health care and the public school system. More than seven in 10 are dissatisfied with efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing. Overall, few are very satisfied with their own lives, and nearly six in 10 said it is a bad time for children to be growing up in the city.

Today's New York Times has an editorial about the poll called "Three Years After Katrina," calling on the next President and Congress to speed up the pace of recovery.

One reason recovery has been so slow is the corruption that has long plagued Louisiana politics. Most recently, it turns out that the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corporation (NOAH), a "city-chartered nonprofit agency" in charge of coordinating home gutting and construction, was paying contractors for both untouched homes and homes gutted and rebuilt by volunteers, including volunteers from the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. One of the contractors recieiving NOAH money for unverified work was Mayor Ray Nagin's brother-in-law. The feds raided NOAH's office and siezed records and computers yesterday. Grandmère Mimi comments here, here, and here.

Man, it will be so nice come January when George W. Bush and maybe even Senate Oversight Chair Joe Lieberman are no longer in charge of Katrina oversight.

But things aren't all bad. One bright note is an Episcopal Life Online story from the Diocese of Louisiana about local service efforts. "Day of Service to mark Katrina anniversary" reports on the dioceses' new "EDOLA Saturdays" program that will bring out local volunteers to help with building projects.

(Pictures from July 2008, courtesy CNET.)

2 comments:

doctorj2u said...

Nathan,
It was a New Orleans blogger that brought the NOAH controversy to light. Things are going to be better because the people are fighting hard to change old ways.

http://www.squanderedheritage.com/

Nathan Empsall said...

Jolie, nice to hear from you! :)

I read about Ms. Gadbois in today's New York Times, after I made this post. I'm very impressed by her work. Learning about her, I was reminded of Spokane's Shannon Sullivan, an umemployed single mom who almost-singlehandedly brought down the crooked mayor. Thinking about the two of them while working in DC has me considering perhaps one day writing a book about the difference one person can make.