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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  August 26, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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recommending, you need to get out of town. just like once a month. take a weekend. you've got to get away from this. this is really bad for your stress level. announcer: we start our program with sue. -- with an organization that is working on preserving -- restoring new orleans' historical district. >> we are in the seventh ward. it sue: we are in the seventh ward. it is not strictly by itself a historic district, even though there are historic homes here. this is where we are at a year after the storm. >> how much flood damage did this get? sue: people got i would say street level eight or nine feet. i would say inside homes, or
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-- perhaps five to six feet, depending on the home. these houses are raised in the traditional style. maybe not raised enough. this style of home, this is a double shotgun. what is great about these houses is, first being built for these environments, they are raised. water can go underneath them. they can be ventilated. they have windows and doors on all sides. good for air circulation. but the construction is what the best thing about it. it is cyprus framing and it is the old river cyprus that grows in water. so it doesn't get flood damage. many of these people have hard line floors which strained out just fine. there is a big mix of homes old and new.
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reporter: is this an african-american neighborhood? sue: i would say predominantly but not entirely. it reflects the city, i would say. this might be the street. but, you see, you don't know. here is the high watermark on that home. you see the grade is a little bit higher and it is raised a little bit. when you see these high watermarks, it is standing water. and the water wasn't nice, fresh bottled water type of water. the water was from canals. here is an example of a home that can dry out just fine. you can see it is structurally sound. it is raised up.
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mold is something that everybody fears but mold doesn't really kill you. mold eats on paper, certain organic things. but once it is dry, it dies. once it dies, it's not going to hurt you. the problem in this neighborhood, which is typical of so many new orleans neighborhoods is that people didn't have flood insurance or they were underinsured. this type of insurance is very, very expensive. the people that live in this house -- people that live in this house, they bought this house 50 years ago. they lived in it for 50 years. it is paid for. the man is a retired maitre d'. the people that you rely on for every day who give their lives to serve others and they didn't deserve to have what happened to them happen.
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in fact, we got there home back together before the trailer could be hooked up. so we beat fema. don't need this trailer. they are back in their home. i hate to drop in on them, but we might. reporter: in your neighborhood, how many people have come back? you are the only once? >> it's hard to get a telephone. my son just called me. it is three month before he can get a telephone, a house telephone. this area was bad for kids. it's going to be three months before we can get a phone.
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but they wanted to give me a phone. it was $30 a month, 1000 hours, but no fees, you know, like, i'm on the senior rate now and no fees. it's not like a cell phone. and i need my cell phone because so many people do call me. you know. reporter: you're the only one in the whole neighborhood -- >> this block. three people drowned. this is the senior area around here. homes that are square like this. three neighbors drowned.
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i am the first one back thanks to rebuilding together. other neighbors sold their property. they don't want to come back. the next or neighbor, she is trying to get back. everywhere else, all are in this area, and the only one. reporter: what about the services that are back russian ? are there grocery stores, that sort of thing? >> crescent city connection. sue: across the mississippi river. >> she knows about sam's where i have to get supplies from. they try to build up though. there are a few little family's -- family stores that are trying to build up. we don't have transportation.
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reporter: any of the buses or any other types of transportation in this area? >> there are four different buses. reporter: how long have you been living in orleans? >> all of my life, 77 years. my daughter is 55. it is hard to get to me and to her doctor in the hospital and all that. she has an appointment friday and i have to call tomorrow morning, you know. reporter: what are the biggest differences for you right now compared to before katrina? >> shopping. shopping, transportation, communication, everything.
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it's hard for us right now. you know. but thank god we have a roof over our head. thanks to rebuilding together. reporter: why is the fema trailer outside? >> fema came a week before the house was finished. the trailer was there when we got home. the trailer got here a couple of days before the house was finished and we could move in. sue: she can't live in it. or open it up. there are seven contractors at a minimum to place a trailer. i had a trailer as well. some of these things make sense.
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there is somebody who comes in and inspects the site. then somebody comes in and make sure that the electrical stuff is there. then they deliver the trailer. then someone else comes by. another sub sub contractor to inspect the trailer now that it is there. then someone else comes by to do something else, hook up the plumbing. >> yeah. sue: then it is all set up and ready to go. then another contractor comes and yet you keys and makes you sign things. >> right. it's been there a couple of weeks. sue: and it costs about $55,000 from what i read in "the times" for the process of a temporary trailer. that includes having to pick it up. whereas for $40,000, you can get people home and comfortable and familiar surroundings. >> and this is for the police
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environment. sue: the first responders. she has police officers across the street. >> we don't have violence, not in this area. sue: not with a whole trailer park full of cops. [laughter] you are not going to have that problem. reporter: are you waiting on fema to take this away now? >> i'm not telling them to take it away. it is not bothering me. we still use it. we worked so hard to get it. [laughter] so, whatever they say.
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whenever they are ready. because we are in the house now. everything is in the house. we are very pleased, very satisfied, very comfortable. i feel safe. i really do. we lock the doors at night. we really feel safe here. you know, you don't see problems around here or have problems around here. so we really feel safe around here, you know. reporter: so just the transportation is the biggest problem. >> that is my biggest problem. go to the doctor, trying to get it right with the telephone and trying to get our doctors back again, all these doctors. reporter: have the doctors left town? >> yes. tulane university hospital, all
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of them haven't come back or they are retired and they are not coming back. but i feel good. i feel good. and i thank god that we are back home. it is not what we had before, the surrounds. i am back home in new orleans . no place like new orleans. we are back home thanks to rebuilding together. sue: that is the place that stayed open. people are just getting around to gutting. there is an august 29 katrina anniversary deadline with
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getting your house gutted. but first seniors, especially if they have evacuated, it is just not possible arid they need to have some help. reporter: individuals have to do that themselves? sue: a lot of times, it is family members. the family gets together and does that work. there are a lot of agencies that handle it. many agencies handle that. people ask us about it. we don't do gutting. we did in the beginning in little bit. but there are so many volunteer groups that are doing it. we recommend that. that is a really hard process to go through. i went through it myself. it's like you just have to throw your entire life out on the curb. it is moldy and it stinks and it's hot and it's a
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heartbreaking process to throw everything away. but once you get into gutted and cleaned, you really feel like you can start again. announcer: a mile away from this area sits another fema trailer park for first responders. jeff: we have 53 mobile homes and travel trailers. what fema tried to do at the request of the city is put up first responders, firemen and policemen, very quickly a travel trailer site so they could able to provide essential services to the city. this is one of those sites. reporter: can we walk around a little bit? jim: sure. we have a few across the state, about 20 or so in the new
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orleans area. the travel sites are further -- for folks who do not have a personal site set aside. if they are renters are other side is not suitable for trailers, they are eligible to be placed in a group site. we established a these and various locations around the city. reporter: what is the estimated time folks will be living there ? jim: that is a good question. the ideal a temporary housing is that folks will be there for 18 months. they given the size and breath of this disaster, we will have to revisit that at the end of 18 months. generally speaking, we would offer the applicants the option
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of renting the travel trailer from us. we will just have to see when the time comes in february where we are in the rebuilding and recovery process. reporter: it is -- is it possible to go in one of these? jim: as i said, these are for first responders. there may be a policeman off shift. i don't mind knocking on a door and seeing if somebody is home and talking with them for a moment. but we do need to respect the privacy. it would be like walking around in a neighborhood and asking to come into their house. we don't have any restriction on the press coming in and talking to the folks in the travel trailer parks. reporter: when did this come up to speed? jim: i don't have the date on that. this was fairly quick, in september or october.
