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What has been your opinion of the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 29, 2006

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Photo of Julie Weeks

“From what I’ve heard, it’s been bad, but it’s hard to tell when you’re not there. The coverage has really dropped off. I’m sure there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”

Photo of LaMonte Lassiter

“It’s been very poor so far, as far as the government’s role is concerned. FEMA is the name that comes to mind. At one point they even referred to the people as refugees; I mean, these are American citizens. They’ve been promised a lot of things, and I feel sorry for the families involved.”

Photo of Kelly Johnson

“I don’t think it’s good enough. I know they’ve had a lot of telethons and fundraisers, but I would like to see more local community efforts.”

Photo of Alberto Abecueola

“I think that it’s not so good. It’s been a year, and still we can see almost the same conditions.”


Bone777 11 years, 9 months ago

Lots of good will, followed up by lots of government bumbling of billions of dollars. Good morning and early bird get the worm.

Bone777 11 years, 9 months ago

Early bird also can't proof read his post.

lunacydetector 11 years, 9 months ago

corrupt politicians might be the cause of the lack of faster progress. they can always play history revisionist and lay blame on someone else.

--if bush didn't cause global warming, there wouldn't have been a hurricane and it wouldn't have been so massive.
--if the federal government didn't blow up the levies to stomp on the black man there wouldn't have been the flooding. it was bush's fault.

i wonder how the history books will report it?

of course the blame needs to go against school bus nagin, leaving like 1,000 school buses for flood waters instead of for the evacuation, and of course the governor...both democrats, by the way, hmmmmmm.

don't democrats control our city as well?

jonas 11 years, 9 months ago

bwahahaha. Lunacydetector, you're just too much!

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

I've had staff go there to work on some of the utilities. They said it was still just awful.

c_doc77 11 years, 9 months ago

I remember a piece NPR did about 2 years prior to Katrina, in which they stated that a hurricane could destroy the city of New Orleans. So people knew this could happen and it was preventable. It was just a matter of time.

However, something definitely needs to be said about FEMA. Over 93% of FEMA's funds are spent on domestic military readiness, and those are just the numbers that have been made public. Much of their budget is undisclosed. But if you think their primary function is to help American citizens in times of crisis, think again. Brownie himself said that FEMA was not designed to help Americans in cases of natural disasters, and although he was trying to evade responsibility at the time, he was right.

For the low down on FEMA visit and

Trey Wiley 11 years, 9 months ago

I was in N.O. two months ago. The conditions were truly bad. Few of us here in Lawrence would be willing to live in some of the conditions I saw while working down there.

I hesitate to blame the "government". It is too easy to say the "government" isn't doing enough. Or that they bumbled the effort. We should all remember that the government isn't a person. It does not have hands. It does not have a heart. It can not pick up a hammer or comfort a weary soul.

The work that needs to happen in N.O. and the surrounding areas requires human beings. The amount of work is simply too much for the residence down there. The group I worked with (30 youth from Lawrence) helped three families for five days. We hardly made a dent in the amount of work needed to be done.

The group I supervised, helped an elderly lady. We talked with her and asked her what she wanted done. Her house was gutted and she was living with neighbors. The things she asked for was to have her backyard fence replaced so her dog could have a place to run free. We did not help her get back into her home but we helped her with the thing she most wanted. It was a very rewarding experience.

I am not trying to say that mistakes were not made, but lets be fair, few of us would have made better decisions in the face of such destruction. Furthermore, each of us can choose to make a good choice now by volunteering to help. The government will not solve N.O.'s problems, people helping people will have to be the answer.

I hope that each of you who read this feel convicted to volunteer and to stop making excuses about the government not doing enough or making mistakes. We all need to get up and get to work.

Hope you all have a great day!

c_doc77 11 years, 9 months ago

While I respect twiley's personal efforts toward rebuilding New Orleans, I do take issue with some of his logic. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Governor George W. Bush said that a government's first responsibility is to protect its citizens. Now to be fair, those comments were made within the context of military preparation. However, would not this same principle be applicable during domestic situations?

