Saturday, October 01, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XXIV

Most of today's Katrina postings after the first 3-4 come straight from If you're already monitoring that outlet, there won't be much new. As Katrina fades from national interest, there should be less frequent postings from here on out devoted to Katrina...

1) Katrina Tribute -- turn your speakers up.

2) Able to laugh again:

You have FEMA's number on your speed dial.
You have more than 300 C and D batteries in your kitchen drawer.
Your pantry contains more than 20 cans of Spaghetti Os.
You are thinking of repainting your house to match the plywood covering your windows.
When describing your house to a prospective buyer, you say it has three bedrooms, two baths and one safe hallway.
Your SSN isn't a secret, it's written in Sharpie on your arms.
You are on a first-name basis with the cashier at Home Depot.
You are delighted to pay only $3 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
The road leading to your house has been declared a No-Wake Zone.
You decide that your patio furniture looks better on the bottom of the pool.
You own more than three large coolers.
You can wish that other people get hit by a hurricane and not feel the least bit guilty about it.
Three months ago you couldn't hang a shower curtain; today you can assemble a portable generator by candlelight.
You catch a 13-pound redfish in your driveway.
You can recite from memory whole portions of your homeowner's and flood insurance policies.
You consider a "vacation" to stunning Tupelo, Mississippi.
At cocktail parties, women are attracted to the guy with the biggest chainsaw.
You have had tuna fish more than 5 days in a row.
There is a roll of tar paper in your garage (if you still have a garage).
You can rattle off the names of the meteorologists who work for the Weather Channel.
Someone comes to your door to tell you they found your roof.
Ice is a valid (and deeply interesting) topic of conversation.
Your "drive-thru" meal consists of MRE's and bottled water.
Relocating to South Dakota does not seem like such a crazy idea.
You spend more time on your roof than in your living room.
You've been laughed at over the phone by a roofer, fence builder or a tree worker.
A battery powered TV is considered a home entertainment center.
You don't worry about relatives wanting to visit during the summer.
Your child's first words are "hunker down" and you didn't go to UGA.
Having a tree in your living room does not necessarily mean it's Christmas.
Toilet Paper is elevated to "coin of the realm" at the Red Cross shelter.
You know the difference between the "good side" of a storm and the "bad side."
Your kids start school in August and finish in July.
You go to work early and stay late just to enjoy the air conditioning.

3) Future of New Orleans, articles:

Whether rebuilding a home or the city itself, questions abound
By Gordon Russell, Meghan Gordon and Jeffrey MeitrodtStaff writers

When floodwaters laid waste to Dennis Terry’s Lakeviewtownhouse, his first few steps were obvious ones:Recover anything worth saving. Call the insurancecompany. Call the Federal Emergency Management Agency.Wait for a check to arrive – hopefully one thatreflects the home’s true value.

Now, though, Terry faces a labyrinth of more complexdecisions. So do tens of thousands of owners ofuninhabitable homes across a swath of New Orleans andits environs.

Terry’s biggest questions: Can he rebuild? Should he?And if he does, will he have to build a home that isless vulnerable to flooding than the one that was lostin Hurricane Katrina’s brutal aftermath?

“Getting a real answer on anything is very difficultat this point,” Terry said. People want the
rebuildingprocess to get going, he said, but “we don’t even knowwhen it’s going to start.”

State Rep. Peppi Bruneau, whose Lakeview home wasdestroyed, said he’s just as stymied as his neighborsby the lack of information. Like them, he wants toknow whether the land will be elevated, whether newhouses will have to be built on piers, and whether thelevee system will be sufficient to prevent anotherwipe-out.
“You’re now finding out how little information we havebeen able to get out of city government,” Bruneausaid. “Ask one of the councilmen and you’re going toget the same answer. You’re not getting anyinformation from the mayor’s office. I know he’sinundated; I’m not blaming him. But these areexecutive decisions.”

To some extent, the questions posed by Terry andothers in his predicament can’t yet be answered.

Localofficials are just beginning to grapple with thechallenges posed by rebuilding the most devastatedparts of the city, ranging from Lakeview to the Lower9th Ward to St. Bernard Parish.

They must decide whether it’s wiser to rebuild inflood-prone areas or whether it makes more sense toturn some areas into green space. In areas in whichrebuilding is certain, they’ll have to decide whatkind of flood protection they want.

Will planners write new building codes, similar tothose in coastal areas of Florida, that require homesto be more hurricane proof? Will they bring in tons ofdirt aimed at raising the elevations of certainneighborhoods, or require building materials that areless prone to flood damage, such as concrete?

No matter what local officials decide, most homeownerswhose properties sustained heavy flood damage will beforced to meet current building requirements for thefirst time. Thousands of homes will have to be raisedor torn down and rebuilt at higher elevations in orderto meet zoning codes that were first created in theearly 1970s – well after most properties in the areawere erected.

Federal officials say the magnitude of the rebuildingprocess may actually work in the city’s behalf.
“One of the concerns we always have after is a floodis people rush in to rebuild,’’ FEMA spokesman EdPasterick said. “And in a lot of cases, the communitydoesn’t grab hold of the process like they should. Butif you have a larger event, you are much moreconscious of limiting the damage next time. That iscertainly going to happen in New Orleans.’’

Like communities all across the United States, NewOrleans passed laws in the 1970s requiring new homesto be at or above the level designated on the federalflood maps. But the older homes that dominate thecityscape were exempted from the new requirements.Katrina has changed all that.

Any house that sustained damage estimated at 50percent or more of its value will have to be broughtinto compliance with the rules or face much higherpremiums, FEMA spokesman Ed Pasterick said. It will beup to local building inspectors, who may receiveadvice from the feds, to make those calls.

A homeowner who rebuilds in violation of thefloodplain maps might pay more than $2,000 a year fora policy that used to cost $350, officials said. Localcommunities that fail to enforce the rules can alsoface sanctions from FEMA.

Huge numbers of homeowners will be forced to come intocompliance with the stricter elevation standards. Of256,000 homes covered by federal flood insurance inthe seven-parish metropolitan area, more than 155,000stand at elevations that are too low to protect themfrom a 100-year-flood, according to data supplied byFEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.

While no one knows exactly how many properties wereflooded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, about140,000 flood claims had been filed in Louisiana evenbefore Rita, Pasterick said, mostly in and around NewOrleans.

And that number doesn’t account for the thousands ofhomes that lack flood insurance. Overall, federalofficials estimate that only about 41 percent of thehomes in metropolitan area carry flood protection,despite the area’s propensity to flood.

According to Phil Huffman of the HomebuildersAssociation of Greater New Orleans, Katrina damaged atotal of 360,000 homes in the New Orleans area, ofwhich half may need to be totally rebuilt. How muchmoney homeowners will receive is an open question: Themaximum flood payout under federal rules is $250,000,a cause of consternation for owners of houses thatwould cost more than that to replace.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal said he expects a consensuswill form by next week on a legislative initiative toassist homeowners whose losses are greater than thecoverage provided by their flood insurance or theirprivate insurer. With so much wealth lost so suddenly,Jindal is concerned that the extensive home damagewill result in a raft of bankruptcies. There might bea way for insurers along with the federal and stategovernments to share the responsibility, he said.

Meanwhile, state Attorney General Charles Foti islooking into a lawsuit against insurance companies toforce them to cover flood damages, much as MississippiAttorney General Jim Hood did two weeks after Katrina.But Foti is hoping a solution can be found that wouldavert a costly and time-consuming lawsuit, hisspokeswoman said.