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since it was for first responders. but this is relatively typical of what our group sites are like across the state. as you notice, there were security guards on the way in that are either ontrack did by -- contracted by the contractors that built the group site or rectally by fema. -- directly by fema. reporter: where did all these trailers come from? jim: they were purchased by fema. there were some contracts prior to the hurricane season. they could have come from anywhere. a majority came from indian appeared -- indiana. some of them were bought
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directly off of travel trailer lots. reporter: do know how much these go for? jim: there are about $10,000 apiece and that doesn't include the site preparation, the utilities, the hauling and the setup. that adds to the cost per unit. reporter: how did you pick this area? jim: we sent out strike teams to identify potential areas to put group sites. these strike teams came back with recommendations. they approached the owners of the land. then we went through a process with the city and city council to get those sites approved. and then we went through contracting and got the sites least. our contractors came in and built them. it is not a turnkey operation. there are a lot of steps to that. we are still finding those steps sometimes cumbersome as we try to build more sites across the city. reporter: are these first responders for this specific neighborhood, for this specific area? jim: i don't know. it would make sense that we
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would put them close to their stations. some of these moved off the crew ships. we house a lot of first responders on the cruise ship. >> how are you doing? reporter: you live here? >> i do. reporter: would like to see what one of these looks like. do you mind? >> sure. go ahead. reporter: how long have you been living here? >> since february.
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there we are. we have the bathroom back here. you see i have a lot of junk here. there is a lot of stuff to put in here. reporter: how many here sleep? >> this can take up to five. this converts to a bed and this converts to a bed and there is the bedroom back there. so five people at the most. reporter: where is your bedroom? >> the bedroom is right here. reporter: what is it like living here? >> i like living here. as a matter of fact, the people here are wonderful and warm.
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i gave two barbecues here already. we are going to do catfish on saturday. you are welcome if you want. the cooking here is good. it is great. we have cooks here. it is fun. i love it. i am not that far from my job. reporter: what is your job? >> i work with the waterboard. we work with the drainage comps. reporter: you are from new orleans? >> yes, i am. reporter: tell me about that. >> we came here -- we stayed through the storm. we lost 60 cycle power. our water supply was off. we were trapped inside the station. the water got almost of the third level of the station where we were. as the storm went over, the water began to settle down and we went to work.
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we had generators. we had to read the stage up and get them running. once we got them running, we got the pumps running. we run the pumps 24 hours, around the clock for a whole month. it was quite an experience. reporter: where was your home? >> in the gentilly area. got messed up. you had people coming in there and there was that understood going on. reporter: what is the status of it, your home now? >> i lived in an apartment. i'm not sure if the landlord -- he hasn't done anything to it yet as of yet. i much or if he is going to do anything to it. i don't know. i will probably relocate somewhere else outside this paris maybe. because new orleans, i may come
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i never see nothing like that in my life. i was here for betsy. they had guys who got us on boats and we went to the claiborne bridge and we said if there -- we stayed up there until the water went down. katrina was worse. reporter: what were you paying in rent of the place where you are living? >> i had a one-bedroom. i was paying $995. but i don't know now. everything is going up. reporter: we have heard that the rental market is quite high. >> they are so in demand right now. supply and demand, that is what it is.
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reporter: can you go over again what the setup is here, first responders, will kind of assistance you are getting, when that will end. jim: the temporary housing assistance will end after 18 months. then people would be asked to pay rent on their trailers. again, i'm not real sure what is going to happen at the end of 18 months at this point. but at this point, the guidance is they will be expected to pay rent on the trailers. reporter: 18 months will be up when? jim: in february. this travel trailer park was established for first responders and folks like nate who have to be here to keep the city running and be ready for the next storm or even a rainstorm, to keep it
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pumped out. like you said, we live in a bowl. reporter: nothing happened with your job. you still have your job. >> yes, sir. next month, it will be 20 years on the job. i love what i do. reporter: what is your impression as you drive around the city? >> wow, you know. devastation, man. everything is happening so slow. i can understand. you've got to get the funds and so forth. there is a lot of red tape to get things moving. i guess it will come back pretty soon. me, myself, i already know a couple people who committed suicide already, seeing the devastation of this city, emily -- family displaced everywhere. two of my coworkers that i work
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with committed suicide. me, i have high spirits, me, myself. i just know things are going to come back. not be like it was before. but it will come back. reporter: what about family? do you have a lot still here in new orleans? >> i did lose a brother. i only have a niece and a nephew here and that is it. everybody else is gone. i keep in contact with everyone. they are all over the country. chicago, florida, texas, oklahoma. everywhere. i keep in contact. reporter: what about things that a lot of people outside of new orleans take for granted, shopping, gasoline, electricity, laundromats, all those types of amenities -- has that changed?
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>> yeah. a lot of people took things for granted. now, we have those things in very small supply. we have very few stores opening and businesses and so forth. it will be a slow process coming back. but you just have to deal with it. you just have to readjust your life. that is what i have done. i have readjusted my life to where things are now. it is very difficult for other people to do that. they are so used to be able to go to the store at night. two or three month after the storm, things were closing by 6:00 or 7:00. you get off of work and everything is closed. but now they are starting to stay up until 9:00, 10:00. like i said. it is slowly coming back. slowly, for sure. reporter: your friend who committed suicide, was it a
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direct result of katrina? >> yes. i think it was a direct result of katrina. seen the devastation. a lot of people were depressed. after the storm, there were a lot of people on that boat. there were people coming back and forth from houston, texas to here. she killed herself. i think it was going to houston, not liking it out there, coming back here and doing this devastation, you know, a lot of people went through some things with their insurance companies and all that kind of stuff. so many things i had to deal with and family all over the country, friends. that's why i try to give stuff here where people can mix and mingle and develop friendships. like catfish rise, barbecues, for the people at this site. they are developing friendships and they are exchanging numbers and they can talk about it.
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yeah, i think it was a direct result of katrina, these people who have taken their lives. it's a sad thing. reporter: thank you. the fema trailer program, the fema trailer parks have come under so much scrutiny. fema got so much bad press about them. why? jim: in the early days, we probably weren't as prepared as we should have been to get this going. i don't think anyone likes being confined to a trailer to begin with. but it is the option we have available for temporary housing at this point in time. maybe one day we will have something better. congress appropriated $400 million to look at alternative trailer solutions or alternatives to this temporary solution for housing. we are ready to kick off the program in the gulf states and
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looking for ideas to better house people. you've got to remember, we put out about 140,000 of these among the states in the gulf and that is what event. -- quite a bit. reporter: any mistakes with this program? jim: i would say the only mistakes we made was not being fully prepared. reporter: and with fema trailers being of such interest to the press, what is the policy with the press coming into these places? jim: our policy right now is that the press can come in as long as they show valid vessels. -- valid credentials. just as you would in any neighborhood, we don't stand in anyone's way. reporter: you provide security for all of these parks? jim: we do. either through the contractors who built them or direct security contracted by fema area
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-- by fema. announcer: next, a look at the lower ninth ward where the walls were breached. >> going over the industrial canal over to the lower ninth. and over to the left, that is the major break where that new concrete wall is. sort of ground zero. if you recall, there was a barge sitting up in that green stage -- green space. we talked earlier, mark, about this road clayborn being the dividing line of where the utility services have been provided and where they haven't. on the right side, you will see some travel trailers on private sites because there are utility to -- utilities available now. generally on the north side, the utilities are not dependable
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enough to for travel trailers -- to put travel trailers back in. another debris truck on its way. that is where they are working. they are doing the asbestos removal. a lot of the homes here were built with asbestos shingles. as you know, there is a whole process involved in taking care of hazardous material.
