According to ESPN, an agreement in principle has been reached between the NFL and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson that will have the team returning for practices for 2006. That will likely lead to them playing the whole season in NO.
...Under the accord, which is expected to be finalized soon, the Saints will return to their permanent practice facility in Metairie, La., just outside of New Orleans. The state-owned training complex was commandeered by FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and used as a staging area. Saints officials had previously contended that the facility was in disrepair, but the damage was not nearly as severe as originally indicated.
"[The talks] haven't always been amicable, and [Benson] still has some doubts about all of this, but it looks like they're going back [to Louisiana]," one owner advising the Saints said.
It is believed that, with the Saints in Metairie, the team will split its 2006 schedule between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Superdome in New Orleans has been projected to be ready for play in November, but officials hope repairs can be accelerated in coming months...
As of mid-November, the number of recoveries had dwindled to a one or two a week, and Kenyon International Emergency Services' contract to do collections ended around that time.
The backstory is in this story from 11/16:
Kenyon... first arrived in the storm-ravaged region Sept. 7 as a short-term contractor for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Six days later the company signed a contract with the state after nearly pulling out of Louisiana entirely because of what a top executive characterized as government "roadblocks" that thwarted recovery teams' ability to maintain professional standards.
The deal was sealed amid cries from Gov. Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, that too few people were handling the dead, some of whose bodies lay exposed in the streets. FEMA policy prohibited tens of thousands of National Guard troops and municipal police officers on the ground at the time from touching the bodies, except to tag them and report their locations to higher authorities.
Since mid-September, Johannessen said he has not fielded any complaints about Kenyon, which worked at the World Trade Center site in 2001 and retrieved the bodies of Australian citizens in Thailand after last year's tsunami. He said the state expects to be fully reimbursed by the federal government for the cost of Kenyon's contract.
The company collected more than 800 bodies, mostly from Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, and brought them to St. Gabriel, state officials said. As of Nov. 9, the tally of hurricane deaths had reached 1,056, with 883 bodies examined at St. Gabriel...
...The report by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner aimed some of its most pointed criticism at one of DHS's major entities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Katrina and a subsequent storm, Rita, increased the load on FEMA's "already overburdened resources and infrastructure," the report said.
In addition, the report found, "the circumstances created by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita provide an unprecedented opportunity for fraud, waste and abuse," primarily because FEMA's grant and contract programs are still not being managed properly.
"While DHS is taking several steps to manage and control spending under Katrina, the sheer size of the response and recovery efforts will create an unprecedented need for oversight," the report concludes...
The report is in this PDF file. It isn't searchable, but a quick scan doesn't make it look like there are any major smoking guns. If you find any, please leave them in comments.
Earlier this month, at the request of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, five community activists made some rather disturbing charges before Congress. And, as previously discussed, the MSM ate it up: "Community activists charge racism before Congress, butÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"
Now, this article has a bit more on the activists and their charges.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has raised about $400,000 for Katrina relief, but they haven't disbursed any of it and they don't plan to until January or February.
Contrast with their earlier rapid response:
"We have witnessed something shockingly awful and that is the lack of response, the quick response, from our government to those Americans who are suffering [and] who are dying," said U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., (D-Ill.) on Sept. 2, four days after Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), also present at the Congressional Black Caucus' Sept. 2 news conference, declared that she was "ashamed of America."
"I'm ashamed of our government. We don't want another Iraq, where the money just goes off somewhere. This is real human need. And I'm outraged by the lack of response from our federal government," Kilpatrick said...
Jeff Franks of Reuters offers "Immigrants find opportunity in ruined New Orleans". It hits some of the same points as similar articles that support illegal aliens taking rebuilding jobs from American hurricane victims. But, it reads even more like an advocacy piece than others in the same genre, and it cranks up the anti-Americanism quite a few notches at the end. And, the parts that could be considered reporting aren't exactly in-depth:
While New Orleans residents are slow to return, the immigrants, most of them illegally in the United States, have swarmed in to do the hard work of cleaning up and rebuilding that others so far have shunned.
