Monday, March 13, 2006

Pounding my head on the wall

Pardon the noise- it's just me pounding my head against the wall again and again and again... It is shameful how the good people of the Gulf States have been ignored, avoided, overlooked, disregarded, shunned, evaded- well you get the picture, it's just wrong. It has been more than 6 months since Katrina had her way with Louisiana, Mississippi and other states in the region. It has been 6 months since President Bush visited those good people and made promises about housing, rebuilding, the levee's....

On September 15, 2005, Bush made a speech in Jackson Square in New Orleans. About housing,
he promised to empty shelters quickly, meet the immediate needs of the displaced, register victims, and provide housing aid in the form of rental assistance and trailers. Fast forward to January 2006,
trailers in Louisiana have been provided for about 37 percent of the estimated 90,000 displaced families in need of housing. Officials acknowledge production bottlenecks and in-state battles over sites. Trailer costs have swelled from $19,000 to $75,000 apiece.
And this week, Senate minority leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) visited the Hope Arkansas airport to view the 11, 000 FEMA trailers that are sitting and rotting, waiting for FEMA to distribute them to hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast. Rep Reid says he is "ashamed for our country" We should all be ashamed for our country, but sadly, this kind of treatment is nothing new for this administration.

Here is FEMA's response to why these trailers are sitting in Hope, AR rather than in Mississippi or Louisiana.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said that it was unable to put the trailers to use because federal regulations prohibit placing them in flood plains, and many of those needing shelter after the hurricanes are in areas classified as flood-prone.
I don't know how anyone can say this with a straight face? How can anyone say this without checking up their chain of command and asking and pleading that this could not be true and HOW CAN WE FIX THIS? I don't know if the answer is to rebuild New Orleans, that is for brighter minds than mine. But I do know that while everyone is pointing fingers at each other, these families lives are nowhere near getting better.

I don't know what a fair cost would be to rebuild a house in the Gulf States, but I imagine $75,000 would go a long way towards a downpayment and certainly would minimize the costs that are being paid for housing vouchers. I suspect the good people who have been misplaced by the hurricane just want their old lives back. I suspect they don't understand why Barbara Bush said about victims in Houston And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

I don't care if she says she didn't mean it *that* way, I don't care if *they* say her comments were taken out of context. It was insensitive at best and cruel at worst. It demonstrates how the Bush family thinks about people who aren't *them*.

There is something wrong with the system that says you spend several hundred thousand dollars to buy trailers for hurricane victims to help them rebuild their lives and then you can't move those trailers where they need them because these families live in a flood plain. Of course they do, that's why they need new housing!

Bush blames the Congress for "shortchanging the process" of getting funds to all of the damaged states instead of the levee projects in Lousisiana
"I was kind of upset. He's blaming all this on Congress, and then he has the audacity to say what limited money he's helped us get, put it all on Louisiana. That's not fair," Reid said Saturday. "I'm very, very disappointed."
I'll bet that was an understatement. This country can do better, but does this administration want to?

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