At a meeting with the city's rebuilding commission, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta (video), Mayor Ray Nagin sent shockwaves through the Big Easy Wednesday, laying out a plan that gives the hardest hit wards just four months to prove they can survive. Neighborhoods that cannot justify their continued existence will be bought out and demolished.
Four months. My boss had a room added on to her house. It took about 6 months for all the work to be finished. My sister-in-law and her husband renovated their kitchen. Since they both worked, they had to work on weekends. It took the better part of a year for all the work to be complete. Yet they are expecting neighborhoods - the neighborhoods that were hit the worst - to be functioning in four months, even though most residents haven't even returned yet. The article says demographers say that only a quarter of the former residents have returned. But what would they return to?
In New Orleans, many neighborhoods are still abandoned wastelands, with uninhabitable homes, no working street lights and sidewalks piled with moldy garbage. The levee system is as vulnerable as ever.
The land grab is set up. How can people who have been devastated by Katrina manage to do this impossible feat? These are people who have lost everything. They are living in far away states. They still need to feed, house, and clothe themselves, so they are probably working in their new locations. But I'd wager a lot of them would like to come back to their homes.
Oh, the last paragraph of the article sheds some light on who might be the beneficiary of this land grab:
Before returning to Washington Thursday night, the president planned to attend a Republican National Committee fundraiser at the sprawling oceanfront estate of Dwight Schar in Palm Beach, Fla. Schar is CEO of NVR Homes, a major homebuilder and mortgage banking company, and co-owner of the Washington Redskins football team. He raised more than $200,000 for Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.