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How’s That Recovery Going?

Associated Press notes the Homeless camp outside New Orleans City Hall

NEW ORLEANS – The homeless of New Orleans have left the city’s shelters and gutted buildings to set up camp on the mayor’s doorstep.

About 250 homeless people have erected pup-tents – the only affordable housing they say they could find since Hurricane Katrina – and created a colony of despair in a grassy plaza outside City Hall.

Mayor Ray Nagin’s second-floor office faces the camp, and its residents rally almost daily with the chant: “Hey, Ray! How about a house today!”

Public housing that could have been renovated is being torn down, the insurance companies have to be sued to pay off, the levees aren’t fixed, the Federal monies only seem to make it to corporations and the wealthy. The city cannot really get going until there is someplace for the workers to live, but those rental units aren’t being built.

[More from Scout at First Draft.]

Chris Kromm of Facing South notes that the same thing is happening with Mississippi’s failing recovery.

The “miracle” in the Mississippi recovery is that no one wants to mention it’s a disaster like Louisiana despite a disproportionate amount of Federal assistance. Like New Orleans the money is going to corporations and the wealthy, but you have to sue the insurance companies to get what’s due and the Federal money is being re-routed or delayed.

[Read Ana Maria at A.M. in the Morning! for a better feel for Mississippi’s problems.]

Now we learn that what reconstruction that has been done may be at risk because New Orleans flood-control system not as advertised

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) — A system of floodgates and pumps built since Hurricane Katrina to help alleviate flooding in several New Orleans neighborhoods may not be as much help as authorities first said.

The Army Corps of Engineers released flood risk maps on a block-by-block basis on June 20, but didn’t include some technical data, preventing independent assessments of the accuracy of the maps.

The maps showed that the improvements made to the city canals’ drainage systems would reduce flooding during a major storm by about 5.5 feet in Lakeview and nearby neighborhoods. The maps were based on a storm that has the likelihood of occurring at least once in 100 years.

But in a report released November 7, Corps scientists estimated that the actual benefit the system would provide would be just 6 inches.

The discrepancy was tucked into the voluminous report’s appendices, and neither the Corps nor the scientists hired to conduct the study brought the changes to the public’s attention when the report was released. It wasn’t until New Orleans television station WWL-TV asked an engineer involved in the assessment about the discrepancy that it became known.

“We’ve made some corrections,” the engineer, Ed Link, told The Associated Press on Friday night.

Link said the mistakes were apparently made in the calculations for two sub-basins that include Lakeview and nearby neighborhoods. In one, a minus sign was used instead of a plus sign.

Donald Powell, federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding, said in a statement he was only informed of the errors in the maps on Friday night.

“Our team immediately contacted Dr. Link to express my strong concerns and my expectations on how the public will be better informed in the future. While the news is disappointing, it is an indication that the ongoing review process of the draft materials is working as intended.”

Let me see if I have this right, Mr. Powell, your plan was to have local television stations investigate the Corps of Engineers report on flood control? Is this in line with threatening teenagers and having YouTube videos taken down when they point out possible conflicts of interest? Were you depending on an individual blogger to tell you about the problems with the pumps you bought and the way you bought them?

All y’all should be put in a single story cell block by the floodwall in the ninth ward, and we’ll let you ride out the next storm.


1 hipparchia { 11.18.07 at 10:11 pm }

let them eat poker chips! i hear the casinos in mississippi are back in full swing.

as for the homeless leaving the shelters to set up camp on the mayor’s doorstep: more power to them, i say, but with 12,000 homeless people and room in the shelters for what? 1000 or so? that first sentence is a bit disingenuous.

“market value” i’ll buy, but since when is $764 for an efficiency apartment fair?

2 Bryan { 11.18.07 at 10:48 pm }

The casinos had the cash to start rebuilding immediately and the lawyers to insure they were paid by the insurance companies. Corporations don’t have the problems that individuals have when dealing with other corporations, and I assume that casinos have other resources to speed things up.

Nagin wants to talk about helping a 1000 people, when that leaves ten times as many on the street. You can’t recover without workers, and workers need someplace to live.

3 hipparchia { 11.18.07 at 11:26 pm }

having lots of money really helps, whether you’re a person or a corporation.

not that very many individual people have the kind of money that’s needed to meet the countless obstacles to rebuilding that come in the wake of such widespread destruction, which is why we developed instruments like insurance,,, and emergency management…

4 Bryan { 11.19.07 at 12:42 pm }

When Congresscritters have to give up their “principles” and hire personal injury lawyers to get what they paid for, you know the system is broken.