Thursday, April 13, 2006

Good News For NOLA?

By accepting more lenient building requirements, the government opens up the way for NOLA's residents to get on rebuilding their homes and their lives. But is the government doing them any favours?
Federal officials issued unexpectedly lenient guidelines on Wednesday for rebuilding the flood-damaged homes of New Orleans, potentially allowing tens of thousands of homeowners to return to their neighborhoods at costs far less than they had feared.

Under the guidelines issued here by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, huge swaths of homes might still have to be rebuilt at least three feet off the ground, or risk getting no federal reconstruction money or insurance.

But the announcement, anxiously anticipated as a critical step in rebuilding this still-ravaged city, was nonetheless greeted with some relief by local officials and residents. They had feared that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's catastrophic flooding, the government would demand that some houses be raised as much as 10 feet, at enormous expense.

Well, the feds aren't helping NOLA's people too much if this guy's right.
Now, the federal government — by making rebuilding requirements less stringent than had been anticipated — appears to have concurred, though FEMA officials did not say specifically why they chose the three-foot figure. Some experts were critical of the decision. "It's wacky," said J. Robert Hunter, a former director of the federal flood insurance program. "Three feet — where did that come from? Why are we building up three feet, when the water was up over the roof?

"What's that three feet going to do?" Mr. Hunter asked. "Instead of coming up with real science, they're making it up. Which means that people are going to be at risk, they're going to die again, and taxpayers are subsidizing unwise construction with very cheap insurance."

I believe we can all agree, we want Hunter to be dead wrong.


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