Though many homeowners now feel they’re getting theshort end of the stick, Pasterick said many haveactually paid unrealistically cheap flood premiums foryears because their properties were grandfathered.Most local communities didn’t impose elevationrequirements on new home construction until the early1970s.

Those whose homes were damaged but not destroyed byfloodwaters will have other options, although housesthat incurred substantial damage will have to beraised above the flood plain.

Take the case of David Cressy, Mandeville’s cityattorney. Cressy’s 140-year-old home on the lakefrontwas inundated with 5 feet of water from Katrina’sstorm surge, making it uninhabitable. Many of Cressy’sneighbors with homes on 10-foot stilts fared muchbetter.

“They lost some stuff, but not their house,’’ Cressysaid. “That’s what convinced me that I’ve got to raisemine.”
Doing so will be expensive: Cressy will have to raisehis floor levels by 11 feet. So far, the cheapestestimate he’s gotten is $50,000, and that didn’tinclude a foundation, which he hopes to add.

“It’s probably going to cost me $100,000,’’ Cressysaid. “But I’m going to do it. I’m not going throughthis again. This is crazy.’’

Cressy won’t have to pay the entire tab. WayneBerggren, Mandeville’s flood plain manager, saidCressy’s is among 30 to 40 homes in Mandeville thatqualify for a little-known benefit called “increasedcost of compliance coverage” through their federalflood insurance policies.

Under the program, a property owner is eligible for upto $30,000 in grants if the cost to repair the home is50 percent or more of the building’s “pre-damagemarket value.’’

The money is not subject to the overall cap of $26,200that covers other FEMA grants. However it is subjectto the $250,000 maximum payout for structural damageunder federal flood insurance. Most homes have lesscoverage.

In the New Orleans area, the government will probablywind up handing out more than $1 billion in suchgrants, based on The Times-Picayune’s analysis offlood-policy data.

The projection that up to half of the 360,000 homesdamaged in the New Orleans area will have to betotally rebuilt, raises the specter of wholesaledemolitions, a specter that concerns New Orleans MayorRay Nagin.
“Most of the experts are telling us that any housethat was in flood waters for a couple of weeks wherethe water was above their (electrical) outlets, isprobably a property that is going to be very difficultto renovate,” New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said. “All Iknow is that in some areas, houses will be demolishedin significant numbers.”

But not without the owner being fully in the loop."There’s this myth out there that we will start thesedemolitions en masse before people get a chance to assess and weigh in. We won’t do that,” Nagin said.
Preservationists fear a rush to judgment, with homes,including some in historic areas, getting torn downwithout much review.

“We get concerned when we read that there seems to bean assumption that the slate will be wiped clean inmany areas,” said Stephanie Bruno, director of thePreservation Resource Center’s Operation Comeback.“That sounds like the kind of approach they’re taking.Our approach would be more of a case-by-case basis.”

Bruno said many homes that are heavily damaged can befixed.

“The term ‘beyond repair’ is very subjective,” shesaid. “Even buildings that are structurallycompromised can be repaired if there’s a will to dothat.”

Meg Lousteau of the Louisiana Landmarks Society echoedBruno’s comments after touring parts of the city.“From what I saw, except for buildings that hadactually collapsed, I haven’t seen a single buildingthat needs to be torn down,” she said.

Even structures that are choked with mold can befixed, Lousteau said. “Mold can be dealt with withouttearing down the whole structure, especially in olderhouses,” she said. “I just hope people can get pastthe grossness of what they see when they first walkinto their homes. It’s going to be overwhelming andpainful, but the truth is, the damage is superficialin a lot of cases. You can rip out the Sheetrock andthe wiring.”

Lousteau said she also worries that insuranceadjusters may recommend demolition because of a beliefthat starting fresh will be cheaper.

Both Lousteau and Bruno were especially concernedabout the future of the Holy Cross neighborhood, thesection of the Lower 9th Ward that lies between theMississippi River and St. Claude Avenue, which isdesignated as a historic district locally andnationally. While the area flooded badly, it drainedquickly, they said, and most of the homes there aresalvageable.

Bruno said the PRC will be offering its services topeople looking to rebuild, or sell.

“We see ourselves helping to publicize tax breaks, loans and grants to help people see what’s out there,”she said. “And if they want to take their insurancecheck and move to Pennsylvania, helping them find away of disposing of property and getting it into thehands of someone who does want to renovate.”

As thousands of individual homeowners try to figureout their next move, a free-spirited debate about howto rebuild the city and its environs on a big-picturelevel has already begun to develop.

Federal officials, ranging from FEMA leaders to U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development secretaryAlphonso Jackson, have emphasized that most keydecisions will be up to local officials.
Nagin on Friday named the 17 members of a blue-ribbonpanel that will serve in an advisory role onrebuilding efforts. The City Council, not to beoutdone, is establishing a similar body. And Gov.Kathleen Blanco has set up her own rebuilding team.

Jackson, of HUD, said he has encouraged the mayor tohold a “charette” led by architects, engineers andurban planners to brainstorm ideas for how to rebuildthe city the right way.

In addition, a five-member panel appointed by theAmerican Planning Association and contracted by FEMAwill provide input. They include city planners fromFort Worth, Texas; Pittsburgh; Tampa, Fla.; andChicago. Grover E. Mouton III, who teaches urbandesign at Tulane University, is the group’s sole NewOrleanian.

Yolanda Rodriguez, director of the City PlanningCommission, said she expects her agency will take alead role in making decisions using therecommendations turned in by the various groups.

One of FEMA’s roles will be to help the community“understand that maybe some of the decisions that weremade in the past are ones they don’t want to makeagain,” Pasterick said. “After every storm everybodyrevisits the wisdom of how things were built before.Maybe you’re not going to rebuild in certain areas, ormaybe there are some areas you won’t want to developagain and turn into park land. But those are all localdecisions.”

Even so, the feds will have a major role to play,because nearly all of the billions in aid pouring intothe area comes from the federal government. Ofparticular importance will be the decisions on howlevees and floodwalls are rebuilt. So far, the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers has pledged only to restorelevees to their pre-Katrina size, designed to handle aCategory 3 hurricane. But local officials are lobbyingfor floodwalls to withstand a Category 5 storm.

St. Bernard Parish is looking for similar help. JoeyDiFatta, president of the St. Bernard Parish Council,said the parish has asked the Corps to raise leveesthere to 25 feet - 8 feet higher than they were whenKatrina hit.
State Sen. Walter Boasso, R-Chalmette, said homeownersdon’t have the two keys they need to decide whether tostart over in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.

“To talk about revitalization is useless until youknow: Are our levees going to be properly done andsecured? Are we going to be able to buy insurancethat’s affordable?” Boasso said. “This is the mixedmessage that we have to get straightened out. We’re inlimbo, because it all boils down to levees andinsurance.”
Experts and residents have already weighed in. Somesaid the massive task of rebuilding entire New Orleansneighborhoods would likely become the largest casestudy of its kind, with countless opportunities fortriumphs and failures.

“This is the biggest planning challenge any of us islikely to have occur during our professional careers,”said Rob Olshansky, a professor of urban planning atUniversity of Illinois and an expert on rebuildingcities after natural disasters. “It’s all there.”Some gut-wrenching decisions lie ahead.

“We have to look at the fact we have marshland andreclaimed lake bottoms that we built on, that wefilled in,” said City Councilwoman Cynthia HedgeMorrell, who represents Gentilly and parts of theLakefront. “And we’ve got to evaluate how safe that’sgoing to be. Maybe we shouldn’t have built there?“We have to face up to the fact that we’re a coastalcity. And we need to take a hard look at what they do in other places. We sit smack dab between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River and we buildout homes on slabs. How stupid are we?”