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you can see some of the puddles here are a result of a break from the water lines. that all adds to the challenges of getting utilities in here. the electricity is probably still not on, obviously. gas lines remain compromised. but we are pretty close to ground zero where the water just flowed right through here. if you look at it from the air, you will see a clear spot because all of those houses were demolished in place.
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reporter: what about for the inhabitants of this area? i do know if it is a local, state, federal holocene. -- federal policy. is it allowed for them to come back in. jim: i cannot speak for the city or the parish. as far as fema is concerned, we will not put travel trailers are mobile homes on-site that don't have viable utilities. we just can't do that. that is why you do not see them here. by the same token, the lack of utilities is probably going to slow development. my thought is that, right now, i don't think the city or parish is sure what will happen in the ninth word, and this area in particular.
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there are a lot fewer cars now. those are being removed and salvaged and scrapped as they are picked up. reporter: do you know about when this was completed? jim: i think their target date was 1 june, the beginning of hurricane season. and they met it, too. the corps of engineers, if they were here, they would tell you it was built in a different design from the wall that was here before.
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>> the way we see the ninth ward, it is not for us to say whether it should be built or rebuilt. it is reasonable to ask that they have a flood system that is going to work. but when you see this just a few blocks up the road, there is the holy cross and all of the vacant housing. you would think, well, first things first. maybe get people to higher ground. because that house cannot be
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rebuilt. it is not possible. and you can still smell that death smell. you will notice it later when someone tells you you smell bad. this is the kind of house where they are still finding people. because they cannot go in there until they demolish it very and when they tear down a house like that, they bring the dogs first. that is a typical house where they would find a body still. this is, you know, this is really the shame of it really. a year after the event, the president should come down here and be ashamed. this is in america.
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still. all of this should have been dealt with. all of these people should have restitution or some kind of housing. you cannot bring a trailer down here. there is no electricity, no water, nothing. and i don't think you need an expert to tell you -- reporter: [indiscernible] sue: oh, yeah. that this is uninhabitable. there is a container from a ship. these would have been homes, primarily working-class people. it is a misnomer that the ninth ward was the hood or the worst part of town. it wasn't. this was a good neighborhood, very stable. but a lot of working people, a lot of elderly. that is a lot of deaths. a lot of the deaths that occurred with the drowning people here were elderly people who for a lot of reasons don't
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evacuate. they do have anywhere to go. -- do not have anywhere to go. you can't pry them from their homes. they don't want to leave their pets. it is extremely difficult. so anyone who stayed down here lost their lives. reporter: we can see what it looks like now. how much different as a look now than it did in those couple of months after the storm? how much has been cleaned up down here? sue: oh, my goodness, it's a hundred times better. for the first five or six months after the storm, there were homes where we are standing in the street. and there were some twisted homes over by the wall. that was wide open. there was a giant barge here on the road on top of the school bus for months and months. and that was quite an undertaking, to float that they -- that thing on an actual sidewalk or a street. yeah, there were homes here, but
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they were all over the place. on top of each other, close to the levee break. it is almost like his huge wall of water hit. it was like the evil head of mother nature pushing everything its path and eight large cluster. it almost resembled water, the ocean, this big wave on how this twists and house on top of one another. you could not come down here for a long time and you can't live down here. there is no infrastructure whatsoever. but the fact that it is cleaned up and it doesn't smell like death or you don't need a mask to come down here. the disaster is such that i don't know that anyone could have coped with it that would have satisfied everybody.
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it is well documented. it has been very well documented and you can see that not enough has been done. we have in the city a great amount of progress. but this is not an overnight solution. down here in this area, it would be good to see more things done. it would be good to get money in people's hands are deserve it. it would be good to have neighborhood plans that are all buttoned up. but when you are talking about 80% of a large city, you can't expect miracles. you won't find a lot of people who will say that the government response at any level was anything to be proud of. reporter: what is your opinion, if you were to come to this neighborhood a year from now? will there be people living here? is this ground zero and it is not going to come back or years?
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sue: this is really one of three ground zeros that we have in orleans. this is the one that has garnered the most attention. this is really where you saw evidence of it in the most dramatic manner. no one will know what will happen a year from now. a year ago, my goodness, a year ago at this time, i think i was at the pool. never could have imagined what would happen. and then the event happened. couldn't imagine that it would just go on and on and on. i think the city will just have what we feel like is a low-grade fever for a very long time, this underlying distress, this grinding and difficulty. but it's worth it. we feel it is worth it to live here. and the city has a great future. there are also great opportunities here. we can fix things that needed to be fixed.
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few cities have an opportunity to start over. it's just depends on how much our government and our business leaders and civic leaders will continue to support us. our country does not get tired of us, in a years time, i would like to see some sort of plan for this area. it may be to the bennis -- the benefit of this area to not have development at this time. reporter: how is the city approaching different areas? is there a grand plan at this point on how to redevelop these neighborhoods? sue: the initial plan that was started immediately after everybody got back had a lot of consultants and recommendations.
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the urban land institute was in charge of that. and they really recommended that we start rebuilding in the original city footprint. and that is the crescent on high ground, like the holy cross, as you have seen. so their recommendation was tied geographical areas and neighborhoods where the infrastructure and the housing stock, you know, was more repairable than you might be down here. -- see down here. the city issued a report with what they called priority for rebuilding. it didn't all happen because these are private properties, private homes. whether a house can come back or what will happen to the house
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will depend on the homeowner and that homeowner's own individual financial and other resources. but the city has a planning commission. they are understaffed, like everything is here. but the city's plan is what we have been doing for the last year, which is neighborhoods need to get organized. neighborhoods need to prove their viability. mr. nagin was very controversial when he said that. people were saying, why should we have to prove our viability? it seemed very unfair. but when you look at it and you look at what has happened in some of the other neighborhoods that are coming back, maybe we did not have the best job if he -- geography or maybe they didn't have a lot of wealthy
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people who could afford it who are doing tremendous work. people bother viability from the people who live in that neighborhood with their determination and severe as that proved a neighborhoods viability. so in the end, a neighborhoods strength is not due to the brick-and-mortar in the buildings. it is due to the residents and homeowners and how much they believe in coming home. announcer: the holy cross area of the lower ninth ward was flooded but did not receive as much water as other parts of the ward. jim stark from fema talks with us about their efforts in the neighborhood. jim: we are still in the lower ninth ward. this is where modern utilities have been restored. some trailers have been placed
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on private sites here. reporter: what is the process they have to go through to get one of these? jim: applicants apply for the trailer. they call for the one 800 number and call for a trailer to be placed on their best site. that a contract team will come out and make sure the site is viable, that it has hook up to water and electricity and gas. reporter: what do you normally tell folks about the timeframe it takes to get one? jim: generally, 30 to 60 days. that is a long time. in nearly days, there was a backup as we had so much demand. now the sites are harder and harder to make ready and there are fewer and fewer of them. reporter: what about the size of them themselves? are you dependent on the number of people in your family? jim: it is a number of factors. the size of the lot. if you've got a large family and you can accommodate a mobile
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home, then we will place a mobile home there is that of a -- rather than a travel trailer. reporter: what about size -- justin: i believe that will be about three or four people. reporter: and the terms with these are different from the trailer parks. jim: this is still temporary. our commitment is for 18 months on these. reporter: if this goes beyond 15 months and you are not staying at a hotel. jim: typically, within the 18 months, some will find what is a permanent housing solution. it looks like a couple of these houses are pretty close to being completed.
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i imagine pretty soon they will call our one 800 number and one of our contractors will take the trailer away. reporter: what about you personally? you lived in new orleans before this ever happened. what are some of your personal and pressing -- outside the job -- impressions outside the job and the future of the city. jim: i grew up in a place that was high and dry. a lot of the structures suffered wind damage. there were a lot of travel trailers. i think a lot of them are families who may have been does neighborhoods like this, who have relatives on the other bank of the river. or camping out, for lack of a better term, in their relatives yards. personally, we did very well on the west. we talked about it the fortunate that things went that way.
