Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive and costly natural disaster in United States history. The storm took thousands of lives, devastated entire communities, and left the American people with little confidence that the U.S. government can protect its citizens from harm.

Although the government’s response was slow and completely inappropriate, the American people came together in an unprecedented display of unity. Communities and business all across the country donated supplies, citizens flocked to the Gulf Coast region to help with recovery, and people opened their own churches, community centers, and homes to take in evacuees that were left with nothing. Arkansas alone opened its doors to 15,000 evacuees, of which 4,000 still remain to this day.

As we reflect on the one year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, it is clear there is much work to be done.

  • Thousands of families are still waiting for FEMA trailers.
  • An estimated 11 percent of the $19 billion that FEMA spent –or $2 billion – has been waste, fraud and abuse.
  • 80 percent of Gulf Coast businesses with approved SBA disaster loans are still waiting to get their loans.
  • The Republican Congress didn’t enact needed housing money for homeowners in Louisiana until June, 10 months after Katrina – and the money has still failed to reach these homeowners.
  • Only three of the 10 acute-care hospitals in New Orleans have re-opened; the only public hospital, Charity, has still not re-opened.
  • Only 56 of the 128 public schools in New Orleans are enrolling students this fall.

The citizens of the Gulf Coast region deserve a change from the failed promises of last year. They deserve a government that will do everything in its power to ensure a quick recovery. Let this anniversary strengthen our commitment to real security and inspire our community and elected leaders to work together for the common good until the Gulf Coast comes alive again and confidence is restored in the power of the U.S. government.