Katrina, two years later

The French Quarter, relatively untouched by hurricane Katrina, is bustling, and businesses are being courted to New Orleans, but a good deal of the rest of the city and the Gulf region remain devastated. Awash in corruption, cronyism and incompetence, the reconstruction effort is a mess. Billions of money designated to the effort is not getting to those in need — 42% of funds set aside for rebuilding and relief has not even been spent. The federal H2B “guestworker” visa program was set up for employers to hire people for the rebuilding effort. Because of the lack of oversight, abuse of workers, kidnapping and even modern-day slavery is occuring on the Gulf Coast.

To get a true sense of what it is like two years later, go to Voices from the Gulf from ColorofChange.org — unvarnished video perspectives from the region.

The Institute for Southern Studies has published Blueprint for Gulf Renewal: The Katrina Crisis and a Community Agenda for Action.

On September 15, 2005, President Bush pledged that our nation would “do what it takes, and stay as long as it takes,” to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Yet over 60,000 people are still in “temporary” FEMA trailers, and houses, hospitals and schools across the region remain shuttered. For thousands of people, the Katrina recovery has failed.

The study, published in collaboration with Oxfam America and the Jewish Funds for Justice, looks at 80 statistical indicators and draws on interviews with more than 40 Gulf Coast leaders to identify roadblocks to recovery, and ways federal leaders can tackle critical needs in the region like housing, jobs and coastal protection.

The study also features “Where did the Katrina money go?” — an in-depth analysis of federal Katrina spending since 2005. The Institute reveals that, out of the $116 billion in Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards long-term rebuilding — and less than half of that 30% has been spent, much less reached those most in need.

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