The fact of the matter is that the federal government sat on its hands for days while people died. I agree, the government is not a person. But it is an entity headed by a number of persons whose duty it is to protect the American citizens. Is it easy to blame them? Sure, it is. But it's also right to blame those who have the power to do something and yet fail or refuse to do so.

People are falling for this erroneous idea that government is fallible and therefore never negligent. The same logic is used to explain why the government had prior knowledge of 9/11 (this is a well-documented fact), and yet not only failed to thwart the attacks, but [Bush]forbade federal officers from investigating al Qaida prior to the attacks. Don't believe me? Google W199I - the order Bush gave the FBI.

But "they're not responsible". In fact, no one is responsible. "People make mistakes. " "Nobody's perfect." What ever happened to accountability?

christie 11 years, 9 months ago

The Early Bird may get the Worm, but the Second Mouse gets the Cheese.

On a serious note, the entire region is still a total mess. I drove from the shores of Alabama all the way past N.O. and the desperation is horrible. The amount of money we spend in 10 weeks on the fruitless search of Weapons of Mass Deception could pay for reconstruction of the entire area.

Remember to vote Democratic, the party that cares about the people.

acg 11 years, 9 months ago

It p*sses me off. I can't believe how bungled that whole thing was. This is NO, LA, not Indonesia, but, we can surely get aid, food, medicine, etc. to peole halfway around the world that suffer from serious disaster, quickly, can't we? We were at the site of the tsunami in, what, 2 or 3 days? Now I will say that residents of NO have some culpability in not being more prepared for something like that, especially since everyone knew it was only a matter of time. But the whole country watched while people died, babies starved and the flood waters rose and our government ran around and bumped into each other like it was some bad 3 stooges episode. Infuriating!!

gontek 11 years, 9 months ago

I worked in new orleans and baton rouge from October 05 to January 06 rebuilding after the storm.

I am still working on the recovery in some ways. Here are some links that show what the government and engineers have learned and how they are handling challenging engineering and NEPA compliance requirements in the rebuilding.

Of course it seems like a lot of government BS but there is really some interesting stuff in here, and believe me, these people take it very seriously.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

They're still finding bodies, as of a few weeks ago.

Street signs are still missing, with the streets themselves barely driveable.

Large swaths of New Orleans are still without power, clean drinking water, and dependable police protection.

Rebuilt houses sit next to collapsed dumps infested with rats and other vermin, because the owners are dead and the next of kin can't be located to decide what to do with the house.

So, uh, no I don't think the rebuilding efforts are being handled particularly well.

The screwups start at the top and go down through FEMA, LA State government, NO City government, all the way down to things like neighborhood associations. Pretty much, as far as I can tell, no one's hands are clean on this.

I'll say this for local government: they may be kind of loony and inept, but at least they're engaged and active and out there where people can see them trying to do something. What people seem most frustrated with regarding the federal government is the appearance of inaction and of not really caring. One New Orleans resident with whom I spoke was primarily upset because, "the US has spent more money to rebuild Baghdad than to rebuild New Orleans." I don't know if that's true or not, as I don't have the numbers, but I do know the federal government hasn't done a lot to overcome that perception.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

badger, it's probably easier for the local government to be active in the area because that's their sole responsibility. The federal government has to cover a lot more.

That is not to justify the mistakes of the federal government -- just to point out that that local government should seem more engaged and active in their area.

Trey Wiley 11 years, 9 months ago

My point was not to take the blame off the government (at all levels) but to point out that the government is notoriously bad at helping people rebuild.

My point was to steer the debate to something that might solve the problem instead of bickering back and forth about who is to blame. This finger pointing will not result in any changes or benefits to the people affected by this natural disaster.

Can our federal government solve the problems in N.O., no way. They can throw an enourmous amount of money at the problem and even put people on the ground to help administer resources but this will not repair anyones home.