Hedge Morrell noted, in comments echoed by fellowcouncil members, that other communities ruined byhurricanes, such as Homestead, Fla., rebuiltintelligently.

“They knew it was wind damage that really hurtHomestead so they came up with a plan so houses builtnow, they have to tie the roofs into a cement wall,”she said. “In our case, we have to look at what isactually the (elevation) level we need to rebuild on.”

The city needs to give people clear instructions tokeep them safe, Hedge Morrell said “We’re going to tell you what the height has to be in terms of filling in,” she said. “We’re going to tell you what type of materials you have to use, because evidently the structures we had let people build in that area on slabs couldn’t handle what happened.”

Kristina Ford, director of the city planningcommission from 1992 to 2000 and now a professor ofenvironmental studies at Bowdoin College, saiddecision-makers should consider radical ideas forresurrecting demolished areas, including ones thatwere unthinkable before Katrina.

For example, she said residents from the Lower 9thWard perhaps could be relocated to one of the city’shigher ridges. Their old neighborhood could be used ina way that doesn’t put lives at risk, as headquartersfor the public works department or as a place to storebuses and other rolling stock that can be moved tohigher ground ahead of a storm.

Once leaders decide whether to relocate or fill inparts of the city, Ford doesn’t doubt that smartdevelopers will surface with design proposals toreplicate the “jumble” of styles present in most cityneighborhoods.
“I see houses that are maintained to differentdegrees, I see gardens that are maintained todifferent degrees,” Ford said of her mind’s-eye viewof New Orleans. “One of the things that I would lookfor would be a design that very quickly would revealindividual enthusiasm of individual residents. …Anything monolithic can, if it’s designed well, lookless monolithic.”

Bruneau said nobody in Lakeview would sit by whiledevelopers built “condo world.” While he wouldn’t support mandatory style codes, Bruneau believes that individual owners would each rebuild their own piece of the hodgepodge of bungalows, ranch houses, “McMansions” and townhouses that filled the neighborhood.
“How do we rebuild a city that is so complicated, andinterestingly so?” Ford said. “There will be animpulse to do this completely rationally, then we’llend up with something that has none of New Orleans’quality. One of the charms of New Orleans was theirrationality.”

While Katrina’s swath of devastation is unprecedentedin modern American history, the experiences of othercommunities after disasters could be instructive – forinstance, the flood that swamped Tulsa, Okla., in1984.

After the flood, which killed 14 people and inundated6,800 homes and businesses, the city earned a 40percent discount on flood insurance for its residentsby taking aggressive action to limit future damage.
After completing more than $100 million in floodmitigation projects, Tulsa became the first – and only– city to earn a Class 2 rating under the government’sCommunity Rating System. The measures included theacquisition of more than 1,000 flood-prone propertiesand the preservation of more than a quarter of thecity’s flood plain as green space.

By contrast, New Orleans is a Class 8 community, whichentitles its residents to a 10 percent discount onflood insurance. The highest ratings in Louisiana arein Jefferson and East Baton Rouge parishes, which havea “7” rating, earning residents there a 15 percentdiscount.

A disaster more comparable to Katrina was theearthquake that leveled Kobe, Japan, in 1994,destroying 150,000 homes and damaging another 450,000.Olshansky, who just completed a yearlong study of itand other post-disaster rebuilding projects, saidofficials there used all sorts of programs tojumpstart public and private developments in a 10-yearreconstruction. One key was to build temporary housingclose to the city for the 310,000 people in emergencyshelters — something New Orleans hasn’t yet pulledoff.

“If you want to rebuild New Orleans, you’ve got to getthose people back there,” he said. Olshansky said New Orleans could benefit from hiring professional planners to advocate for each neighborhood, as Kobe did to ensure that displaced residents would return to a neighborhood that fit their needs.

New Orleanians should also prepare for the depressionKobe residents encountered well into reconstructingtheir city, Olshansky said.

“For a couple of years it seems hopeless and it seemslike it’s never going to end,” he said. “The project just seems overwhelming, but they got through it, and other places got through it. … A year from now, things are going to look really bad and, ‘It’s a year later,’ and ‘Oh my God, we haven’t gotten anything done.’ It’s going to take a long time.”

Leverne and Elwood Fleming of eastern New Orleans knowthey’ll have to be in for a long haul if they want toget back to their old life on Trapier Avenue, wherethey worked, lived and socialized.

“I would like to see them do something to rebuild theeast; I just don’t know what kind of timeline theyhave,” Leverne Fleming said after seeing their ruinedhome covered in mildew and mud. “I don’t know how longwe can wait this out, because sooner or later we’regoing to have to make a decision.”

Terry faces the same frustrating wait as he and hisfamily hold off on rebuilding their Lakeview townhousewhile the future of the city is debated. He said hehopes the process doesn’t stretch on so long that hisfamily has to make a permanent home hundreds of milesfrom Lakeview.

“I’ve thought about living elsewhere to a degree, Ihave, but would I want to?” Terry said. “My wife and Idiscuss it, our way of life. I want it back. I loveNatchitoches to death, but it’s not home.”

--Staff writers Frank Donze, Jeff Duncan and RobertTravis Scott contributed to this story.

4) NO Future Article II:

Returning New Orleanians ponder city's future
By Brian ThevenotStaff writer

Kappa Horn shook her hips to “New Orleans Funk” as shepresided over a grill full of hamburgers -- the onlymenu item of the day at her nearly reopened MagazineStreet breakfast joint.

Going to … get back!

Going to … get back!

“This the best album in the world,” she told hungryand thrilled-to-be-home customers, as officialresettlement of New Orleans’ east bank began late lastweek.

Horn had just returned to open Slim Goody’s after adepressing stay in Baton Rouge. But there were momentsof pure beauty, too. Greasy spatula in hand, she toldof watching the Dirty Dozen Brass Band play in BatonRouge.

They kicked into “Do Watcha Wanna,” the brass-bandstandard that bumps like a New Orleans anthem toanyone who has wiggled and giggled with friends andstrangers in the city’s world-famous music halls.The room exploded, just like at home.

Then, Horn said, “somebody whispered in my ear, ‘Well,You can’t kill that.’”

No indeed. New Orleans will not die. For true.

But that begs a question that many New Orleanians arealready beginning to grapple with: When the city getsback on its feet, what sort of place will – or should– it be?

The question is already provoking spirited discussionamong returnees, if only as a diversion from moreimmediate anxieties, such as where to live and how tomake a living.

Many said their thoughts alternate between visions ofNew Orleans’ grand opportunity to wash away its severeproblems and concern that its legendary charactercould get watered down in the process. Issues of race,class, politics and the fragile social fabric ofneighborhoods weigh on their minds even as they beginto piece back together their damaged homes andbusinesses.

At Slim Goody’s, chills ran up the spine of MatthewRatcliff, 33, as Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief” cameon the juke box. He worked as a cook at Cobaltrestaurant before the storm. They’re paying him foranother three months. After that, who knows? But he’slooking for another job – anything – in the meantime.“I’ve just been so stir-crazy,” he said. “Even if it’sminimum wage, it’ll keep me from drinking all thetime. Try staying in Little Rock, Arkansas, for amonth. That’ll make you nuts.”

A few minutes later, Horn explained to customers thatshe had to reduce the menu to hamburgers only becauseshe has no one for food prep. Ratcliff asked if she’dtake him on.

“Show up at 8,” she said.

