News Release

Katrina, Two Years Later: Where’s the Progress?


On Thursday, August 23, at 1 p.m. ET, the Institute for Southern Studies holds a phone-in media briefing to release “Blueprint for Gulf Renewal,” an in-depth investigation into the state of the Gulf Coast on the two-year anniversary of Katrina. The study features a report on “Where did the Katrina money go?” and presents results based on surveys of over 40 community leaders across the Gulf Coast.

Buchanan is the communications officer for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial and co-author of “Where did the Katrina money go?” — a special investigation in the Institute for Southern Studies report on the two-year anniversary of Katrina. He said today: “The White House continues to mislead the public on how little money is actually available for rebuilding the Gulf Coast. While President Bush claims to have sent a ‘big check’ to rebuild the region, residents two years later still see battered and closed schools and hospitals and neighbors still struggling to return and wonder whether his check bounced. Our research shows that money for rebuilding has been scarce — and on top of that, only about half of long-term recovery funds have been spent. Slow, insufficient and misguided federal policy is keeping tens of thousands of displaced American families from realizing their human right to return and rebuild their lives and communities.”
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Hanshaw is the executive director of Coastal Women for Change. A native of Biloxi, Mississippi, Hanshaw launched Coastal Women for Change after Katrina struck, to address gaps in relief and push for a more just recovery. She said today: “There’s money that’s been allotted for Mississippians. It’s not a handout. Can we please receive it so we can start rebuilding? There’s a shortage of affordable housing, but we see boutiques, stores, rich houses and casinos being built. We want the people to understand that we are nowhere near recovery. We’ve still got people who are homeless because of the storm. I’m seeing all this blank land. Why can’t we develop an affordable apartment complex and put people in it?”
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Harden is a co-director of the New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights. She said today: “The message that we’re bringing from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region is ‘don’t believe the hype.’ Gulf Coast reconstruction or recovery — it’s not a slow thing. It’s a massive privatization scheme that’s taking our communities, our homes, our schools, our health-care systems and hospitals and clinics and job opportunities away from the people who have been displaced. Right now, we have 300,000 people from the Gulf Coast who remain away from their homes. They’re internally displaced people who, through no fault of their own, had their homes taken away from them with floodwaters and levee failures. All of these folks, and including those who have been able to rebuild or work towards rebuilding, which is the case for my family and I, we all deserve the right to return with dignity and justice. And that has been denied by our federal government.”
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Kromm is the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies and author or co-author of several reports on the post-Katrina recovery, including “The Mardi Gras Index,” “One Year after Katrina,” and the Institute’s new report, “Blueprint for Gulf Renewal: The Katrina Crisis and a Community Agenda for Action.” He said today: “On September 15, 2005, President Bush declared that the federal government would ‘do what it takes, and stay as long as it takes,’ to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Instead, Washington has turned its back on those who lost so much after Katrina. Our research shows that, by most measures, the recovery is failing. Over 80,000 people are still in ‘temporary’ FEMA trailers; schools and hospitals are shuttered; people can’t find good jobs. The only thing that can turn this around is a bold, new federal commitment to making the region whole again. Drawing on the ground-level insights of over 40 Gulf Coast leaders, our report shows not only what’s gone wrong, but what — with the right political will — could be done to create a more vibrant, safe and just future for all in the Gulf South.”
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For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (202) 347-0020.