I do not know if I would agree that it is even the governments responsibility to be the primary source of aid. When a tornado sweeps through Lawrence who is responsible for rebuilding my home? I do not think I will be blaming George or whoever is my next president.

I would like to see each of us look to what blame we can take on. What have we done to help the situation? Many people have helped but most have not.

gontek 11 years, 9 months ago

I will say that when I arrived in Baton rouge in Oct. 05 I worked 7 days a week on average 70 hours per week. When I went to work in New Orleans a month later I worked a 90 hour week.

Many engineers from my company and other comanies in the area left their destroyed homes to go to work. One of my bosses down there lived in his car for a week outside the SWB to working get the water distribution systems operational. Many of the SWB employees ecacuated or were otherwise incapicated. A lot of individuals stepped up to save a city they love. As my boss said, "there are those who got out and ran, and there are those who stepped up to fight to save their city."

I will admit there were a lot of people in St. Bernard and Orleans parish were not able to do so for one reason or another.

however unless you were there to see the scope of the damage on a daily basis it is easy to criticize the government or others. Ask yourself what you would do in this situation.

One guy I met had to swim though the sewage to retrieve an ax from his living room floor. He was stranded on his roof for days.

When a help came he found out they would have taken him to the convention center and he said "no thanks, I'd rather hang ot here on my roof."

There were many things that went wrong in the beginning, but I think in the end, you have to take care of youself. If you put all of your stock in the government to take care of you all the time, you are fooling youself. With Katrina, it was logistically impossible to do that, even with all of the governments resources.

shorewood 11 years, 9 months ago

People station KLWN is dropping the Ed Schultz Show....we can't let this happen. Ed is the only progressive radio talker in the area among many many right wing nuts....Contact KLWN immediately. Save ED.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

I'm still having a problem with that whole "below sea level" thing. Seriously, is it fiscally responsible or even wise to rebuild something that has to literally hold back the tides? Of course, I think Katrina was a tragedy. I do feel badly for the displaced people who just want to go back home. I watched an interview last night with a levee builder and they said that they've gotten about 5 years of work done in 1 year. Is that good or is that a rush job? Look how quickly the Berlin wall came down. (Yes, that's an analogy.) One thing I think is sure. Every dam or levee will fail at some point.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

This is less about Bush, FEMA or levees. This is about nature doing what it does. Storm surge combined with river flooding is bigger and stronger than a man-made levee. If they want to make that levee out of solid concrete, then maybe the city has a chance. I think N.O. should be either abondoned or relocated. Both sound impossible, but do we want to rebuild it every time this happens?

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

twiley said:

"I do not know if I would agree that it is even the governments responsibility to be the primary source of aid. When a tornado sweeps through Lawrence who is responsible for rebuilding my home? I do not think I will be blaming George or whoever is my next president."

Your home is one thing, and I agree you should be primarily responsible for it. What about the streets? The power lines? The sewage system? What about the water and gas lines? What about putting the street lights backup? What about restoring ambulance service to your neighborhood? Rebuilding the nearest fire station and replacing the destroyed trucks? What about the abandoned house two doors down, where the elderly residents were killed in the storm and left no children, relatives, or inheritors to take responsibility for the tree blocking the sidewalk and half the street?

That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. Overwhelmingly, the people I talk to here would love to go back to rebuild, but how do you rebuild when the utilities haven't been restored to the neighborhood yet? Do you dare to rebuild when there are no street lights or street signs, and police response time to the violent crimes in your neighborhood is fifteen minutes? Is it safe to rebuild when the houses on either side of you, homes of friends and neighbors lost to the floods or unable to afford to rebuild, harbor mold, rats, roaches, snakes, or feral dogs?

That's what I'm talking about, not people sitting around and expecting Uncle Sam to build them a new house.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

Sgtworlverine, I realize the feds have other priorities on their minds. But you'd think that since it was such a cosmic-level screw-up, such a collection of errors at all levels, that they'd make more of an effort to have been present and engaged. I think the people of the Gulf, not just New Orleans, deserve better than:

"The death toll in Louisiana from Katrina is close to 1,600, including nearly 300 who died in other states after fleeing from the hurricane.

