Letter to FEMA Administrator David Paulison
Obama Calls on FEMA to Swiftly Rebuild New Orleans' Emergency Response Facilities, Protect City's Residents
Bureaucratic red tape has delayed first responder reconstruction projects after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today sent the following letter to FEMA Administrator David Paulison, raising concerns about ongoing reconstruction delays, funding disparities, and bureaucratic red tape for first responder resources and projects in New Orleans. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, and levee failures left the City of New Orleans under water, most of the City's municipal infrastructure was destroyed, especially its emergency response infrastructure.
In the letter, Obama calls on FEMA to expedite "comprehensive damage assessments" for the emergency responder facilities so they can begin the rebuilding process; address the funding gap between the obligated funds and the estimated repair costs for the new criminal justice facility; and cut the needless red tape slowing down the reconstruction process. The City of New Orleans has also called on FEMA to swiftly address these concerns.
Obama serves as a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and has been actively involved in helping Gulf Coast residents recover and rebuild since these hurricanes struck.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Mr. Paulison:
I am writing to express my concerns regarding several issues confronting the City of New Orleans ("the City") as it continues to rebuild after the levee failure during Hurricane Katrina.
As the City shared with you in a recent letter, there are several top Public Assistance projects and other concerns that must be addressed and I urge FEMA to act quickly on the issues identified by the City, including:
* Police and Fire Fighter Station Repair I ask that you address the continued delay in conducting "comprehensive damage assessments" for the Police and Fire Department stations and substations in the City of New Orleans. Without these damage assessments, full repair of the facilities is impossible. While reports indicate that roof repair and stabilization is underway, I urge you to expedite the damage assessments necessary to provide full rehabilitation of these stations. As you conduct these damage assessments, it is likely that cost adjustments may be necessary. I hope FEMA will work with the City of New Orleans and its emergency responders to ensure that the necessary cost adjustments are made in a timely fashion order to ensure that the City is provided adequate funds for these important improvements.
* Combined Criminal Facility I ask that FEMA address the funding gap between the obligated funds for the new combined criminal justice facility and the estimated repair costs. As the City struggles with increasing crime problems, the City must have a top-quality, fully functioning criminal justice facility and the proposed project will greatly enhance the city's ability to respond to the challenging crime problem.
* Cutting Red Tape As the City has outlined in its correspondence with you, the delayed processing of appeals and determinations of damage percentages is hindering the recovery process. I urge you to work to cut the red tape needlessly slowing down the reconstruction process. The proposed 30 day time frame for resolving these issues seems reasonable and I believe will greatly enhance the reconstruction that is still so sorely needed in the City.
As you well know, our nation's emergency responders are our front lines in the face of disaster. Now, over two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and devastated the Gulf Coast and levee failures left the City of New Orleans under water, it is imperative that we guarantee the people of New Orleans swift repair of its municipal infrastructure, especially its emergency response infrastructure.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your response to these concerns in the next two weeks.
United States Senator