Guest blogged by Winter Patriot
I have three Katrina-related items for you, from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Greg Palast, respectively.
“It’s amazing, isn’t?” he told a gathering under a sweltering sun. “It’s amazing what the world looked like then and what it looks like now.”
Mr. Bush delivered his remarks at an intersection in a working-class Biloxi neighborhood against a carefully orchestrated backdrop of neatly reconstructed homes. Just a few feet out of camera range stood gutted houses with wires dangling from interior ceilings. A tattered piece of crime scene tape hung from a tree in the field where Mr. Bush spoke. A toilet seat lay on its side in the grass.
On a recent morning when every stool in the place was taken and patrons spilled out the door, the first thing diners heard from a waitress wasn't a list of breakfast specials, but an apology: "No coffee. No water pressure," she said.
In more than a dozen visits over the past year to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Bush has relentlessly praised the region's recovery, which he put under the care of Don Powell, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Mr. Powell says cargo handling at the port of New Orleans has returned to prestorm levels, the region's oil-and-gas industry has recovered, and its tourist trade is on a steady if slow upswing. Mr. Powell also notes that a metropolitan area that lost 81,000 businesses and 220,000 jobs can't recover overnight. "I don't know how you describe this devastation --- biblical? I'm not sure," he said. "But the basics of this region's economy --- the port, tourism, energy --- every one of them are back. People say, 'You're slow,' and I say, 'Compared to what?'"
But a drive through New Orleans underscores how much work remains. Though Louisiana officials say 90% of businesses in the region have reopened, the recovery is uneven. Most national retail outlets, groceries and fast-food restaurants remain closed while their parent companies assess the local market. Whole sections of the city, such as eastern New Orleans, are ghost towns. Mr. Powell attended a ribbon-cutting last week at a Home Depot store in St. Bernard Parish, but the community has perhaps one-tenth of its prestorm population.
Mr. Powell and President Bush have touted the $110 billion that Congress appropriated to assist Gulf Coast rebuilding, but only a sliver of the money has reached the region.
Greg Palast: HURRICANE EXPERT THREATENED FOR PRE-KATRINA WARNINGS
It wasn’t the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. The killing was done by a deadly duo: a failed emergency evacuation plan combined with faulty levees. Behind these twin failures lies a tale of cronyism, profiteering and willful incompetence that takes us right to the steps of the White House.
Here’s the story you haven’t been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it.
Please read all of it.