I’m trying to be optimistic, but it’s not easy. Every time I start to see the silver lining, the clouds roll back over for one more pass…
Good News: It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Parades, King Cake, decorations and tourists.
Bad News: Many in America are saying, “Tsk, tsk,” and will use this vital and emotionally regenerating event to write us off as either stupid and frivolous, or recovered and happy.
Good News: The President actually put his money (scratch that—our money) where his mouth is and came out in favor of several billion dollars in Community Development Block Grants. Even after all the deducts and discounts, I think, if I read the rules correctly, we are eligible for some money.
Bad News: The application process for the CDBG will be handled by FEMA. Well, perhaps the money will arrive in time to help pay my daughter’s college tuition.
Good News: The City of New Orleans is now taking applications for demolition of houses to be done under a contract with the Corps of Engineers. This could save us some money and trouble if the city will do it for us.
Bad News: No one at city hall has even the slightest idea of when the dozer will visit my house. Actually, they haven’t demolished any houses yet. They’re just collecting data to be used in negotiating a contract. I guess we’re going to have to do it ourselves after all.
Good News: Three of my neighbors now have FEMA travel trailers set up in front of their damaged homes. This is a sure sign that people are coming back.
Bad News: There still is no electricity on my street, so no one is actually living in the trailers yet.
Good News: The Legislature actually passed a bill that requires people who serve on levee boards to be professional engineers and scientists. And these board members will be nominated by a non-partisan committee of national professional societies and political watchdog groups. This is a first in Louisiana history.
Bad News: Congress asked for a single levee board but the Legislature split the new levee board into two boards. Then to fix their counting failure, the Legislature made the two professional, non-political boards subservient to a thing called the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. CPRA is a completely political panel appointed by the levee board presidents who are appointed by the governor. They’re already preparing for the next flood—of federal money.
Good News: The Corps of Engineers is rebuilding levees and floodwalls at a record pace. And why not? For the first time in decades the Corps is fully funded and has the green light to do what needs to be done to accomplish the mission.
Bad News: The Corps is merely repairing the damaged hurricane protection system to its originally authorized level of protection. When the levees in St. Bernard Parish are restored, a storm surge similar to Katrina’s will roll right over those levees and flood the parish just like before. How many people need to die before Congress and the President pledge to build superior hurricane protection?
Good News: It’s late, I’m tired, and my Darling Wife and daughter are already asleep and waiting for me in our warm bed.
Bad News: Nothing wrong with that!