Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The third world-ing of New Orleans, part II

When we saw the devastation wrought by Katrina, and the suffering of the people there in the aftermath, many of us thought we must be seeing footage from some distant, corrupt and poverty-striken land, only to realize that it was in fact shot in our own corrupt and poverty-striken country. But in the same manner in which our government has docked soldiers killed in Iraq for the pay received before the military figured out they were dead, the Feds now seek to collect from Louisiana a fair chunk of the cost of FEMA's own incompetence.

AP: Louisiana gets its first FEMA bills, totaling $156 million

Louisiana's first bills from FEMA for its share of federal hurricane recovery efforts arrived over the holidays, and they were a doozy: $155.7 million, with a 30-day due date before interest starts accruing.

And more bills are expected to arrive in the coming months as federal officials tally their costs after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

States are required to pick up part of the cost for certain types of disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including repairs to state infrastructure, efforts to minimize future damage from storms and some assistance for individuals.

Louisiana's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness received collection statements from FEMA on Dec. 29 for $139.7 million in aid for Hurricane Katrina and $16 million for Hurricane Rita.

State officials don't know how they're going to pay for the first bills or any others. They have been working with federal officials on possible payment plans, but a November estimate projected a daunting price tag that Louisiana ultimately could owe FEMA more than $3 billion.

Perhaps Louisiana could approach the IMF for a bridge loan. Then in a few years maybe Bono could convince the IMF to cancel their debt, as he as for so many other third world debtors.


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