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i came back and i am committed to the city and the job i am doing now. it is discouraging at times to see the slow pace of recovery. we talked earlier about the pace of recovery and other disasters . this one overshadows the size and magnitude of any of the other was before. ones before. hurricane andrew took two years before miami was back on its feet, especially the homestead area and we can see that here. it will take turns. i think early on, our response was -- we were slow in responding. there were some command and control issues that needed to be worked out ahead of time. again, the sheer magnitude caught everyone unaware and mistakes were made early on. and it should not be blamed on fema, quite frankly.
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with the hurricane season, we are much better prepared to move right in. announcer: a couple of blocks away is another part of the holy cross neighborhood where rebuilding efforts have taken place. sue: when the consultants first came and helped us ring the best bring -- helped us with the bring new orleans back , the initial recommendation, which states a whole lot of sense, was to rebuild on the higher geography, where there was a lot of housing before the storm that needed to be -- they still have no telephone service here.
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this is where garbage pickup is almost nonexistent. there is no mail service. the mail is picked up at the school. i mean, this is really -- you are a real urban pioneer to be here. this house, we are going to fix this house. this house will look as good as that house. that one is completely done and the homeowner is living in the house. she is struggling and not happy with some things area several years ago, the person who bought it, it flooded to -- the person who bought it, she could not have afforded to own a home otherwise. and she flooded. with her insurance proceeds, she did a lot of nice of rate. -- nice upgrades. not only did she repair the
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home, but she had these nice shutters and things installed and has worked really, really hard. she is the only one on this block living here full-time. this block is as far as you can see there and as far as you see there. there are a few homes that people are getting ready to occupy. but there is only a handful of people that are living in holy cross for now. there is no reason for this not to have been a focus area, especially since so many people in the lower ninth ward lost everything and have absolutely no ability to return. when you have blighted and that peopleoperties are selling for no money, that those cannot be let back into service and repopulated. so many people on the other side of claiborne avenue that really
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are lost. that is what breaks my heart, personally. all of these are really good houses. half of them don't belong to anybody. reporter: let's walk down this way. sue: ok. this neighborhood has the whole mix of architectural styles. hi, we are with a preservation resource center. we are doing some houses, fixing that house and a whole bunch of houses. >> i was on the bridge -- on my roof when they called. water came in eight minutes. reporter: where are you living now? >> i just got a trailer. i am working at the same time. i rent out a room.
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it was scary. i stood on the roof for about a day. a guy came out with a vote. -- with a boat. he picked us up. he brought us to the school. we stayed there for 12 hours. the coast guard brought us to the bridge. they had buses and trucks. [indiscernible] seven days. [indiscernible] we were cooking for everybody. but that sunday morning when they really made us leave -- it was time to go. you couldn't do nothing.
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reporter: [indiscernible] >> two on my block. and i have one of the nicest blocks on the side. instead of putting a trailer down there, i called them and they said my trailer was there . it took them three weeks to hook it up. sue: don't you think that this area, being on such high ground and so many homes that nobody has been living in and can be fixed that the people over in your neighborhood, in that part of the lower nine, where their house is gone --
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if people want to stay in the community -- holy cross should be fixed up. they had a lot of people over there. i went in that trailer -- i was in the middle of the bridge. >> this neighborhood is so great. the easiest neighborhood to get into service and there are so many problems. somebody is working on this.
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are they going to come back? oh really? [inaudible] reporter: do you have phone service? >> cell phones. no cable. >> is reverend troy there now? he needs to know we are working in the neighborhood and not stealing like so many people are. the thieves are sophisticated. they know what they are doing and how to dismantle a bracket. the national guard patrols here but they are very slick. they have a fake letter from a homeowner that says we can take these things. they can't stop them because there is no homeowner around to verify.
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reporter: you talked about the woman who moved into the house. >> it is very negative. i hate to say it. on the record. reporter: what is going on? >> she was broken into, no phone. the usual suspects of life in neighborhoods here. there is a rat problem. she has had a rat infestation. the rats attacked her dog and she had to take her dog to the vet. that is her last straw. i know she won't leave. she is strong and independent, but she is a single gal living on her own and she has weathered everything in the neighborhood that has happened. the one thing she can't stand is rats in her house.
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river rats. the rats have so much. this is disney world to a rat. you don't have any people or rat bait to chase them away and they they can forage for all kinds of things because so much of this neighborhood -- you can tell by the smell people have not addressed inside things in their refrigerator, who knows? >> what are the markings? this is search and rescue markings. this is such a painful reminder for everyone that lives here. love it when people come back and the first thing they do is they paint over this. iss marking here, the top the date they came to do the search and rescue.
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the left side is the agency or the inspection. maybe at troop number there. -- ne means no entry. the bottom quadrant is how many were found dead. unfortunately, they are still finding bodies here just about every week because there could the atticy stuck in or the house collapsed or it is really unsafe. here is something we're thrilled to see. getting this church back shows faith in the neighborhood. they cannot get trailers down here, even though they have been begging for them. >> there aren't any trailers. they had to wait for
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electricity. was under look and leave order until the month of may. 4:00an't be here after p.m. so no one was allowed to spend the night in this neighborhood until the middle of may. ow?are you doing jack this is robert, mr. bennett's son. when are you going to get done? your mom is going to the done when you -- come home when you get done. >> what are you doing? >> you go ahead.
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why are you tearing the feeling down. the ceiling down? >> that news. where are you living right now? >> a trailer. about four blocks. a trailer park? >> in front of another house. my daughter staying in there. >> you are coming back to the neighborhood. i am not blaming anybody for that. people have flood insurance. that's a lot of people did not have it. >> one year later, what is it >> it is nicee? to be back home. the whole city was devastated. you have the whole city. almost 200,000 people.
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it could be better. waiting on the grant. >> waiting on a grant from who? orleans? by the time i got the roof fixed. i paid my bills. >> what is your impression of the government sponsor this whole thing? fix before it was just the ninth ward, but now the whole state of louisiana. >> you do not blame blame -- fema or the government? >> no, they did the best they can. it was something big, not something small. along have you been living here?
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>> about 70 years. i bought the house here. >> what is the biggest challenges right now? >> money. buying sheet rock. the electric. everything. >> how long you think it will take to get it fixed up? >> it will take long. just get the money. >> where can you go for groceries and other types of things? >> across the bridge. a lot of places across the bridge. restaurants. her last stop in the lower ninth ward was at a place called the musicians village, a site being developed by habitat for humanity. sara evans of habitat for
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humanity spoke with us there. >> musicians village is a chance for musicians and nonmusicians to have affordable housing. the mission of safe, decent and affordable housing for families in need. it is an opportunity for that. there is a keystone project, that is the ellis morale is community center that will be located across the corner from here. the idea is there will be classrooms and practice rooms so can musicians who live here teach the children, their children and the teacher of musicians and patch on the cold -- pass on the cultures of new orleans. >> this was the brainchild of eris morale us and harry connick. before theve houses storm with habitat for humanity.
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>> when did it start? how does it work? >> we started building on this lot on june 1. we now have about 27 homes under construction. we will be dedicating the -- three have already been dedicated, we will dedicate another 30 lots on this side on august 19. there are 33 families, 11 of them are musicians here locally. once the 30 houses are complete, we will build on the interior of this 40 lots. some of those lots will be elder friendly, duplexes. those will not be sold. those the rentals -- will be rentals. that will make sure the older generations have affordable housing options.