Is it really accurate to say that they've "shunned" it? Perhaps it's because they've been shipped off to Atlanta. And, perhaps it's because of wage pressure from illegal labor. Reuters doesn't discuss that. If they were actually interested in reporting the news they would.
It also includes this:
Mexican Adolf Ramirez, 53, who came to New Orleans from Dallas two months ago, figured the workers were being left alone because the desperate needs in New Orleans had trumped anti-immigrant sentiments now prevalent in the United States.
Obviously, that's a false statement. But, here's the racist, anti-American part that will make most Americans' blood boil:
...The immigrant workers do not feel too threatened by competition from the local Americans. They point to the back of the parking lot where the only "gringos" in sight are sleeping on sheets of cardboard or sitting on wooden boxes, surrounded by empty beer cans and booze bottles.
"There are a lot of drunks here," said Delgado.
When asked where the American workers were, Del Rio shook his head and said, "Who knows? It just seems like the Latin race likes to work more."
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know exactly what you think.
According to this, NO has inspected 128,000 homes on the east bank, and they will soon raze 2,500 of those. Around another 3,000 were also marked as inhabitable, but their status will be verified before a final decision is made. But:
The vast majority of the homes in the city -- about 68 percent -- were coded yellow, or judged to be sound but with structural damage. And [chief technology officer, Greg Meffert] said it's likely that as many as half of those homes, or about 43,000, will eventually be demolished. But city officials hope to leave that decision in the hands of the homeowner as much as possible, he said.
The WaPo offers "Brown's Turf Wars Sapped FEMA's Strength" says that the new DHS under Tom Ridge trimmed FEMA's budget, making it a shadow of its former self. FEMA head Michael Brown was a turf warrior who tried to use his White House connections to undercut the DHS, but they didn't support him:
In many ways, Brown is a cautionary tale of what can happen to Washington officials who make mistakes in the public eye after making enemies behind the scenes. Brown spent two years trying to use his contacts with White House officials to undercut DHS, but the White House rarely backed him, and DHS leaders responded by shifting FEMA's responsibilities and resources to more cooperative agencies.
Ridge stripped FEMA's power over billions of dollars worth of preparedness grants as well as the creation of a national disaster response plan. Most of the agency's top staff quit. And after he arrived at DHS in February, Chertoff decided to take away the rest of FEMA's preparedness duties.
The rest of it goes into rather disgusting bureaucratic soap opera. For instance:
"[Brown] fought being part of DHS from Day One," another top DHS official recalled.
Brown got his way on the name; Ridge and his brand-conscious aides had to admit that "FEMA" sounded better than "EP&R." But when Brown sent a memo urging Ridge to defy Congress and move the ODP into FEMA, Ridge refused.
Someone who stayed behind in Slidell, Louisiana filmed the experience of things like his TV floating out the door. Now, he's sold the footage to CNN and others. Apparently it's enough to help him do some repairs.
"In the Gulf, Katrina was a Category 5 storm, and the surge was still Category 5 when it hit the ground... It's the surge -- the pressure of water against those levee walls -- that's the most important factor, not the winds."
As previously discussed, there are questions over whether ACE's design of the levees and floodwalls was faulty or not.
And, the downgrading also affects LA's government:
"That storm was the biggest storm ever to enter the Gulf of Mexico," [Edmond J. Preau Jr., Louisiana's assistant secretary for public works] said in testimony before the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "I think it would be a real disservice to everyone if Katrina goes down in the history books as a '4' because the wind speed dropped at the last minute."
To some local experts, the report was further evidence that human error was primarily to blame for New Orleans's drowning.
"This is a further indictment of the levee system," Ivor Van Heerden, an LSU professor and leader of a team of Louisiana investigators probing the cause of the levee breaches. "It indicates that most of the flooding of downtown New Orleans was a consequence of man's folly."
Other engineering experts agree: Considering Katrina's weakened state at the time it reached New Orleans, the failure of the city's 17th Street and London Avenue canal floodwalls can be explained only as a failure of design or construction, said Robert Bea, a civil engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
"The water level in the canals wasn't that high when the floodwalls breached," said Bea, a member of an investigating team funded by the National Science Foundation. "We had a premature failure of the defense system."