If the roof comes off of the New Orleans Superdome again tomorrow night, it'll be caused by the cheers of the football fans inside -- and not by a hurricane.
That's the prediction of the arena's manager, Glenn Menard, as officials prepare to reopen the indoor stadium for the first time since it became an emergency shelter during Hurricane Katrina more than a year ago.
Yup. The Superdome's up and running -- New Orleans is back, baby!
Look, I'm not saying this isn't a legitimate story. But it's a story with a context and the context isn't being reported. The Superdome got a big boost from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reports New Orleans' Times-Picayune:
The team sidestepped another financial obstacle in late January when it expedited a $91 million repair payment from FEMA. The process normally takes 60 to 90 days, but Dome officials needed the money immediately to start construction. The State Facility of Planning and Control, which oversees all construction projects, will not allow work to begin until cash is in place. To cut the red tape in Washington, Dome officials enlisted Tagliabue and U.S. Sen. David Vitter. On Feb. 28 -- Fat Tuesday -- Thornton received a call that the money was on its way. The work could begin.
Other people weren't so lucky. Residents of the Lower 9th Ward -- Katrina's 'Ground Zero' in New Orleans -- are still waiting for reconstruction. Over one year after it was destroyed, the Houston Chronicle reports that reconstruction is still in the planning stages.
What's the holdup? One problem is that FEMA underestimated the cost of rebuilding and money's becoming tight -- but not too tight to find $91 million for the Superdome. "Many initial estimates by the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the cost of repairing thousands of water-logged buildings, cracked pipes and crumbling streets in hurricane-staggered Louisiana were way too low — and some reconstruction projects are being held up because of it," Associated Press reports today. "Some local governments say they cannot legally or financially hire contractors and get on with the work, because they fear they will be saddled with repair costs that won't be reimbursed by Washington."
Meanwhile, people finding themselves still homeless are living in FEMA trailers.
(AP) A February deadline to get residents out of thousands of travel trailers in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina will not be kept, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says.
That month marks the 18-month deadline set for FEMA relief following President Bush's disaster declaration. But since the city's recovery has been slow, officials now say there will not be enough housing.
"We're going to go beyond 18 months," said Darryl Madden, spokesman for FEMA's Gulf Coast recovery office.
According to AP, "The private sector must step up the pace of getting new housing units to market, Madden said." See the catch-22? The private sector has to step up, but FEMA won't guarantee that they'll be paid. Why on earth would the private sector take the risk?
And those FEMA trailers aren't exactly palatial. They aren't the sort of trailers you find in trailer parks, they're the kind of trailers you find at campgrounds. They aren't meant to be lived in for any sort of extended period of time. In fact, doing so means living in a toxic environment.
A group testing FEMA trailers in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have discovered a dangerous problem that could have widespread implications to the health of anyone living in one.
A spokeswoman for the environmental group Sierra Club told BET.com that they released final results from tests conducted from April to August of this year that revealed formaldehyde, found inside the trailers, were at illness-inducing levels.
"As soon as we come out of the trailer, we start coughing," [resident Kathleen] Covington told BET.com. "You can feel it trying to get out of your system, and I steadily feel a drip in the back of my throat from it," she said, adding the bad air has caused her to lose her appetite and in a month and a half she’s lost 27 pounds.
So, yes, the Superdome's back, but New Orleans is far from it. That's the whole story.
Technorati tags: politics; Louisiana; Katrina; FEMA; disaster; the Superdome isn't the whole story... the media still needs to look at rebuilding in New Orleans