Steady Progress On The Gulf Coast
Earlier today, I was at the Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO), which sustained major damage from Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago. Today, there are signs of progress across the campus, and I was proud to announce an additional $32 million in funding to continue the rebuilding of SUNO.
Overall, more than $400 million has been obligated under this Administration toward the repair and replacement of educational facilities and projects throughout Louisiana.
Thanks to a concerted effort by FEMA, our Gulf Coast Rebuilding Office, and all the federal agencies involved, Gulf Coast communities have a strong ally in their rebuilding efforts.
Certainly, when we look back on the last four years, there's much to learn from. But right now:
We have the right people in place
We are cutting through bureaucratic red tape and getting decisions made faster, and
We are addressing the most difficult challenges head-on rather than working around them.
What this all means is that - from the federal perspective - we are keeping the promises that we've made.
Last February, we committed to working to help resolve the lingering problems that many families were having with housing. Since then, we have assisted more than 3,200 Louisiana households move out of FEMA temporary housing and into more suitable, longer-term, functional housing.
Overall, roughly 99 percent of households displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita have found longer-term means of housing.
Back in March, we created two teams to aid in the resolution of disputed projects. The Joint Expediting Team and the Unified Public Assistance Project Decision Team together have since resolved 73 disputed projects. And two weeks ago, we announced an additional avenue for fairly and promptly resolving public assistance projects through independent arbitration panels.
We've made significant progress over the past seven months, but at the same time, we all acknowledge how far we still need to go.
Rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and making it stronger and more resilient, is a long-term project that requires the engagement of federal state and local government, communities, faith groups, and the private sector.
Today, I shared the message that this Administration is committed to rebuilding in the long term. Our expectations are high, and I look forward to coming back to see more signs of progress soon.