In Jackson Square last year, Bush offered three proposals to help fight poverty. One idea carried out, the Gulf Opportunity Zone, is giving $8.7 billion in tax breaks to developers of low-income housing, small businesses and individuals.

But worker recovery accounts, meant to help victims find work by paying for school, job training and child care, didn't materialize. Neither did the Urban Homesteading Act that would have given poor people sites to build homes they would finance themselves or get through programs like Habitat for Humanity.

Only half of New Orleans has electricity. Half its hospitals are closed. Violent crime is up. Less than half the population has returned. Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers and mobile homes with no real timetable for moving to more permanent housing. Insurance settlements are mired in red tape. The city still has no master rebuilding plan. And while much debris has been cleared, some remains as if the clock stopped when the storm struck."

From the CNN article here:

And while the city bears the brunt of responsibility for getting services back up and running, a lot of people would like to know where those two programs geared towards helping people help themselves are. The program that helped developers and the business community most, it materialized remarkably well. But the programs that would have helped individuals find work and rebuild, they seem to be coming a little more slowly - or not at all.

Kontum1972 11 years, 9 months ago

one heck of a job heck of a job....and Hezbolla is handing out thousands of "american dollars" to its people so they can rebuild.... gee did they get access to american dollars...mb KBR, HALIBURTON, and PARSONS..CAN TAKE UP THE SLACK SINCE THEY ARE PULLING OUT OF IRAQ..!

gphawk89 11 years, 9 months ago

"Thousands of Katrina evacuees are without power and they say it's because nobody told them they needed to pay their electricity bills. Under a FEMA relief program, the government agreed to pay those bills for one year."

How long do these people think the government (i.e. taxpayers - ALL OF US) are going to pay their bills? Forever? I'm not against providing some support while they're recovering from something as terrible as this, but they're going to have to get cut off sooner or later. Come on, folks, get back on your feet and start contributing to society and taking care of yourselves again.

Ceallach 11 years, 9 months ago

My opinion of the effort is that it seems nothing can be done that will stop the whining and complaining. The "entitlement" virus is at plague level. We didn't rebuild that huge city within a year -- heads should roll!! But of course little or nothing should be expected of evacuees.

sun_sue posed one of the questions that I can't seem to get past myself . . why do we owe it to people to rebuild below sea level? That is not in anyway logical to me. How many of those still sitting on government assistance and are "looking for jobs" would be willing to go back to NO and work to clean up the mess. My guess -- very few! Instead they want to complain about their living conditions, when many are living better than they did before the disaster. Some evacuees will not be happy until they are moved back to NO into an accommodation that has been totally prepared (by others) for them to live in. There are exceptions but "exceptions" by it's definition are not the majority.

Also, considering that Houston's crime rate has spiked this last year, one cannot help but wonder if the fact that prior to Katrina, NO had a murder rate 8 times the national average doesn't have something to do with Houston's crime woes. Seems some of the evacuees are working at their old trade.

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 9 months ago

Bush is on tape saying the feds would be there if push came to shove. He andoned the situation then had the audacity to say he didn't know! Unbelievable!!! How his suporters rationalize his behavior is also unbelievable. If Floridians had to suffer the same lack of response, heads would roll. There is no excuse for the lack of response from the federal government. Period.

c_doc77 11 years, 9 months ago

This has become an excellent blog. I like to see imput, even if it's from O'Reilly wannabes and the like.

Consider this: the federal government actually stood to gain by not getting involved sooner. Someone made the point earlier that our government (including two former presidents) responded quickly to the tsunami, but when it came to a domestic hurricane they couldn't get anything going. Why? That's a good question. One possibility is that any time disaster strikes (ie 9/11) it becomes easier and easier to enforce martial law. That's exactly what happened in New Orleans, and that is what is happening incrementally on a national scale.