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there will be 40 more homeowners going on this lot. the musicians village concept is bigger then this particular core area. this is because core, our focus is the upper ninth ward in the next 1-3 years. we will be sustaining our building projects. we are committed here and will keep building. robert: why the upper ninth ward? sara: like every other neighborhood it needs revitalization. robert: have you qualify or apply? sara: the first step would be requesting the initial application. there are three stages. the first of is a credit check, the second is a loan application, the third is a home visit. those will assess the need. they do a home visit where we go to their home, and assess their need for shelter. we take those factors into
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consideration. reporter: what has katrina done to the entertainment industry here? has it affected it? >> katrina has done an immense amount of damage to the musical community. what katrina has done is caused a cultural diaspora. our culture has been sprinkled out all over the country instead of concentrated in new orleans. we are all over the place now. in some sense that is a good thing. we are like cultural ambassadors. we bring new orleans to areas where they were previously not notice. -- noticed. now, we are spreading our culture throughout the united states. >> people are good musicians from here.
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half of them cannot read music, but that does not stop them from playing. >> new orleans has been a musical community ever since i can remember. it has an amount relation -- a modulation of different cultures. the african culture brought over here from africa, we have the irish to french. we have catholics and jews, protestants. now we have a growing asian culture as well as arabic culture. new orleans has always been a melting pot of cultures and this is how it affected the music. when you get these ingredients together, you get a good gumbo. [laughter] reporter: you say that is good. >> our music is different because the rhythms are syncopated. our rhythms are real syncopated.
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they come from africa and the caribbean. they are not straight up and down. [imitates beat] our music is [imitates] we are expressing it with their body movements. that is why people from new orleans dance like nobody else. we don't just jump up and down, we shake our booty and everything. >> you can see them around jazz fest and mardi gras. their suit might not look good, but they have a nice pair of shoes on and they are ready to dance. robert: you said it is a good thing because you are spreading new orleans. >> in some sense it is not so good because we need our musicians and artists to come home so they can preserve our culture and traditions and pass it on to the younger generations.
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this is going to be a difficult task if everybody is spread out. the object of musicians village is to get our artists to come back and reinvigorate our culture and pass it down. the culture is an integral part of new orleans. without it new orleans is going to suffer tremendously. in regards to terrorism, and other related industries. ♪[harmonica] announcer: as you travel west from the ninth ward, you come along the lakeview area. this main canal did not hold up. sue sperry from the preservation research center of new orleans drove us through.
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sue: essentially when you have a levee break or a flood protection wall collapse, in this case they came unhinged from underneath. it is like turning a water hose onto a place. one street over there is this one little sad thing. just in the vacant lot. polluting over here has been awful. people steal everything. mailboxes, windows, shutters. plant material. i don't know how long those tvs heri don't know how long those tvs have been there. the cops may kick us out of here. reporter: the army corps of will engineer is doing work over there. plant material.
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i don't know how long those tvs have been there. the cops may kick us out of here. will reporter: the army corps of will engineer is doing work over there. sue: they are doing all the work. announcer: the army corps of engineer's is constructing flood control devices to prevent another occurrence of flooding. we talked to an official at the corp. >> on the left is where the breach occurred. what happened here, unlike what happened in the industrial canal, the water was in up to the top of the floodwall.
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the floodwall collapsed. that produced flooding on the protective side. similar breaches occurred on the london avenue canal. robert: what has been done? >> we have done two things, we made a temporary repair to those locations. the primary thing is what you see behind me. we no longer have to rely on floodwalls to protect against storm surges. we still need those because under conditions where the structure behind us has to be closed, when there is a storm surge greater than five feet, we have to have those canals to
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contain that water. >> what is behind you? >> on the 17th street canal, it is one of the canals that convenes rainwater to the lake. behind you is either side of that there is a floodwall. that floodwall failed. because we didn't believe we could rely on those floodwalls, what we are doing here is constructing a temporary closure that will take those floodwalls out of the line of protection. we have to make provisions for water to be pumped out of the city. in addition to this temporary closure behind me there are pumps installed in the temporary closure.
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what we have been doing since katrina is making work tears -- since katrina is making repairs to the levee system damage during katrina. that system, 41 miles to sustain some damage. the work that we have completed today is only 20% of everything congress has appropriated funds for us to do. in addition to the repairs, some still ongoing, there is an effort to rebuild levees. all of south louisiana is sinking. none of the projects in the metropolitan area have been completed. there is an additional slate of features that will improve the system and provide a durable system so that the kinds of things we experienced with this be less likely. in other part of the effort is a look at providing higher levels of protection.
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and yet another part is a look at providing even higher levels of protection. congress authorized to do this. they gave us six months to complete it. the thing that we know from that, although it is hard to draw a conclusion about what the future is, providing a higher level of protection will mean doing things that are fundamentally different. reporter: 11 months later, we are in hurricane season now, a lot of people still do not believe [inaudible] what is your opinion? >> if another katrina took place exactly as katrina happened, following the track that katrina took, many areas that were
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flooded would be flooded again. it is a reality that katrina was an enormous powerful storm. it overwhelmed the system. that would unfortunately happen again. some of the things that happened like the failures on the outfall canals, we are protected against those now. sue: on holy cross, it came and went, here it stayed for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. reporter: what kind of neighborhood was this question mark middle-class? sue: this was high net worth. these homes were expensive. you can see a little mcmansioning. even a house like that, actually, even a house like that was $250,000, which is a lot. considering it is a tiny house. these nicer ones, these newer
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ones, closer to the lake, the more expensive. these are 300 $50,000-400 $50,000 houses. -- $350,000-$450,000 houses. the two-story ones, ones with a pool. this neighborhood is very challenged. again, they are severely damage. they have a very strong neighborhood association. they have done a lot. we have been working with them. we have been working with them quite a bit.
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south lakeview is a historic district coming back. late fee will be back -- lakeview will be back. it will take a while because of the damage. most of the people here had insurance, they have more means. this land will always be valuable because of where it is. again, when people say give us category five levees, we will do the rest. reporter: it is pretty deserted. sue: it is. this is where the wealthier lived. i am almost afraid to go and visit other family members and other cities or go out of town. i don't want to feel normal again, until we are normal here. i do not want to get a normal life and everything to be perfect. i don't want the influence to not come back. i am staying.
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if i compare this time six months ago, 9, 10, 11 months ago, we have come a long way. i could not believe what i was seeing a month after. look at it. we have cars on the roads. when this was -- this was a road where people were sleeping and dying. we have rush-hour. i never thought i would be happy to say it. we have traffic. we have stuff open. reporter: are you optimistic one year later? sue: i am very optimistic. i would not live here if i was not.
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i do have family and other cities i could live in, perfectly good cities like atlanta. i am optimistic that the city will come back and be strong, and attract business. we will prosper economically. the one thing i worry about is will we preserve that culture. our architecture, our culture, food, can we preserve that? the city is not an insular little city anymore. we have people coming in from everywhere. the city will change. we just want it to change in the right direction.
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we want to preserve all of the great things. and fix all of the things that should be fixed. i think we can be a best practice for urban planning. this has never been attempted before. no one has ever had this tragedy of opportunity like we have a new orleans. -- in new orleans. you have not since the civil war, certainly not in modern times wiped the slate clean and started over. how should the city be planned? how should it function? this is an opportunity that is very unique in the united states. i don't want to see addressed in type thing -- of -- a dresden type thing. i don't want the fabric and character to change. that is what i loved about it. that is why came -- i came. reporter: think you ran much -- thank you very much.