Just like that, at least one man’s economy switchedback on.

“Perfect, I can walk to work,” Ratcliff said.Asked the question many are asking -- how will thecity look in the next three to five years? -- Ratcliffsaid he believed a corps of die-hards, many withoutchildren, would form a base of rebuilders in asomewhat smaller city.

“It’s a transient city anyway, but the hard cores aregoing to be back. All my friends are coming back.People with families and kids may not. I think the25-to-40 crowd is going to make up the bulk ofpopulation,” said Ratcliff, who is single. “Thesepeople are realizing they’re spoiled on New Orleans.It took me three or four weeks out of town to realizeI couldn’t live anywhere else.”

On Napoleon Avenue, a couple, both doctors, inspectedtheir spacious home near the corner of SaratogaStreet.

“We think the city’s going to be great,” said DawnGalliano, as she worked with her husband Dante,inspecting the moderate looting and water damage.Asked why, she hesitated. “I don’t want to say,” shesaid.

Dante put the matter diplomatically, but his messagewas clear: Fewer poor people.

“I think there’s going to be so much businessdevelopment in the lower economic areas, in theproject areas,”
he said.

Near Napoleon Avenue and Magazine Street, WalterMarschner of Jefferson Parish Appraisal Service made astop at one of the many homes he has inspected fordamage. He speculated that the city would lose bothrich and poor people, but ultimately come out more ofa middle-class town – a good thing, he said.

“What I’m hearing is that a lot of people aren’tcoming back,” he said. “We have a lot of people at thebottom of the barrel, attending New Orleans publicschools, on welfare. They have nothing going for them.A lot of these people have been transported to Dallasand Houston and Shreveport and all over. What they’refinding there is that you can buy a 1,000-square-foothouse (in Shreveport) for $40,000, that there arebetter schools, and that people are welcoming themin.”

Marschner said he believes that poor New Orleanianswho have been dispersed to other places may help boththemselves and the city.

“This may sound mean and rotten, but if we can get ridof 100,000 of the lower class that are takers and notgivers to the community, we’ll be much better off,”said Marschner, who is white. “That might soundracist, but I don’t mean it that way.”

To some, such comments do indeed sound racist. Stan “Pampy” Barre, the African-American restaurateurand indicted political operative, expressed outrage atpublished comments from Regional Transit AuthorityChairman James Reiss, who is white. Reiss told theWall Street Journal that New Orleans would be betteroff without a teeming underclass and attendant highcrime rate.

"Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to seeit done in a completely different way …" Reiss toldthe newspaper. "The way we've been living is not goingto happen again, or we're out."

Barre invited Reiss, who declined to comment further,to make good on his pledge to leave.

“He (Reiss) doesn’t want to redevelop those areas ofthe city that have a heavily black population,” Barresaid.

“But that’s what makes New Orleans (what itis).”

Barre brushed off the notion that poor black NewOrleanians would be better off living elsewhe
re simplybecause they have not historically prospered here.“That may be true in some instances,” he said.
“Butwhat black people are going to miss about New Orleans,they’re going to miss their mommas living right downthe street, red beans and rice on Monday, Mardi Grasand JazzFest.

“There’s a lot of people that want to come back, butthat’s going to be impossible unless they have a goodplan and they don’t price them out of the (housing)market,” Barre said. “I wish I had the answers.”Even a New Orleans fixture like Barre can’t yet set upa new restaurant to replace Pampy’s, the popular 7thWard meeting ground for city movers and shakers. Inthe meantime, he’s exploring opening a place in BatonRouge.
Opinions on the desired demographic and landscape of anew New Orleans do not break neatly along lines ofrace. Nor do the prospects for repopulating the manyareas of the city inundated by floodwaters. Along withspeculation on how many impoverished African-Americansmight return to neighborhoods such as the Lower 9thWard comes speculation about the degree to whichaffluent and mostly white areas such as Lakeview willlure its residents back. An even bigger question markhangs over the mostly white and working-class parishof St. Bernard, which was clobbered by flooding andstorm surge and will be among the most difficult andexpensive to protect from further storms.

Ratcliff, who is white, was not less incensed thanBarre by the notion that the storm was a blessingbecause it might run poor blacks permanently out oftown, a sentiment he said he heard frequently inArkansas.
“That really pisses me off,” he said. “Those are thesame poor blacks that I rode the bus with last winteron my way to work, the people I talked about theSaints with … They’re part of our culture: the secondlines and the Mardi Gras Indians. You can’t justeliminate parts of society. Like me, some of mybiggest flaws make up who I am.”

Down the street, from Slim Goody’s, Hope Manasek, a41-year-old white woman hitchhiked to the FrenchQuarter, where she sold incense at a shop before thestorm. She fretted that New Orleans would soon becomea “Disneyland for Houstonians.” Losing a largepercentage of poor New Orleanians would ruin the town,she said.

“I’ve always seen New Orleans as a poor black town – acompletely free place, not like the rest of America, aplace with totally different values, food, music,attitude, a place where people came to escape theirempty lives,” she said, sipping a beer at Molly’s atthe Market in the French Quarter, which reopened rightafter the storm. “No matter how weird you are in yourhometown, nobody looks twice at you here.”Molly’s owner Jim Monaghan Jr., an outspoken FrenchQuarter resident in the model of his father whostarted the bar, attacked the assertion that poverty –regardless of race -- is integral to the city’sculture and heritage.

“I don’t know what there is about poverty that’s funkyand flavorful – the city’s still going to have asoul,” he said.

Amid the wide array of opinions on the city’s probablefuture, those returning this week seemed to agree on afew key points, particularly that homes should berebuilt to replicate the architecture that makes thecity famous and livable. If shotgun houses arebulldozed in the Lower 9th Ward, shotgun houses shouldbe built in their place, they said, provided thedeluged low-lying area doesn’t simply become aspillway or part of an improved flood-protectionsystem, as some have recommended.

More importantly, those interviewed said, the city’spolitical fiefdoms must go.

“The thing I thought of most in the last few weeks ishow angry I am” at the city’s inability to prepare foror respond to the storm, said Cheron Brylski, aveteran political operative and public relationsspecialist. “This really showed how inept ourgovernment structure is … The political landscape isgoing to change significantly. You’re going to seesome new faces.”

But putting in new leaders will be like rearrangingthe deck chairs on the Titanic unless residents forcechange in the political culture, the cronyism and thepatronage games, Brylski said.

“Local neighborhood leaders have been ignored for solong,” Brylski said. “People at some point juststopped participating. We’ve seen dropping voterturnout.”

Brylski said she doesn’t believe the national articlesshe’s read speculating that New Orleans will become an“Uptown, white-only” enclave. The city’s diversitywill survive, she said, because people of all classesand races know instinctively that New Orleans won’t beNew Orleans without it.

The owners of Praline Connection, the popular Creolerestaurant on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny, aren’tso sure. As Curtis Moore and Cecil Kaigler, bothAfrican-Americans, worked to repair their commissarynear the restaurant Friday, they also fumed atgovernment leaders for their failure to put NewOrleanians – particularly poor black New Orleanians –first in line for clean-up and repair jobs.
“You need the people back – and they need to beworking. We’ve got Hondurans and Mexicans down hereworking while New Orleanians are just sitting out oftown in shelters,” said Curtis Moore. “I think thecity can come back strong, but only if all the moneythat’s coming down here is applied fairly and justly.If it just makes the rich richer, it’s not going towork.”