Nationally we are witnessing the suspension of the Constitution on a number of fronts. If you think you have freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to bear arms, freedom of religion, etc. in America today you are sadly mistaken. One of the questions Senator Biden asked now Justice Roberts in his confirmation hearing was his opinion on forcibly microchipping the population. What kind of strange Orwellian world do we live in that we even have to debate whether the government has the right to inject it's citizens with trackable microchips?

Every time there are disasters (either natural or man-made) people become more open to these kinds of ideas. Passports have already gained approval for RFID chips, as have national IDs which are concealed within driver's licenses.

And for all you Fox News talking heads, let me quote you before you post. "9/11 changed everything."

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

Welcome to the board HHHO (a.k.a. Fred Phelps). ROFLMAO! I think you're like the old Chinese proverb: "Man who stand on toilet is high on pot!"

bunnyhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't it make you wonder how a political party can prosper over the years by waving their bibles in our faces...............but every one of the SOBs seems to have forgotten the GOLDEN RULE:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I'm thinking they must have the King George translation:

Do unto others before they even think about doing unto you.

I'm over half a century old and I've never ever before been ashamed of my shame began the day W was elected and it has grown geometrically every day since.

acg 11 years, 9 months ago

Wow, who's the new bible thumper? S_S, you're going to burn in hell, girl, you better be ready for it. LOL. Save the rest of us a seat, would you?

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

acg, I paved my road to hell with golden bricks years ago. (Good intentions and all...) "Follow the yellow brick road..." c'mon Toto! Let's cast me as Dorothy (since I already have the red shoes, am lost most of the time, and I have the dog) Ms_C is obviously Glenda...good whitch of the North Scarecrow... Tin Man... Cowardly lion... Wicked Witch of the West... Flying Monkey...RI (too much resemblance) snicker Wizzard of Oz...OMB (wize and all knowing, also full of it and looks good in pleather) Mayor of Munchkinland...

casting call is now starting!

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

that should read "wise," which obviously, I am not!

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

oh I can be the Wicked Witch. Just ask my ex.

trinity 11 years, 9 months ago

can i be auntie em??? i live in the country&love to cook! :)

Kontum1972 11 years, 9 months ago

Va...Va....Voom...Hospitality Director...!

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

Is Happy Ho quoting the Bible, or just Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction?

I think one of the biggest problems with the recovery effort of New Orleans has been that the majority of clean-up and rebuilding contracts went to national firms (those that make large contributions to politicians) and not to local firms. There are no jobs, so how are people expected to pick up and rebuild for themselves? They lost everything - home, job, even loved ones. How is someone in this position meant to pay for building supplies, new furnishings, clothes, let alone food, when there are no jobs?

Why didn't more of the contracts go to local companies?

Add to this the role of activist judges ruling on the side of the big-monied insurance industry, making sure no money is given to those who lost everything. It all adds up to a truly sad situation.

But the conservative news media realizes that to question the misuse of funds by the feds and heavy-handed rulings in favor of the insurance industry would be to criticize their base, so it is just easier to point at the downtrodden. Those lazy bums who lost everything and have no way to regain what was lost until their are jobs in the area are the ones to blame for not having electricity and water. But oh no, it isn't in any way the fault of the feds. Gosh, no.

With regard to rebuilding, if a tornado rips through anywhere in the midwest, should it be rebuilt? It is in tornado alley, so there are many who would say no way. Same with San Francisco and earthquakes. Yet they do. The same will be true of New Orleans.

Finally, for all who say everyone should have left before the storm hit I ask you - do you lock yourself in the basement with each and every tornado warning? Probably not. Well, the same is true for people who grew up in the gulf coast. When you live in an area that has strong weather conditions, you get a false sense of security based on all the times the tornados threatened but didn't strike or hurricanes hit but didn't destroy. So you sit it out, hoping for the best, especially if you don't have anywhere to go or the means to take you there. When the worst happens, however, it is our duty as fellow Americans to help -- and we haven't done enough. Not by a long shot. And much of what we have done has been poorly managed.

