News Release

18 Months After Katrina


Executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, Kromm founded Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch in October 2005 to watchdog the Katrina recovery. He is co-author of the newly released report “A New Agenda for the Gulf Coast,” which documents the state of the Gulf and shows what steps leaders in Washington can take to jump-start the recovery.

Kromm said today: “In his first visit to the Gulf in six months, President Bush said Thursday that ‘times are changing for the better’ and ‘there’s hope’ after Katrina. But thousands of people still can’t get back home due to a lack housing, schools, jobs and other basics — and they won’t be able to unless Congress and the White House dramatically change course and jump-start the stalled recovery.”
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Washington, a lifelong New Orleans resident and civil rights attorney, is director of the NAACP Gulf Coast Advocacy Center. She said: “On August 29, 2005, natural and man-made forces crippled the City of New Orleans, obliterating the social structures that provide the foundation of what we believed were our social and civil rights guarantees. Now, 18 months later, New Orleans residents have grown weary and frustrated by our government’s failure to rebuild more quickly….

“After 18 months, the Gulf Coast is still in crisis -­ and, more than any other factor, it’s due to a lack of leadership in Washington. Many key areas of the recovery -­ from housing to health care and jobs still hinge on federal policy. Congress and the president must act on their promises and responsibility to ensure the Gulf has a vibrant future.”
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Cintra is Gulf Coast organizer for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, which has been an advocate for mostly Latino and Vietnamese immigrants affected by Katrina. Cintra and MIRA have recovered over $800,000 in wages that were taken by contractors from immigrant workers, and helped communities with rebuilding.
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A Katrina evacuee, Quigley is distinguished professor of law and director of the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University in New Orleans. He has been a leading advocate for housing, health care, schools and other basic needs in the city.

He said: “Half the homes in New Orleans still do not have electricity. Eighteen months after Katrina, a third of a million people in the New Orleans metro area have not returned. Visitors to New Orleans can still stay in fine hotels and dine at great restaurants. But less than a five-minute drive away lie miles of devastated neighborhoods that shock visitors. Locals call it ‘the Grand Canyon effect’ -­ you know about it, you have seen it on TV, but when you see it in person it can take your breath away.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167