Moore’s vision of the new New Orleans disturbs him.“It’ll be a majority white town. Most black people arerenting, and their landlords are white. If the pricesgo sky high, they’re not going to be able to afford tocome back. We’ll have less black people, and that’ssad … New Orleans will definitely lose some of theflavor and culture. It won’t be the gumbo town; it’llbe more like the white bean.”

Monaghan said he plans to turn the French Quarter andthe Faubourg Marigny into a base for politicalagitation. He launched his effort Friday with a townhall meeting entitled, “What is the future of theFrench Quarter?”

The Quarter, on high ground near the river, escapeddevastation from the storm but residents now fear thethreat of ever more corporatization, condos and thecontinuation of corrupt, ineffective government.“This is a neighborhood. We don’t want to see itcorporatized to the point where people can’t live init. And the same for the Marigny,” Monaghan said. “Itwas happening before the storm, and I think this isour chance to say that people want to live here andhelp rebuild. Nothing against corporations, but it’s awhole different vibe – sterile.”

Monaghan said he had teamed up with Harry Anderson,the magician and former star of television’s “NightCourt,” who recently opened up a magic club on DecaturStreet. They hope to mobilize residents to demandchange at City Hall.

“We want to light a fire under people’s asses,” hesaid. “We’re looking for a friendlier City Hall – nomore snarling people over there who won’t even answera simple question, no more nasty meter maids and busdrivers … This is our city.”

The prospect of handing over truckloads of federalmoney to the same cast of political charactersfrightens Monaghan, who said he personally would startattending council meetings as a watchdog.

“You can just come around to all the coalitions – thepowers that be and the different factions who hate oneanother because of personalities – and say, ‘Here’ssome money … Here’s some money … Here’s some money,’”he said. “The oligarchy has to go away. That’s whatfailed us.”

5) Returnees:

New Orleans welcomes back more residents; some areunwilling to stay
9/30/2005, 5:25 p.m. CT
By MARY FOSTER The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The sounds of power saws and woodchippers filled parts of New Orleans on Friday as theFrench Quarter and other neighborhoods that werespared the worst of Hurricane Katrina were officiallyreopened to residents, a month after the storm hit.

Along St. Charles Avenue, its famous streetcars stillidled, Maury Strong and her husband were elated toreturn home and find they had electricity.

"I came back to air conditioning and CNN, so I'mhappy. The fridge is on, the beer is cold," she said."I've been sobbing back in California for two or threeweeks. I thought it was going to be much worse."

Despite the misgivings of state and federalauthorities, Mayor Ray Nagin threw open the FrenchQuarter and the Uptown section as part of anaggressive plan to get the city back on its feet.Algiers, a neighborhood across the Mississippi Riverfrom the French Quarter, reopened to residents onMonday.

Altogether, the neighborhoods account for aboutone-third of New Orleans' half-million inhabitants.Most of the reopened areas have electricity, but onlyAlgiers has drinkable water.

Serious hazards remain because of bacteria-ladenfloodwaters, a lack of clean water and a sewage systemthat has not been fully repaired. The stench ofgarbage piled up in some areas is overpowering, andstretches of the city are pitch-black at night.

Some residents came back only to pack and leave.

"We're moving out of this stinking city," Billy Tassinsnarled as he loaded his daughter's belongings into atruck, a day after finding his home fouled withknee-deep mud. "They can finishing destroying it andburning it down without us."

Nagin announced a 17-member commission to draft arebuilding plan for New Orleans, tapping businessowners and others, including Roman Catholic ArchbishopAlfred Hughes and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

The mayor said he has e-mailed the White Houseoutlining his top priorities, including rebuilding andimproving the levee system; seeking help with a raillink to Baton Rouge that could be used for emergencyevacuation; and getting federal tax breaks andincentives for businesses and residents.

"New Orleans is not asking for a handout; we're askingfor a hand up," Nagin said. The Louisianacongressional delegation has called for $250 billionin federal aid to help the state recover fromhurricane damage.
At the Red-Thread dressmaker's shop on MagazineStreet, Ilona Toth wept as she began packing up toleave 15 years after opening her business.

"It's just too hard," said Toth, a Hungarianimmigrant. "Every year a hurricane is always coming.We always have to evacuate, then clean up. It's toomuch trouble."

Some were intent on coming back.

"This is my home. I will never leave New Orleans,"said Virginia Darmstadter, 75, who has lived in theUptown section's Garden District for 21 years and lefther husband in a Houston nursing home to check theirhome. The house had no electricity, and had water andmold. The family planned to return to Houston aftercleaning up a few things.

"As soon as we get electricity and my husband isstrong enough to come back, believe me, I'll be back,"Darmstadter said. "I've lived long enough to know thatlife is a wave; you move up and down. When you aredown, you have to muster the wherewithal to face it."

Along Prytania Street in the Uptown section, peoplecleared brush and tree limbs from their yards, whilerepair crews worked on power lines.

Taylor Livingston, 40, was using a leaf-blower, hopingto create a lived-in look at three homes he wasguarding against looters.

"I don't know how it's going to come together," hesaid. "I don't know if there's ever been a big cityevacuated the way we were evacuated. It's all new. Idon't know that we can come back that quick."

The city is 95 percent dry, said Maj. Jeff Kwiecinskiof the Army Corps of Engineers. Water was still beingpumped out of the devastated Ninth Ward, butKwiecinski said it would probably be gone by Sunday.
Debris was stacked outside homes for miles, andincluded moldy mattresses and rows of refrigerators,duct-taped shut and leaking foul-smelling liquids.Burglar alarms sounded in many buildings as the powerblinked on, a sharp counterpoint to the wood chippersgrinding up fallen limbs.

Katrina's death toll in Louisiana rose to 932 onFriday, the state health department said, whileMississippi's toll climbed to 221 after a body wasfound under a collapsed motel.

In the city's eastern reaches, authorities said theyhad found 14 dead dogs. St. Bernard Parish spokesmanSteve
Cannizaro said 10 dogs were shot to death at amiddle school, and four more were found at anelementary school. Authorities do not know who killedthe animals

6) Jeff parish arrest count:

Jeff arrests 275 in Katrina looting
Deputy wounds man during foot chase
Stolen vehicles found as far away as Houston

By Michelle Hunter East Jefferson bureau

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested 275people on looting charges since Aug. 27, including
oneman shot by a deputy after he fired at the officer,Sheriff Harry Lee said in his most expansiveaccounting to date of Katrina-related crime.

The deputy wounded Larry Falkins, 19, of Westwegoduring a foot chase in Kenner on Sept. 1, an arrestreport said. Falkins had been identified as the manwho had broken into a nearby pawnshop.

Falkins allegedly fired a gun at the deputy andmissed. The deputy returned fire and hit Falkins inthe arm. Falkins managed to get away, but authoritieslater caught up with him at Kenner Regional MedicalCenter, after he turned up for treatment. Falkins wastreated, released and later booked with looting,attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assaulton an officer.

Lee's figures exceed those reported by the FBI forlooting arrests in New Orleans and Jefferson Parishcombined.

In the days just before and well after Katrina rippedthe New Orleans region on Aug. 29, Jefferson deputiesrecovered many pickup-truckloads of merchandise stolenfrom Wal-Marts, Walgreens drug stores, Radio Shacks,grocery stores and businesses in Oakwood Center, whichlooters sacked and set afire. Among the booty: DVDplayers, DVDs, CD players, even electric toothbrushes-- "Something that everybody needs during a hurricanewhen there's no electricity," said Capt. KerryNajolia, deputy commander of the Sheriff's Office SWATteam.