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the new york times tweeted out these six are showing hurricane katrina flooding. the times writing the newer aliens that went under in the surging waters of hurricane katrina has not returned. saturday is the 10 year anniversary of hurricane katrina hitting the gulf coast. the hurricane 3 -- this three thousand and nearly 2000 were killed. a year after the c-span sent a crew to the region to look at the recovery. at st. bernard parish. here is a portion of what you will see tonight. believe a hard thing to that the united states of america is spending nearly one billion per week in iraq, and here in new orleans united we are being neglected.
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beg and do we have to plead with our president, our congressmen, our elected leaders to tell them we need help when it is on the media every day? the united states of america. the young lady mentioned earlier we did rebuild japan after destroying japan. this is a very specific cultural divide. i love new orleans. residentseans reacting to government hurricane response. you can see the entire town hall meeting with hurricane katrina starting at 8:00 eastern. r of st. bernard
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parish. president obama will be in new orleans to talk about the rebuilding a year later. coverage tomorrow afternoon. on friday, washington journal will spend the morning delving into the 10th anniversary of hurricane katrina talking with live from new orleans including the former mayor and official with army corps of engineer and the editor of the new orleans times jim amos. washington journal ride morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. in 2005 the u.s. house held a hearing in the weight of hurricane katrina to find out how victims. this is just over two hours.
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>> good afternoon. several weeks ago i was asked to focus on the african-american voice related to hurricane katrina. with that request in mind and having already planned a hearing, today we hope to better understand the experiences of gulf coast residents, including those forced to evacuate. only by hearing those -- from those most directly by hurricane katrina can we determine where and how the government responded at all levels that were so terribly inadequate. wide-reaching debate on larger societal issues, some have suggested race and class factors contributed to the government's inadequate response and this hearing will examine those issues more closely. the committee's also aware some witnesses today wish to discuss their or their organization's goals, interests, challenges
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related to the longer term recovery and rebuilding of the gulf coast. while the committee is not charged with investigating issues surrounding long-term recovery in the region, house, education, divisions for the future of new orleans, we can and should review how decisions made or not made right before, during after after the storm will effect longer term challenges. therefore, the committee will hear testimony from individuals and organizations representing effected communities on how government preparation and response effected the long-term challenge of rebuilding the gulf coast. witnesses will testify about what specific challenges they believe the gulf coast and new orleans in particular now face. little question katrina sparked renewed debate about race and class and institutional approaches to toward vulnerable population groups in the united states. in the aftermath of the storm a wide array of media reports, public statements, polls, underscored this reality. in a september 15 speech to the nation, president bush touched on the issue. as all of us saw on television, there is also
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some deepercies tent poverty in the region as well. that poverty has roots in discrimination which cut off generations from the opportunity of america, the president said. since then the debate has become increasingly heated. while visiting new orleans shelters jesse jackson quoted as saying it's like looking at the hole of a slave ship. louis farrakhan said in a interview with fox news, in that levee there was a 2 foot hole which suggested it may have been blown soup water would destroy the black part of the town. while not all commentary has necessarily been constructive, accurate or fair, the committee believe it is issue warrants further discussion, especially within the context of understanding the experiences of those caught inside the storm, and within the context of maebing sure government response is superior the next time. we know from e-mails and other documents from federal, state, local officials that they were almost immediately sensitive to public perceptions of race as a factor in the inadequate response. a aide to louisiana governor blanco cautioned colleagues
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about how to respond to a request from representative maxine waters for security escorts in new orleans shortly after the storm. please handle this very carefully, aide johnny anderson wrote, we're getting bad enough national press on race relations. e-mails reviewed by the committee from aides to rm toer fema director brown reflected similar concerns. a cnn gallup poll from september 8 to 11 reported that 60% of african-americans but only 12% of whites believe race was a factor in the slow response to katrina. another poll by the pew research center found 7 in 10 blacks believe the disaster showed racial inequality remains a major problem in america, a majority of whites disagreed. november survey of 46 katrina evacuees published by the national hazard center at the university of colorado boulder concluded issues of race and class were central to evacuation experiences. for many the' rackuation process was complicated by
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age, mental, physical disability, need to care for dependents, material possessions they were trying to take with them. "the washington post", the kaiser family foundation and harvard university conducted face-to-face interviews with 680 randomly selected adult evacuees in houston. when asked is your experience made you feel like the government cares about people like you or has made you feel like the government doesn't care, 61% reported they felt the government doesn't care. additionally the evacuees suggested an intersection between race and class. 68% of respondents thought the federal government would have responded more quickly if more people trapped in the flood waters were wealthier and white rather than poorer and black. in an early november forum at emerson college, louis alisa, reportedly suggested that race had to be a factor in the inadequate response. quote, i'm telling you as professional that you could not have had a mistake of this nation if something else -- nature if something
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else is not afoot. whether or not one believes races charges are well founded the committee should discuss the socioeconomic and racial backdrop against which katrina unfolded. brookings institute reported in october, new orleans which once had economically and demographically diverse neighborhoods grew segregated by race and income by the time of the storm. as a result, brookings conclude, blacks and whites were living in quite literally different worlds before the storm hit. at the very least the committee should further he can splor at this hearing how socioeconomic factors contributed to the experiences of those directly affected by the storm. the uc boulder survey found almost all interview wees described the process as disorderserly, disorganized with minimal communication about where evacuees were heading, when the next transportation would arrive. this created a state of uncertainty, insecurity. predominantly working class african-americans did not evacuate because they did not have the financial resources to do so. the committee hopes to learn more about whether government messages to gulf
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coast residents about the dangers of the coming hurricane could have been presented in a more effective manner, a question of which also carries racial and socioeconomic implications. if you don't hear the message from someone you trust, you tend to be skeptical, margaret sims, vice president of the center for economic studies told a magazine. if you get conflicting information from people you're not sure of, inaction may be the most prudent form of action from your perspective. the same magazine article notes disaster response may have been hampered by not taking the circumstances of area residents in to account. the people created the verbal image measures don't take in to account access of physical barriers to opportunities in certain communities said linda, director of the center for risk communication research at the university of maryland. in other words, the committee should examine to what extent problems stem from messengers and the message. we'll also hear about the events that reportedly transpired in gretna, on september 1, 2005, three
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days after hurricane katrina made landfall, thousands of new orleans evacuees attempted to cross the river, the greater new orleans bridge to gretna, a suburb in jefferson parish, approximately 2/3 white. news reports indicate evacuees believe gretna could provide a refuge but three police agencies blocked entrance to the west bank, former evacuees that gretna was not prepared to provide food, water, shelter. gretna mayor reported in addition to being unable to accommodate evacuees, we are concerned about life and property, it was quite evident a criminal element was contained in the crowd of probably mainly decent people, unquote. also quoted as saying this was not a 9/11 tragedy with good heartedness all around. had you ann narc key and civil disowed bead yens. the city council passed a resolution supporting the police chief decision to block the bridge. since then bret that officials criticized for what some have seen as racially motivated denial of assistance, beginning of
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november our colleague mcdonald's kinney introduced legislation that would deny federal funding that blocked access to gretna. controversy over the decision illustrates the speculation about whether race played a role in the response to hurricane katrina. as i said before, hard not to point fingers and assign blame in the aftermath of tragedy. i understand human nature, and i understand politics. but i think most americans want less carping and more compassion. i think most americans want a rational, thoughtful, bipartisan review of what went wrong and what went right. i think most americans want to know we'll be prepared better the next time. to get there, we need to acknowledge the fact that disasters bring out the best and yes, sometimes the worst in people. in the possibility that different people may hear different things when they're elected officials are telling them to evacuate, that we need to have a better understanding of the reality to ground so missed information does not evolve in to overt racism. members will have seven days
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to submit written statements for the record, i ask unanimous consent mr. taylor, mississippi, mr. malone laugh larks mr. jefferson, louisiana, ms. mckinney of about georgia, bobby scott be permitted to participate today and without objection, so ordered. anyone else like to make an opening statement? ms. mckinney? >> thank you, mr. chairman. first of all, i want to thank you for allowing us to have this very important hearing today. this is an opportunity for us to crystallize exactly what the katrina experience was all about. it was about the lives of the people in the gulf states. it was about the people who are the witnesses here today who are going to tell their story before this committee, before this congress. and i hope that we will adopt legislation that will make their lives easier, that will redress the problems that they are going to outline for us today.
