Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The attention of the president wandered away."

A scathing description:

Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast three years ago this week. The president promised to do whatever it took to rebuild. But the nation is trying to fight wars in several countries and is dealing with economic crisis. The attention of the president wandered away.

Like a sugar-addled adolescent with a new Gameboy. History will not be kind, nor should it.

New Orleans human rights lawyer Bill Quigley offers a grim tally of where broken promises and short attention spans have left this jewel of an American city. These are just some excerpts:

.008. Percentage of rental homes that were supposed to be repaired and occupied by August 2008 which were actually completed and occupied - a total of 82 finished out of 10,000 projected.

1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in percentage of housing vacant or ruined.


4. Number of the 13 City of New Orleans Planning Districts that are at the same risk of flooding as they were before Katrina.

10. Number of apartments being rehabbed so far to replace the 896 apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the Lafitte Housing Development.


20-25. Years that experts estimate it will take to rebuild the City of New Orleans at current pace.

25. Percent fewer hospitals in metro New Orleans than before Katrina.


43. Percentage of child care available in New Orleans compared to before Katrina.

46. Percentage increase in rents in New Orleans since Katrina.


10,000. Houses demolished in New Orleans since Katrina.

12,000. Number of homeless in New Orleans even after camps of people living under the bridges have been resettled - double the pre-Katrina number.

14,000. Number of displaced families in New Orleans area whose hurricane rental assistance expires in March 2009.


39,000. Number of Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal assistance in repair and rebuilding who still have not received any money.

45,000. Fewer children enrolled in Medicaid public healthcare in New Orleans than pre-Katrina.

46,000. Fewer African-American voters in New Orleans in 2007 gubernatorial election than in 2003 gubernatorial election.

55,000. Fewer houses receiving mail than before Katrina.


368 million. Dollar losses of five major metro New Orleans hospitals from Katrina through 2007. In 2008, these hospitals expect another $103 million in losses.

1.9 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to metro New Orleans for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

2.6 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to State of Louisiana for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

Broken promises and short attention spans.

Friday the 29th will mark an anniversary--three years earlier, while Katrina was doing its worst to New Orleans, Bush and McCain arranged a photo op with a birthday cake for McCain in the 110-degree heat as the two crossed paths at a Phoenix airport. As soon as the photos were taken, both men left for other business (none of which included Katrina). The birthday cake, no longer needed once the photo op was over, was thrown away, uneaten.

Broken promises, short attention spans, and dessert left to melt on the tarmac.

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