New Orleans still reeling

Little of the money promised for recovery has reached residents.

    Construction of the first house to be built from the ground up in the hardest hit area is almost complete

    While Bush touts $110 billion in federal funds that has been sent to the hurricane zone, little of it has reached the streets of New Orleans - a fact that leaves community activists fuming.

    Incompetence and indifference

    Gwendolyn Adams from the Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now says: "There's a saying, show me the money.

    "No one has ever shown it to me either physically or by utilising that money to help us rebuild. They are not rebuilding the city."

    "There's a saying, show me the money. No one has ever shown it to me either physically or by utilising that money to help us rebuild"

    Gwendolyn Adams, Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now

    Meanwhile, Pastor Gary Mack of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church told Al Jazeera that neighbourhoods close to the recovering French Quarter are still "blighted".

    "We have less than half the people here. We have half the businesses here," he says.

    "So even if we do come back, the grocery stores are not widely open, drugstores are not available and healthcare is not available in all locations."

    Hurricane Katrina may have brought New Orleans to its knees but people here say it is being kept there by bureaucratic incompetence and indifference at the highest levels of government.

    The state of Louisiana's so called 'road home' programme was supposed to provide grants of up to $150,000 for homeowners who wanted to rebuild, but it is bogged down by bureaucracy.

    105 thousand people applied but less than 550 have received funds.

    Recovery board officials say they are trying to move faster.

    Lost community

    In the meantime New Orleans relies on the kindness of strangers - volunteers who spend their days gutting flood-damaged houses.

    It is dirty, backbreaking work, but 18-year-old Anna Calloway left her parents home in Washington DC and postponed her first year of college to do it.

    Volunteers are helping to rebuild

    She says: "I can't see this happening to people in our country. I can't see this happening to them and not come and help."

    The house that Anna and her work crew are gutting belongs to Willie Cooper's sister.

    Like many people here Cooper's relatives have scattered far and wide.

    He laments a lost community, one so tightly-knit its families knew each other for generations.

    He says: "You could be a stranger walking through and if somebody saw you walking hungry, confused, starving or dirty they would offer you a place to eat, a bath, a nice place to sleep before you went on your way."

    That community may be gone forever.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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