Source: APNew Orleans two years after KatrinaSun Aug 26, 2007 16:29
New Orleans two years after Katrina
Sun, 26 Aug 2007 06:44:37
Two years after Hurricane Katrina, much of New Orleans still lies in ruins with nearly half of the city's hospitals still closed.
The failure of federally funded, state-administered recovery programs to quickly take hold, and the city's struggle to define and fund plans for neighborhood redevelopment, have shaken confidence about New Orleans' short-term future.
Mayor Ray Nagin favors a "market-driven" recovery of the city. Critics say he has not made the tough decisions necessary to get planning for the city's future moving into high gear.
New Orleans still struggles with corruption. A congressman is under indictment, a senator has been implicated in a sex scandal and a city councilman thought to be a favorite as New Orleans' next mayor pleaded guilty in August to federal bribery charges and resigned.
There are geophysical challenges ahead, too. By 2015, parts of New Orleans will have subsided nearly an additional 8 inches. The city filled up like a bowl when Katrina broke levees on Aug. 29, 2005. Roughly 240 more square miles of the eroding wetlands that protect the city from storm surge will be gone by 2015.
If the Army Corps of Engineers has its way, and billions in federal funds don't get siphoned off by war or another natural disaster, those who remain should be better protected from flooding by 2015.
To the east, a massive levee-and-floodgate structure rising out of the brackish marsh should block the surge from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, or MR-GO.
To the north, new flood gates and pumping stations would prevent a surge from Lake Pontchartrain and prevent a repeat of the failures along the city's drainage canals.
The city's population will be smaller a decade after the storm. A recent estimate pegs the current population at around 270,000 - about 60% of the pre-Katrina total.
Rich Campanella, an urban geographer at Tulane, predicts that by 2015, the city's population will be somewhere around 350,000. Blacks will still outnumber whites, but the margin will be significantly less.
He and others agree the city's residents will be somewhat more affluent, the poor possibly being squeezed out by the increased expense of living in a hurricane zone.
Nearly half of the hospitals open in the parish before Katrina remain closed, and one is a shell of its former self. The remaining hospitals serving the city lost a combined USD 56m in the first five months of 2007, and the projected operating loss for the year is USD 135m, says Leslie Hirsch, who took over Touro Infirmary a week before Katrina.
If major changes aren't made, such as drastic increases in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, the city's hospitals will continue to hemorrhage money, says Hirsch, who worries there will be even fewer choices for care.
In the predominantly black Lower 9th Ward, the city's poorest neighborhood, streetlights are back on and water is flowing. But while there are houses being repaired here and there, and even some innovative solar power projects being instituted, there are vast stretches of empty, weed-choked lots and rooftops still covered in storm debris.
But in mostly white Lakeview, where water levels topped 10 feet in some areas, things are booming.
Harrison Avenue, the main business strip, is fairly buzzing with banks, restaurants, even a Starbucks. Medians once strewn with debris and rotting garbage are now blooming again with crepe myrtles.
Surveys show 47% of Lakeview residents have returned, and another 23% are working on their homes.
Crime remains rampant. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Police Department is still operating out of trailers, and the force continues to lose more officers to retirement and resignations than it can graduate from its academy.
Since Katrina, the oil industry has continued a shrinking that began in the 1980s. In November, Murphy Oil Corp. closed its New Orleans production office and shifted 100 employees to Houston. Chevron Corp. is building a new office across Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish and will move 500 workers from New Orleans later this year.
Former U.S. military commander says elites hide from humanity knowledge and contact with many Extraterrestrials civilizations
George W. Bush abandons Americans
Shocking delay in aid contrasts with 200 billion wasted in Iraq
President George W. Bush pays back the good Christian Americans who elected him despite his illegal act of slaughter in Iraq by sitting in his Texas ranch for two days after the most horrific suffering was visited on the area around New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
After two hundred billion dollars were spent in destabilising Iraq,
slaughtering up to one hundred thousand innocent civilians, blasting the
legs and arms off defenceless children and leaving the country and region in utter chaos, the best he can do is a brief flyover of the region and a belated visit, hurriedly put together only because of the protests.
And the protests are many, and venomous and rightly so. How is it possible that in a country which is always blowing its horn about how advanced it is, that people are starving to death? Is this Somalia? No, it is George Bush's United States of America.
How is it possible that young children are dying of thirst. Is this Mali? No, it is George Bush's United States of America.
How is it possible that people are having to scavenge for food. Is this
Burkina Faso? No, it is George Bush's United States of America.
So, this is how President George Bush treats the people who put their trust in him. After siphoning off 200 billion USD of their hard-earned cash to finance his illegal act of butchery overseas, he turns his back on them, leaves them to wallow in the sewage, to lie rotting in the streets and to starve to death.
Welcome to George Bush's United States of America. It appears the man is as inept at governing his own country as he is at conducting foreign policy. George W. Bush will go down in the annals of history as the worst president this country has ever had and the worst leader the international community is unfortunate enough to have been forced to rub shoulders with.
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