CONGRESSMAN COOPER VISITS KATRINA-RAVAGED AREAS
says devastation is "beyond imagining"
NASHVILLEU.S. Rep. Jim Cooper recently returned from a three-day trip to the Gulf Coast region with a bipartisan group from Congress and said that, six months after Katrina, the damage is still incomprehensible.
"The devastation is beyond imagining," Cooper said after visiting New Orleans and the Mississippi coastal area. "You have to see it to believe it. FEMA and the government need to do a much better job of helping people rebuild safely. So far we have spent more money rebuilding wetlands in Iraq than we have in our own states of Louisiana and Mississippi.
"These are our folks," Cooper added. "These are American citizens and our neighbors. We need to help them put their lives back together."
It was not Congressman Cooper's first visit to the region. He had traveled to coastal Mississippi immediately after Katrina hit to assist his mother-in-law who lives there. Her home in Pass Christian was completely destroyed by Katrina.
Cooper said he was shocked by the slow progress he saw on the trip. "It's devastating," he said. "You see mile after mile of obliterated homes in Mississippi. And then in New Orleans you see something even spookier. The homes are still there but the water damage is so awful it's unbelievable. They are still finding dead bodies; they found one the day before we arrived."
In addition to getting more help from FEMA, Cooper said insurance companies should be doing more to speed up their response. "Insurance companies need to do more to help their policyholders recover. It is almost hurricane season again and families are still waiting for help to clean up from Katrina."