Among those booked with looting the Harvey Wal-Martwas Menekia Humphry, 29, of Harvey, who, with her13-year-old daughter in tow, wheeled out a shoppingcart of stolen goods including several Playstation 2video games, an arrest report said. Also booked withlooting that same store were two Sheriff's Officecorrectional officers who are accused of takingelectronic equipment.

Quite a bit of stolen loot was found in vehicles thatalso had been stolen, Lee said. So far, 24 vehicleshave been reported stolen from East Jefferson cardealerships, and at least 110 from dealerships in WestJefferson, he said. Deputies have not yet heard fromanother four West Jefferson dealers.

Even now, some Jefferson car dealers are getting callsthat vehicles stolen from their lots have been foundall over the United States, including several at theAstrodome in Houston, a major evacuation site for NewOrleans area residents, Lee said.

Deputies also arrested more than eight people whobailed out of stolen U.S. Postal Service trucks parkednear the West Bank Expressway and Westwood Drive inMarrero, arrest reports said. Inside the trucks,deputies found stolen goods, some with the securitytags still attached, as well as lottery tickets, thereports said.
Looters also made their way into several grocerystores. But some thieves bypassed the food aisles andwent to the pharmacy.

Shawn Berrigan, 33, of Metairie was arrested oncharges of lifting several bottles of prescriptiondrugs from a Sav-A-Center pharmacy, an arrest reportsaid. Deputies found a black garbage bag containingnarcotics such as hydrocodone and alprazolam. He wasbooked Wednesday with eight counts of drug possessionwith the intent to distribute, looting and pharmacyburglary, the report said.

7) Payroll articles:

Some paychecks stop for New Orleans workers
Companies can't pay without customers
By Rebecca Mowbray and Jaquetta WhiteBusiness writers

Some New Orleans-area service-sector companies whoserevenue stream is tied to a consuming public that hasbeen largely absent for the past month began layingoff workers Friday.

After Hurricane Katrina, many employers committed topaying their employees for 30 days. Friday marked theend of that period as well as the last day of themonth, making it a natural time to cut ties.

The Belle of Orleans riverboat casino, for example,which was heavily damaged by the hurricane, fired its692 employees.

"We paid them for 30 days, and that's where we're atnow," said Gonzalo Hernandez, general manager of theprivately owned casino formerly known as Bally's.

Tulane University, the metropolitan area's largestprivate employer, on Friday terminated all part-timefaculty, part-time staff who did not get benefits, andpart-time staff who were hired after May 1 that hadbeen eligible to receive benefits. As of Nov. 1, onlystaff employees who have been specifically requestedto return to work will continue to be paid; otherswill need to use accrued vacation or sick leave untilthe university re-opens in January.

Previously, the university had terminated adjunctfaculty who didn't receive benefits andall-but-dissertation graduate students who taughtclasses as adjuncts.

On a brighter note, Tulane on Friday extended paythrough the end of October for research faculty,clinical faculty at the School of Medicine, medicalresidents and Veterans Affairs professors who workpart-time at Tulane.

Sept. 30 was also a significant date for 500 full-timeemployees at the Fair Grounds Race Course and itsbetting and video poker operations. "We have said wewould be paying everyone through the end of September,which is today," spokeswoman Julie Koenig-Loignon saidFriday. Fair Grounds employees will need to startusing their vacation and sick days as of today. ButChurchill Downs Inc., the owner of the track, may havean update on that policy soon. "We are revisiting thatdecision on a week-by-week basis," she said.

Port of New Orleans employees who do not show up towork Monday will have to use their annual leave inorder to continue being paid. Of the 318 port workers,119 have reported to work. Thirty-three more areexpected this week, according to the port's Web site.Those numbers do not include people employed by theport's tenants or dock workers.

At least one port tenant, International ShipholdingInc., has said that it will continue to pay all of its122 New Orleans employees. They have been moved totemporary offices in Houston, Mandeville and BatonRouge until the company can move back to New Orleans,said Erik L. Johnsen, the company's vice president.

Friday was the final payday for employees at WholeFoods Market locations in New Orleans and Metairie whohad not relocated to another store. The company paidworkers for two pay periods after the storm, whetherthey worked or not, and offered to pay relocationcosts for those who chose to move to another city witha Whole Foods store. Company spokesman Scott Simonssaid only a "few" employees chose not to relocate.

Other companies weren't able to hang onto theiremployees that long. Two other grocers paid workersfor only one week after the storm.

Winn-Dixie paid employees through Sept. 7 and thenplaced them on unpaid leave of absence, unless theyfound work at another Winn-Dixie store, said thecompany's spokesman, Dennis Wortham.

Likewise, the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co.,which owns the Sav-a-Center stores, paid employees forone week after Hurricane Katrina but continues to payfull benefits, company spokesman Glenn Dickson said.
About 775 of Sav-a-Center's 2,100 employees have beentransferred to another store, he said. Many of thosewho did not transfer were teenagers who probably wouldnot relocate.

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center's 360 full-timeemployees stopped receiving paychecks Sept. 11 unlessthey were working. The Convention Center's 250part-time employees are paid only for the hours theywork. Sabrina Written, a spokeswoman for theConvention Center, said that some people in sales,human resources, finance, telecommunications, safetyand operations have been working, but it's hard toknow how many people that includes.

It's also likely that many other workers in the NewOrleans area have already lost jobs because theeconomy is made up largely of small businesses, whichare less able to withstand the shock of the storm.Many small companies and retailers have been forced toshut down because they have no customers.

But the situation looks brighter for employees atother companies.

Harrah's New Orleans Casino, which has about 1,900full-time employees, has committed to paying itsworkers for 90 days and has waived the payrolldeductions for insurance. The Treasure Chest, whichhopes to re-open soon, is paying its employees throughthe end of October. The Boomtown re-opened Friday.

Many hotels are trying to recall their workers to NewOrleans, according to the Greater New Orleans Hoteland Lodging Association.

"We anticipate that there are going to be somelayoffs, but most hotels are trying to get theirpeople back so they can re-open. Many hotels arere-opening on a limited basis with limited staff, butthey see the future need (for more employees) as theyget closer to full service," said Bill Langkopp, thegroup's executive vice president. "Everybody isanxious to get back in operation."

8) Tulane article:

Tulane promises prospective students it won'tdisappear
Admissions officials face some reluctance
By Bruce AlpertWashington bureau

BETHESDA, MD. - In one sense, it's the same pitch thatTulane University admissions counselors make everyyear: Tulane is one of America's elite privateuniversities, a school that's neither so large as tobe impersonal or too small as to limit academicchoices, and it offers the extra benefit of beingsmack in the middle of one of America's most excitingcities.

Still, as Tulane representative Jeff Schiffman talkedto a group of Walt Whitman High School seniors Friday,he acknowledged that some might well have doubts aboutapplying to a university that was forced to cancel thefall semester due to damage caused by HurricaneKatrina.

Schiffman promised that the campus will be spruced upand ready for classes next fall, and that the vibrantNew Orleans culture that makes Tulane "such a greatplace to go to school isn't going to disappear."
Onestudent asked whether "there will be Mardi Gras." Mostcertainly, Schiffman replied.

Still, he told students not to take his word for it.

"Unfortunately, you can't visit the campus this fall,but come visit during the spring semester," Schiffmansaid.
"We'll be open up again on Jan. 17, and you cansee for yourself."

Not only will they get a great education, he said, butthey can attend Tulane at a time of incredibleexcitement, with a university committed to playing amajor role in New Orleans' redevelopment.Architectural students already are working up newdesign schemes for devastated sections of New Orleans9th Ward, Schiffman said, while engineering studentsare looking into new design possibilities for leveesthat failed and flooded the city.
For some of the Whitman students gathered in theschool's guidance office, post-Katrina Tulane isn't aneasy sell.

