a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch: "One Year after Katrina"

Posted by Thomas Nephew on August 24th, 2006

From the announcement:

Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch has published “One Year after Katrina” (pdf), a 96-page report that reveals the state of Gulf Coast rebuilding on the anniversary of the storm. Through statistics, status reports, in-depth investigations, and profiles of community leaders, “One Year After Katrina highlights the challenges ahead for a just and sustainable renewal.

The report analyzes over 250 indicators and reports on 13 major issue areas, including Demographics, Housing, Economy, Schools, Healthcare, Arts and Hurricane Readiness. The report also lists an index of some of the organizations working on Gulf Coast issues.

From the introduction to the report (.pdf file):

A year after Katrina, how much progress has New Orleans and the Gulf Coast made?To answer this question, the Institute analyzed over 200 indicators in 13 categories. We have also conducted status reports on key Gulf issues, launched in-depth investigations into the region’s economic power brokers and interviewed leading community activists in the Gulf region.

The conclusion is unavoidable and devastating: One year later, New Orleans and the Gulf region still face basic, fundamental barriers to renewal. Further, lack of federal leadership and misplaced priorities are preventing the region from achieving a vibrant future. For example:

Lack of HOUSING still keeps tens of thousands of Gulf residents from coming back home. Aid for homeowners in Louisiana and Mississippi was approved 10 months after the storms, and none has been disbursed. Little money has been earmarked for rebuilding rental units—none in Mississippi— and rents are skyrocketing. Eighty percent of public housing in New Orleans is still closed, despite minimal storm damage, and Mississippi residents learned that three coastal facilities will be shut down soon.

Problems continue to plague SCHOOLS in the region, making it difficult for many families to return. Only 57 of the 117 public schools in New Orleans before Katrina are scheduled to open in the 2006-2007 school year.

CONTRACTING SCANDALS and other special-interest dealings continue to plague the recovery. Institute analysis has found $136.7 million in corporate fraud in Katrina-related contracts, and government investigators have highlighted contracts worth $428.7 million that are troubling due to lack of oversight or misappropriation. Altogether, the Institute finds that corporate contracting abuse has cost taxpayers 50 times more than widely-publicized scandals involving individuals wrongfully collecting assistance.

Threats to the ENVIRONMENT are exposing residents to a wide range of toxins and making many think twice about returning to the region. Federal officials also have yet to commit the resources to restore coastal wetlands—the region’s best defense against future storms.

CROSSPOSTED from Recording Katrina.

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