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i want to thank the members who have come in to washington, d.c. early so that they could participate in this committee meeting today. today is about the citizens who were except up in the storm and it's their opportunity to speak. i would like to take the opportunity to recognize there are three people out in the audience, one of woman is reverend yearwood with the hip hop caucus who joined me in a park in new orleans and we were determined to do something that was denied the people of new orleans who were trying to seek high ground. some people sunk to low ground and we were determined to change that. and so we crossed the gretna
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bridge and i want to acknowledge the people who made that crossing here with us today. i want to set the stage for the racism, for the role that racism had and played in the daily presence of the lives of the people that are testifying here today. racism is something we don't like to talk about, but we have to acknowledge it. and the world saw the effects of american style racism in the drama as it was outplayed by the katrina survivors. it is reported that during the 1980s, jefferson parish sheriff harry lee ordered special scrutiny for any black people traveling in white sections of the parish. he is quoted by the new orleans as having said it's obvious two young blacks driving a rinky dink car in a predominantly white
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neighborhood, they'll be stopped. in 1994 the gambit report sheriff lee withdrew his officers from a predominantly black neighborhood after protests erupted when two black men died while in his care. he is reported to have said to hell with them, i haven't heard one word of support from one black person. in april of this year, blacks complained that jefferson parish officers using a caricature of a black man for target practice. sheriff lee laughed when presented the charges and is reported to have commented, i looked at it, i don't find it offensive and i have no interest in correcting it. in may of this year, a 16- year-old joy rider in a stolen car was murdered when 110 shots were fired in to the stolen truck striking the 16-year-old and injuring two other teenage passengers. in response to criticism from black ministers over the incident, sheriff lee is reported to have responded, they can kiss my ass.
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i don't talk like that but i'm quoting the sheriff. city of gretna police chief arthur larson is equally impressive. his justification for trapping katrina survivors in new orleans is he is reported to have said, if we have opened the bridge our city would have looked like new orleans does now, looted, burned and pillaged. eyewitnesses report that before they were close enough to speak, officers began firing their weapons over the heads of new orleans survivors. other officers are reported to have said that they wanted no superdomes in their city. no wonder reverend yearwood and i were threatened with ar when we crossed the bridge that had been closed to new orleans residents trying to escape katrina's flood waters. dr. king said that racism, poverty and war were the
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three pillars of injustice and i think it's very clear that racism, poverty and war have been unmasked in the american setting through what happened to the katrina survivors. the pentagon has admitted that the war did effect their response and it's now time for this congress to acknowledge and address the roles that racism and poverty played in the conditions facing black people in new orleans. this committee should recommend passage of the congressional black caucus legislation introduced in order to address the issues that katrina has exposed to us. including seriously addressing the issue of poverty in this country. i want to commend the
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witnesses for taking the time, the effort, the resources, the precious resources to come here and enlighten us today and i hope that we all will be listening. thank you, mr. chairman. >> ms. mckinney, thank you very much. any other members, your statements will be submitted to the record. >> thank you. mr. chairman, grateful that you responded to so positively to this hearing. i think it's absolutely essential in fact i want to say differently, the reason why i wanted to serve on this committee is the faces i saw, the families, the victims of katrina and we're hearing from just a very few families that have been effected, but this is why we have this hearing, to understand what you went through, understand why you went through it and to make sure it never, ever happens again. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. let me say to the witnesses, how grateful we are to have you here today.
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the story you tell, you're speaking for we know thousands of people in similar situations. it's our policy that we swear witnesses in before we testify. our witnesses today are mr. terrell williams, new orleans evacuee, owns a construction business, now living in washington, d.c.. ms. doreene kieler, also work for the no aids task force. ms. patricia thompson, attempted to cross the bridge to gretna, turned back by police. ms. lee hodges, new orleans evacuee who helped rescue elderly resident of a nursing home. and ms. diane french, new orleans community leader who did not evacuate and opened her home as a makeshift shelter. again, our policy we swear you in before you testify. if you would rise and raise your right hand. [oath administered] >> mr. williams, as i
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explained earlier, we have a light in front of you. the light goes on when you start. after four minutes it turns orange, red after five. i know what you have to say is important, feel you need to go a little bit after that, we understand. but we're trying to keep on a schedule as best we can. for those of you who have submitted written testimony, that entire testimony is part of the public record. mr. williams, we'll start with you and go straight down the line. again, thank you for taking the time to be with us. >> thank you. i live in -- >> there's a button you push right in front of you our microphone. try it. >> thank you. i lived in uptown new orleans, not far from memorial hospital. i finished paying for my house three years ago, started my own construction company. for the 18 years prior to that i was computer systems engineer at the national finance in new orleans as a federal employee. initially i decided not to
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evacuate because the storm was heading east of new orleans. my decision was rational at the time, especially given the fact that the hurricane itself caused little damage to my home. on saturday before the storm, i recall hearing the mayor ask, make one radio announcement calling for a mandatory evacuation. as katrina made landfall i listened to a battery powered radio. information i was getting was non-information essentially. the announcers were saying the same things, stay in your home, et cetera. after the storm passed through, radio announcers reporting horror stories from downtown including convention center and the superdome. people were also calling in with accounts of damage they had seen throughout the city. on monday, there was no real information about what the government was doing and i assumed the pumps were already working to pump water out of the city. on monday or tuesday i went to check on my mother, who
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was also living uptown. physically she was unharmed and hadn't needed to go to the attic or roof to escape the water. i'm a brother, i and my brother got her out with a raft. that point there was about ten feet of water in some areas and i was unable to return to my house. my brother took our mother to safety and i took a boat, left behind by fire rescue crews to my house. there was about six feet of water in my home, so i rescued my dog, returned to my mother's house. i was there for about a week until september 8th or so. at which point a rescue crew comprised of state and local police as well as armed military officers forced me to evacuate. they arrived in a truck and two tanks and confiscated my weapons. i didn't resist them and the officers weren't rough with me. as we were leaving my mother's house, the team came upon a group of teenage boys. the louisiana police officer
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told the teenagers they would have to evacuate. when the kids resisted, he and the military officers pulled guns on them. the officers then escorted the teenagers to their car and told them to leave. at first i felt it seemed excessive but looking back and considering all the stories about violence i understand why they did what they did. the rescue team took know the convention center, which at this point was mostly empty and from there i was immediately taken by helicopter to the airport. the airport was chaos with more soldiers there than evacuees. and we spent one night there. the next morning i was put on a delta 757 airplane, along with approximately 150 other evacuees. passengers weren't told where they were going until after the plane had taken off. some people were upset, most were just thankful to be leaving new orleans. they landed at dulles and were driven to the d.c.
