Friday, Feb. 10, 2006 | 12:32 p.m.
More than five months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged The Big Easy, hardship is everywhere. All levels of government are tangled in red tape and New Orleans residents are taking matters into their own hands.
A city commission tried to impose a responsible plan for rebuilding homes. It assessed each one and decided which were damaged more than 50 percent. Homes with that level of destruction were slated for demolition unless the homeowners could afford to have them lifted several feet to avoid future flooding.
But as The New York Times reported Sunday, thousands of frustrated homeowners are defying the commission with the help of City Hall. They are simply lining up there and having their damage reports arbitrarily changed to under 50 percent. Then they are proceeding to rebuild, dooming their homes in the event of another flood and exposing taxpayers to more liability from federal flood insurance claims.
And getting access to federal funds for a multitude of reconstruction projects continues to be a nearly impossible struggle.
Mayor Ray Nagin is seeking financial help from foreign countries and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanko is trying to block federal sales of offshore oil and gas leases as leverage to break loose federal funds, The Washington Post reported this week. The newspaper calls New Orleans "Limbo Land."
Federal plans for the rebuilding of the city's public, commercial and private sectors are months away from being released, preventing critically needed private investment. So long after the disaster, and so close to the 2006 hurricane season, this is a disgrace. We believe the local, state and federal governments should call a truce and get to work.