Took the weekend off to just relax and visit friends. And the world got along with out me blogging, darn! :)
Michael Brown got up in front of a commitee to declare it wasn't it his fault what happened with Katrina. As a friend pointed out, when he said he had to go direct to President Bush for things he bolixed any chance of Homeland Security, FEMA, and local authorities being coordinated. By his going back channel constantly, he engendered distrust which destroys teamwork. So Michael Brown is still culpable. Along with Ray Nagin for failing to follow evacuation plans and Kathleen Blanco for her unwillingness to surrender control until Katrina forced her hand, at which time it was too late to matter.
As for reconstruction. New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen as the city issues building permits before finalizing recovery plans. While the state government's first step towards mis-managing the recovery happened when they allocated money to building fairgrounds versus moving the money to rebuilding New Orleans. As for the mansion re-do, I think that contract had been let before Katrina and to break that contract would have caused penalties charged against the government, so they had to go ahead with it. They should have asked the contractor if the remodeling could have been delayed a few months but still go ahead with it. When Pakistan suffered the recent earthquake, Pakistan and the US put off the delivery of more F-16s to Pakistan while that country sorted itself out and get the affected people taken care of. That is what Louisiana should have done.
On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, some areas won't be rebuilt for years as the municipalities rebuild the infrastructure from scratch, like sewage and water lines. Houses that, before Katrina, sold for $150,000 now sell for double that. And FEMA blue is still a common roofing color as the cities and citizens keep cleaning up. On a bright side, some of the casinos have opened for business.
Let me mention some of the images that stuck in my mind when I took a tour just before Thanksgiving of the beach area. The two Catholic churches in Long Beach and Pass Christian were over twelve feet above sea level, they were both gutted by Katrina's storm surge. Imagine about the first ten feet of wall simply not there; all that is seen are chairs, a few pews, and structural beams; while above ten feet the sloping white walls both churches are known for continue unmarred till they reach their peaks. In Gulfport where 49 meets 90 the large brick Baptist church has its entire brick facade facing the beach stripped away. The lower floor of the Harrison County Library was also washed out. Back in Pass Christian there were two multi-story condos side by side just north of 90 facing the Mississippi Sound. The wave action had broken apart the reinforced concrete until it was chunks of concrete being held together by rebar and it dangled down from the second floor. While the beach near the Pass Christian harbor was scallopped into these huge ripples at least a foot tall. There were cars that washed atop of other cars. The surge carried a shrimping boat over a block inland in Pass Christian, while also in that town where a bank stood a block inland all that is left is the vault. While still stuck in trees where ripped shrimping nets, insulation, and clothing. The reconstruction continues.