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armory where people were outside cheering for us. the army was also chaotic, especially given the different backgrounds of all the evacuees. i saw people trying to buy drugs and knew not to leave my personal items lying around because they would be stolen. i didn't fear for my safety, however, because there were so many armed guards. even though the armory was unorganized, there was a lot of presence by groups like the american red cross, fema, at this point fema was already under scrutiny, strong families, hud, u.s. postal service, et cetera. the department of state was also there offering some evacuees jobs that would last for 120 days. i stayed at the armory for about a month until the beginning of october. i'm now living in southwest d.c., currently looking for a job with the federal government. my family has been spread out to such states as colorado, texas, alabama, north carolina. my ex-wife is hoping to
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return to new orleans, her house is in algiers, had minimal damage. thank you. >> thank you very much. ms. kieler. >> hello. my name is doreene kieler, my home is located at 5020 legions field avenue in new orleans. on saturday morning, august 28th, after watching news and weather reports the day, during the day, that day and during the week i decided to evacuate because of hurricane katrina. i contacted my in-laws, three senior citizens over 70 who refused to leave. my daughter and i prepared by disconnecting electrical items, placing treasured items on table tops, high shelves and adding to regular hurricane provisions. i went to my office to back up my computer and disconnect electrical equipment while my daughter went to the atm, got gas, started evacuation plan and
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the route. we convinced family to leave, packed the cars and headed east. this was 5:00 a.m. august 29. we listened to local news reports for as long as we had reception. local weathermen told viewers to leave, the mayor stressed leaving, but we were all well out of a louisiana by then. several hours later national news media reported that mayor nagin called for mandatory evacuation. i was surprised and frightened. we traveled to efbs georgia, arriving at 10:00 p.m. approximately 17 hours later. two days later the levee broke and water took away our house, car, my job and my daughter's school. when it became clear our lives had permanently changed i remained in georgia for one and a half weeks making sure inlaws were settled with their children and went to my family in texas. my goal in texas was to get my daughter settled back in college and seek assistance and services. the state university welcomed back but services in texas were poor. at the center, the red cross
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gave us a voucher for 100 for clothing for the two of us. the person taking information for fema stated that she was only a typewriter and couldn't answer questions. fema representatives were busy solving computer problems. we were there for six hours with no answers. the next day we went to the austin convention septemberer to speak to someone about assistance but were not allowed in because we did not reside in the shelter and we were not brought there directly from new orleans. after our time in texas we went to florida so that my daughter could get settled in school. four hotels wouldn't accept fema number as payment not sure she would be reimbursed. we settled at an on hotel for 65 a night at our expense. after talking with friends i went to the red cross in tall has sir, we were given 600 and voucher to stay near in a hotel near fsu. i stayed there for two more days before i returned to texas. this stay for for three days, accepted an invitation from friends to stay in arkansas,
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while i remained until two weeks ago when i returned to new orleans. a couple of key points i want to make. first, the citizens of new orleans have endured hurricanes forever. it is very difficult to convince senior citizens, especially native new orleanians to leavef an and torrey evacuation called earlier, would have made it easier to move seniors out of the area, many lives would have been saved. took me almost 24 hours to get my in-laws to leave. others tell the same story. the severity of the storm was not stress you by officials. the officials told new orleans citizen of the potential destruction of katrina i would have done more to secure my belongings. i had the remote, known the remote possibility of water rising above two feet i would have placed belongings on the second floor of my home, taken pictures and mementos with me. instead i unplugged electrical equipment, place it items on shelves and tables as i had always done. that did not save them from
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10.2 feet of water. no continuity of services or information among the organizations. red cross services varied from state to state. i relied on information from friends on what services i could get. i then had to go the red cross several times, in several locations seeking assistance. this took days and only received assistance and useful information from florida. while i was out of new orleans, the only sources i had to rely on for information it was internet and national media. national media broadcast stories and homes covered in water, alleged violence, smiling politicians visiting shelters. no information given on how to a play for services, what was going on in specific areas, instructions from elected officials. accessing local media through the internet the only way to obtain nonsensizationalized information on local questions. no branch of government was prepared for this disaster. they started with complete confusion and migrated to finger pointing, pointing fingers at each other when
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citizens of new orleans are scattered across the nation. the mayor is saying all of new orleans would be rebuilt while the corps of engineers saying that may not be possible in all areas. governor is saying help is coming to the area, but also saying that the federal government is not releasing funds. fema is saying they will put trailors properties, thousands, myself included are still waiting. i'm also wondering what will happen if and when i do get a trailer. we are six months away from the next hurricane season and national weather service predicts that season 2006 will be as active as season 2005. unless this is come compotioned super strong bricks or flotation devices i'm looking at another disaster. finally, when the levee broke, my daughter and i lost everything. we lost our home, car, job, her school, very precious memories. fortunately for her, her old school welcomed her back and kind strangers gave us sof sofa to sleepo i thought within this semester i could have help and i could have
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answers. no such luck. christmas break is coming and i don't know what to tell her. i don't know if she should come back to new orleans because i may have to leave the place that i'm living at right now at the end of the month. she can stay with family and friends we will make do like we did for thanksgiving, but i have to have answers about next semester. there's no job and there's no way to pay for housing, books, tuition or living expenses. what is worse, she is a 4.0 student, grades are suffering because she is worried. this isn't fair. if we can get answers to basic questions like where we can get shelter, food, medical care, at least present a positive element in this entire situation. we could have a start. for now, we are in the same position we were in three months ago. we need answers, we need help. thank you for your attention. >> thank you very much. thanks for being with us. >> can you hear me? okay, good. my name is patricia thompson,
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i live in central city, i'm a life-long resident of new orleans and my address was 2310, apartment c i was i was doing part-time work with the 6th gap thift baptist churn when we first heard about the hurricane, we did what we always do, we got candles, bottled water, caned goods but nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to encounter. the mandatory evacuation came less than 24 hours before the hurricane, before it made landfall. the lights went out long before the hurricane hit and the water rose two days later. the first thing i did was to gather extended family because i live on higher ground. my children are all grown and only my 20-year-old still resides at home. i told my other children and their families to come to my house. i thank god i did because my
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first and second daughters lost all of their possessions and they would have lost their lives as well when we went back to new orbls the line where the water stopped was like right around my head. both these daughters have young children that cannot swim. so i was invited to leave new orleans before the hurricane but like a mother, i was not leaving my children, even though they're grown, i was not leaving them. and i'm so glad i didn't. in these, in the two locations where these two daughters lived had they tried to swim out of their houses, the water only got deeper. i would have lost two children and six grandchildren, okay? so like i say, i'm glad that they didn't remain in the houses. we were abandoned. city officials did nothing to protect us.
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we were told to go to the superdome, convention zrp, interstate bridge for safety. we did this more than once. in fact, we tried them all every day for over a week, we saw buses, helicopters, fema trucks but no one stopped to help us, we never felt so cut off in our lives. when you feel like this you do one of two things. you either give up or go in to survival mode. we chose the latter. this is how we made it. we slept next to dead bodies, we slept on streets at least four times next to human fees sees and urine. there was garbage everywhere in the city, in the city, panic and fear had taken over. the way we were treated by police was demoralizing and inhuman. we were cursed when we asked for help for our elderly, we had guns aimed at us by the police who were supposed to be there to protect and serve. they made everybody sit on the ground with their hands in the air, even babies.
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the children were confused and frightened and terrified and they were not, i mean excuse me, they were terrified and they were not placing their hands in the air correctly. my five-year-old granddaughter cried and asked her mama if she was doing it right. i know the police were scared, but they had no right to treat everyone like criminals. being from new orleans i know the police are quick to kill, because they have done it so knee times, nothing is never done about it. you know, we live this on a daily basis, okay? they can and have gotten away with criminal acts. i live across the street from a police substation, a lot of crimes blamed on citizens were actually committed i police and other city officials. i watch the police go in to the substation with all kind of stolen goods, i watch the police and theesque laids, i watch the police do