February 9, 2009

I'm just flabbergasted. Knowing the extent of the damage down there, why on earth would we not be pushing to get it done? Unless, of course, this is yet another example of Disaster Capitalism and we're trying to get what's left of the inhabitants to leave and sell the land to rich people:

WASHINGTON — A massive effort to fix public works destroyed more than three years ago by the Gulf Coast hurricanes remains largely stalled, leaving more than $3.9 billion in federal aid unspent and key repairs far from complete.

The scale of that job is enormous. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has promised $5.8 billion to repair everything from flooded libraries and schools to sewer systems and roads that were ruined when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita obliterated huge sections of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005.

Nearly 3½ years after those storms hit, new FEMA accounting reports show two-thirds of the money to pay for permanent rebuilding work still has not been spent, the latest bottleneck in a recovery long beset by criticism that it has been too slow and inefficient. And despite a handful of high-profile successes, officials who had vowed to speed up the pace of repairs concede it is still going far more slowly than it should.

"I think it can go better. That's almost obvious," says James Stark, who runs FEMA's recovery effort in the region. "Public safety, health and education are critical. That's not proceeding as quickly as I think many people in southeast Louisiana would want." Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered the agency to take a "fresh look" at those roadblocks. Its first report is due Tuesday.

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