"My parents think it's not going to be as safe.Because of the water there might be more diseases,"said Abby Wald, 17, a Whitman senior. "And since a lotof the city was ruined, will it be rebuilt by the timeI go there? So it made me less interested in theschool."

But Mariel Yohe, 17, said she was reassured bySchiffman's optimism about the future of both Tulaneand New Orleans.

"I was a little worried because of all you read in thenewspaper, but you don't really know about a placeuntil
you see it," Yohe said. "After hearing from theadmissions guy, I feel more confident."

Abraham Einhorn, also 17, said he worries about howlong it will take New Orleans to return to anysemblance of its former vibrancy. But he said he stillhas a good feeling for the place.

"I think just like in New York after 9/11, there willbe more of a connection to the place by the people wholive there," Einhorn said. "I think that the peoplewho come back will really be the ones who want to bethere. But you wonder about all the lost historicalbuildings. I suspect in some ways after the rebuildingit will be better, but in some ways it will be worse.But I'm definitely going to consider Tulane."

Richard Whiteside, Tulane's dean of admissions, saidapplications for next fall's freshman class arerunning about 50 percent ahead of last year, althoughhe conceded that part of the reason is attributed tothe earlier distribution of brochures and admissionsforms. Tulane has about 6,500 full-time undergraduatesand a total student body of about 13,000.

Whiteside said he isn't sensing much reluctance aboutbecoming part of Tulane's class of 2010 as he meetswith high school students and their parents.

"I'd say the first five or six minutes go somethinglike this: a lot of mutual support and concern forwhat happened, but that all ends pretty quickly,"Whiteside said in a phone interview from Tulane'stemporary administration offices in Houston. "And thenit's all about admissions-related questions, likepotential majors, financial aid and what student lifeis like. It's the same questions we get every year."

9) NO Rebuilding commission announced:

Nagin introduces city's rebuilders
Group called on to shape N.O.
Nagin to make members sign ethics statement

By Frank Donze and James VarneyStaff writers

With much of New Orleans still in shambles and anational debate growing about the cost of rebuildingthe city, Mayor Ray Nagin on Friday introduced a panelof movers and shakers who he hopes will be thearchitects of a new and better Crescent City.

The 17-member group faces the gargantuan andunprecedented task of returning parts of the citynearly annihilated by Hurricane Katrina to theirpre-storm condition, while simultaneously addressingchronic problems such as New Orleans' deplorablepublic school system.

Nagin's team includes attorneys, academics, businesspeople and church figures, many of them lifelongresidents. As he unveiled the group, Naginacknowledged that New Orleans' reconstruction has comeunder increased scrutiny in Washington, wherelawmakers are questioning the amount of money beingdiscussed for recovery, and Louisiana's storiedreputation for political corruption.

"I know there is this great debate about whether NewOrleans should be rebuilt," he said.

His team was picked with that in mind, the mayornoted, praising the members as "authentic" and with"high integrity." His administration's own trackrecord should also set some minds at ease, hesuggested.
"Google me," he said. "We've been aboutanti-corruption, about doing things in a mannerconsistent with how other areas of the country dothings."

Nagin also said each commission member has agreed tosign an "ethics statement" pledging they will not"profiteer from the rebuilding process."

Whether the final aid package that comes fromWashington is $100 billion or $250 billion, Naginvowed to see the funds spent in a transparent mannerthat would breed confidence in the recovery effort andthe city's future. What's more, much of the moneywould be earmarked for projects to ensure that asimilar disaster never happens again, he said.

At questions about the country's commitment torebuilding the city in light of its precarioussituation, however, the mayor displayed a flash ofimpatience. Nagin wondered why metropolitan areas withtheir own looming confrontations with nature are notsubject to the same debate.

"I don't see it about Florida," he said. "There's notone about California, which sits right on a faultline. Let's figure out what we have to do to make thisa safer community."

In an e-mail to the White House, Nagin said he hadasked for four specific things:

- To have the city's levees immediately restored towithstand a Category 3 hurricane and "quicklythereafter" upgraded to a more comprehensive system oflevees and floodwalls that could, in theory, withstanda direct hit from a Category 5 storm.

- Whatever dollars are appropriate to rebuild a leveeprotection system equipped to withstand a Category 5hurricane.

- An "expedited and fortified" light rail system torun from downtown to the airport and then from theairport to Baton Rouge. Beyond its immediate benefitsto the economy, Nagin said the system would serve asan evacuation tool.

- A complex package of tax breaks and incentives forindividuals and businesses working or headquartered inNew Orleans.

When asked what kind of response he got from the WhiteHouse, Nagin smiled but did not provide specifics.

"They basically said they were looking at it," hereplied. "You know, the president looked me in the eyeand said we would rebuild the city into a shiningexample for the nation and so far he's been a man ofhis word."

Nagin added: "New Orleans is not asking for hand out.We're asking for a hand up.''

The mayor said he has given the commission anambitious timetable, asking it to deliver a "fullyvetted plan'' by year's end.

He said the commission "will not work in isolation,''with up to two dozen subcommittees - on subjects suchas levees, education and economic development - whosemembership will number in the hundreds.

While he provided few details, Nagin said thecommission plans to set up teleconferences to solicitinput from evacuees scattered across the nation.

The commission will be co-chaired by two native NewOrleanians: community activist Barbara Major,executive director of the St.Thomas Health Clinic, andMel Lagarde, chief executive officer of HCA DeltaDivision, a major health care provider.

"I am honored to have been asked to be a part of thiscommission," Major said. "I don't know if I'm morescared than honored. But fear is a good thing becauseit brings about caution."

Major said she is committed to rebuilding a NewOrleans "with the inclusiveness that it never hadbefore in terms of equity and access. That everybodyhas a right to return to New Orleans. Not to the oldNew

Orleans but to a better New Orleans where there isdecent housing and quality schools and health care forall."
Lagarde said signing up for the commission "is anopportunity I've waited for really ever since thestorm hit.

We've talked enough about the devastationand the issues that face this city as a result of thestorm."

While it will be a daunting task, he said New Orleanshas an unprecedented chance "to come together andbegin looking at things completely new, with acompletely different set of issues and paradigms."

Nagin said he is not concerned that other committeesbeing assembled by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the NewOrleans City Council will conflict with hiscommission, noting that the governor's panel has astatewide mission and that Council President OliverThomas has a seat on his committee.

Blanco, who showed up unannounced and got a bear hugfrom a surprised Nagin, agreed with the mayor'sassessment.

She said she wants every Louisiana community hit byKatrina to set up similar committees of localcommunity leaders and pledged her full support for theeffort.

"We will be your right arm,'' Blanco told Nagin."We'll work as a big team. We're going to work hard asyour partner and we're going to make this happen.''

10) Archdiocese finances:

Archdiocese plans layoffs
Katrina has ravaged the church's finances
Archdiocese employees must call in
By John PopeStaff writer

Under financial strain from the burden of caring forvictims of Katrina and Rita, the Archdiocese of NewOrleans is grappling with the painful prospect oflaying off an unspecified number of its 9,000 layemployees to avoid running a deficit.

"We certainly want to keep as many employees as wecan," the Rev. William Maestri, the archdiocesanspokesman, said Friday. "However, we realize theravages of Katrina and Rita have put a great strain onthe archdiocese to provide for the victims of thestorms and support its employees."

