New Orleans slow in hurricane recovery

Published 6:07 pm Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Orleans trails Gulf Coast communities in hurricane recovery because of a failure of local leadership and a lack of affordable housing, says a report issued by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

The report describes region-wide recovery as uneven, with progress dependent on how effective leaders have been in making decisions; how badly an area’s business and economic infrastructure was damaged; and how quickly it has been able to get state and federal aid.

The report says state and federal bureaucracies were worsening the recovery.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish and Mississippi’s Hancock County are having the hardest time — mainly for lack of housing, the report says.

Jefferson Parish, Kenner and Lake Charles are classified as areas “where recovery is well under way.” East Baton Rouge and St. Tammany parishes, meanwhile, are “areas of expansion,” the report’s top designation.

The report — released last week — is an updated study by the organizations of recovery efforts. It criticizes New Orleans, saying the city has failed to craft a definitive, comprehensive rebuilding plan and calls the city’s Unified New Orleans plan “vague.”

The report acknowledges greater specificity in the plan recently released by New Orleans recovery chief Ed Blakely to invest $1.1 billion in 17 targeted areas. But “the bottom line right now is that the funding … is far from stable, and there is every chance the plan will end up on a shelf, like so many others before it,” the report says.

Both Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s housing recovery programs are criticized in the report, which says neither program “has provided the hoped-for spark to rebuilding efforts.”