Heck of a job, Mr. President, heck of a job.

ms_canada 11 years, 9 months ago

Glenda here, S_S but must say, I like wize better.

ms_canada 11 years, 9 months ago

I nominate ceallach for Mayor of Munchkinland and TOB for Scarecrow. Who will second that motion?

trinity 11 years, 9 months ago

i'll give ya a second, ms! :)

this could get real interesting, lol...

Ceallach 11 years, 9 months ago

Indeed! I'm feeling more than a little peckish today, can't be held responsible for any uncivilized bahavior that may occur:) Unlike the sunny disposition usually attributed to sunflowers -- Ceal is more closely related to war So I was branded from birth -- what is one to do?

Catch all y'all later!

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

Allah's will be done! Specially in Kansas. Does anybody know why computer users have dirty knees?

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

Cause, in these materialistic times in which we live, everybody on-line is trying to get ahead.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

Is m_e back??? Oh, no!

Gootsie, You did a perfect impression! I heard it just like the whitch said it and everything! How do you do that? Gave me goose bumps! ;)

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

Whatever happened to md? I always thought m_e got her scairt and ran her off. Maybe not.

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 9 months ago

Can I be a flying monkey? There are more than on. I dig primates, loved them since I was little kid.

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 9 months ago

M_E? What's his handle now? I got deleted for the first time yesterday. He would be proud.

Shane Garrett 11 years, 9 months ago

The local companies of New Orleans lost out as they #1 failed to leave New Orleans with all their equipment. #2 They did loose out to bigger companies at first. Large private companies were staging, while locals were leaving.
I know I have already made the list for the 2006 hurricane season. But I only work on gov. contracts. Some business above me contracts with the Corps of Engineers.

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

What they were chanting, actually, if you look up the lyrics, was "Oh weee loath the oooold one". Useless bit of trivia.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

Oh we ohhhh....Yooooda!

TOB, earlier I wasn't talking of e_m, who was a cool dude...but of m_e, who was an uncool dude. Oh, and I love the word "disappeareded." Is it OK if I use that? I'll give you full credit, of course. :o)

OMB, I keep trying to visit you but I can't remember if I turn at the rock that looks like a bear or the bear that looks like a rock...or something? Lost again!

thunderbuns 11 years, 9 months ago

Shorewood wrote: " station KLWN is dropping the Ed Schultz Show....we can't let this happen. Ed is the only progressive radio talker in the area among many many right wing nuts....Contact KLWN immediately. Save ED."

Hate to break it to ya shorewood, but there's a reason those so called "progressive" radio stations (a la "Airhead America" with Stewart Smalley) bite the dust: CUZ NO ONE LISTENS TO 'EM!!!!

Yo Bob: littlegreenfootballs website: been a viewer for a couple months now. It's most excellent! Don't miss it my friends!

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

OMB, that really made me chuckle! (I think Dorothy carried a handbasket.) Finally got Symantic up-to-date so I'm gonna hit the hay. Maybe I'll go thank that man who mowed my lawn today. (No, don't even ask me who that might be!)

Good night Bobs.

shorewood 11 years, 9 months ago

Thunderbuns wrote with crayons...Hate to break it to ya shorewood, but there's a reason those so called "progressive" radio stations (a la "Airhead America" with Stewart Smalley) bite the dust: CUZ NO ONE LISTENS TO 'EM!!!! ................ I wouldn't call KLWN a progressive station by any means...And the folks who listen to the motormouth wing nuts don't have a brain to understand how stupid and idiotic the right wing BS is....give me progressive radio and let me think anyday.........

thunderbuns 11 years, 9 months ago

hey shorewood:

Since it's a "no brainer" YOU should be able to figger this out: Radio stations cancel shows cuz no one listens to 'em! So take "anyday" and think about that! It will eventually come to ya! Maybe.

And I DON'T use crayons!

I couldn't find 'em.......

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