No decision has been made on the number of employeesto be let go, the areas from which these workers willcome or when the decision will be made, he said,explaining that this process has been in the works foronly three weeks.

"We want to do this as quickly as possible . . . withall deliberate speed, to be fair to our employees,"Maestri said.

Under its hurricane policy, the archdiocese paid allemployees through today, he said, and benefits runthrough Oct. 31. Workers who are laid off can continueto pay for health insurance for another year.

Maestri said all lay employees must report to theirsupervisors or call 1 (888) 366-5024 by Monday.
If a job is available, the caller will be told whenand where to report, and wages will resume on thefirst day of work. If no work is to be had, the workerwill be terminated with two weeks' severance pay andthen become eligible for unemployment compensation.

Employees also will be terminated, with two weeks'pay, if they turn down jobs offered when they call,Maestri said.

If they don't call by Monday, they will be droppedwith no severance pay.

"The layoffs will be painful," Maestri said.

But being laid off may not be the end of the line,because some archdiocesan departments with robustbudgets may be able to hire workers from agencies thatcan't afford them, Maestri said, adding that anincrease in donations to the archdiocese might meanthat more employees could be kept on the payroll.

In a statement to employees spelling out theseoptions, the archdiocese described itself as "both avictim of the storm as well as an integral source ofsupport."

"We must, however, regrettably, discontinue theemployment of many of our faithful workers," thestatement said. "We pledge to keep as many aspossible. We hope to rehire many in the future."

11) NO Hospitals:

Local hospitals in critical condition
Only handful in area back up and running
New Orleans facing health-care crisis
By Ronette Kingand John PopeStaff writers

Hurricane Katrina closed half of the hospitals in theseven-parish area, including all of those based in NewOrleans, and some may not reopen.

Several hospitals - most notably the Charity andUniversity hospital campuses operated by a branch ofLouisiana State University - will have to undergointense structural studies before anyone can even talkabout reopening them, said John J. "Jack" Finn,president of the Metropolitan Hospital Council of NewOrleans.

Of the approximately 4,000 employees both campuses hadbefore Katrina, about 2,500 haven't checked in sincethe storm, spokesman Marvin McGraw said, adding thathe does not know whether Charity will reopen.
"It would take pretty close to a miracle for ahospital with a badly damaged electrical andmechanical system" to reopen, Finn said. "I can'timagine anyone spending $50 million to $100 million toput it in the condition that it was in before."

The potential loss of Charity, compounded by thediminished capacity of private health-care providers,is a double whammy for the New Orleans area.

"What we have in New Orleans is the loss of the hugepublic hospital and the capacity that was relied onfor the city's and the state's large uninsuredpopulation for their care," said Diane Rowland,executive director at the Kaiser Family Foundation."Plus we have a loss of private-hospital capacity.Even if they reopen, it will take some time to getthem back in shape.

"There's no way I can imagine how other hospitals withreduced capacity and far more limited outpatientcapacity can absorb what Charity was doing if Charitycan't reopen."

Charity, the 66-year-old state-owned colossus onTulane Avenue, is the principal teaching hospital forLouisiana's doctors, and it provides an array ofservices that poor people would have a difficult timegetting elsewhere, Rowland said. Charity also operatesthe area's only Level One trauma center, a member ofan elite group of hospitals that are equipped tohandle the most serious emergencies.

Dr. Vincent Berkley, chief medical officer for IndianHealth Service, the federal health program forAmerican Indians and Alaska natives, is leading a U.S.Public Hospital Administration team overseeing therestoration of health care in New Orleans. The goal isto rebuild the area's hospital capacity in anintegrated and incremental manner, with hospitalssharing information about the services they areprepared to offer.

In the meantime, disaster medical assistance teamsthat work with doctors, nurses and pharmacy servicesto provide urgent medical care to communities withouthospitals have been set up. And the emergency medicalservice systems in Orleans and Jefferson parishes areworking together to transport patients to hospitalsthat can accommodate them.

A dozen hospitals in the New Orleans area continue tooperate, including Ochsner Clinic Foundation inJefferson, East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairieand West Jefferson General Hospital in Marrero. KennerRegional Medical Center and Touro Infirmary areoperating emergency rooms. And this week KennerRegional was cleared to reopen some inpatient beds, aspokesman for the hospital's owner said.
Tulane-Lakeside Hospital in Metairie reopened Friday.Although Lakeside specializes in women's health care,the hospital will offer additional services to helpmeet the community's immediate needs, said JeffPrescott, spokesman for HCA Inc., the hospital'sparent company.

Children's Hospital has a projected opening date ofOct. 10, depending on the return of city services.
All acute-care hospitals in St. Tammany Parish remainopen, including North Shore Regional Medical Center inSlidell, as well as River Parishes Hospital in LaPlaceand St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling.

As the hospitals work to reopen, hospitaladministrators must balance the community's need formedical care with their own fiscal health.

"The challenge a hospital CEO faces is how to bring inadditional staff when you don't know what the patientload is going to be to provide work for that staff,"Berkley said. "They've got to pay them to be there towork, but at the same time they've got to have workfor them to do."

At the same time, hospitals may lose staff members whoare unable or unwilling to return to the area.
"Nurses are being hired away because many of them haveno homes here and no schools where they can send theirchildren. The human resources side is not attractive,"Finn said.

Already 5,944 doctors were displaced in the 10parishes in Louisiana and Mississippi flooded byKatrina. That figure doesn't include doctors workingas administrators or researchers, only those caringfor patients. Of those, 4,486 were in Orleans,Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes, according toThomas Ricketts, a University of North Carolina-ChapelHill professor who conducted a study on displaceddoctors. The study is based on data from the AmericanMedical Association, information on areas that floodedand the locations where doctors practiced.

More than half the displaced doctors were specialists,including 1,292 primary care doctors and 272obstetricians and gynecologists. Half of the 1,300medical students at Louisiana State University andTulane moved to other programs, mostly in Baton Rougeand East Texas.

The problem is that many doctors won't come back. Forphysicians, once they get busy practicing elsewhere,the reasons for not coming back build, Ricketts said.

Medicine "is a fairly complex, high-order service thatrequires a great deal of coordination and cooperationamong professions," Ricketts said.

Doctors need patients, nurses, pharmacies, medicalrecords staff, X-ray technicians and other specialiststo support them, he said. "Just having a doctor openthe door does not mean you can provide modernmedicine."

This week Tenet Healthcare notified the approximately2,400 employees of Memorial and Lindy Boggs medicalcenters that they would be laid off at the end ofOctober because it's clear those hospitals will beclosed for at least six months, a company spokesmansaid. Both lost power and flooded when levees brokeafter Hurricane Katrina. Workers there are being giventhe opportunity to apply for work at Tenet's 67 otherhospitals in 13 states, Steve Campanini said.

Both Methodist Hospital and Chalmette Medical Centertook on water, and the parent company for thosehospitals, UHS Inc., has started surveying the damage.UHS has 2,800 employees spread among the five NewOrleans area hospitals it operates and they are stillbeing paid.

UHS has not decided how long that will continue,spokesman Nick Ragone said, but the company willcontinue health insurance benefits for workers atChalmette and Methodist through the end of the year,he said.
Ragone said UHS is offering jobs to employees at its85 hospitals around the country and some have takenadvantage of the offer.

12) Biblical reference:

Perhaps if the Supreme Court would have allowed Bible reading by the emergency planners, some of the horrible, unsanitary conditions at the Super Dome in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina would have been prevented. On this matter of hygene the Bible is quite clear.

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