Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin said today that the presidential candidates have not tackled the remaining economic and human needs of his city in the aftermath of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“I think they are — I won’t say afraid — but a little hesitant to tackle the issues” that still confront the city “and the lack of preparedness to deal with future natural disasters,” Mr. Nagin said in an interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Times today.

“The candidates are a little hesitant about fully embracing our dilemma. I would like to hear more about what they would do to bring about the full recovery of our infrastructure which is in deplorable shape,” he said.

The mayor gave the Bush administration a “C” for dealing with the city’s infrastructure problems but blamed the federal bureaucracy, especially the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for not doing enough to deal with “the people side,” the city’s human needs in housing, health care and other social services.

But he had high praise for the private sector and the charitable and volunteer community.

“The number of volunteers has been mind-boggling — the churches and schools that came down to help. That’s the only reason that we are where we are now,” he said.

Mr. Nagin said that the city needs millions of dollars more in assistance, but that FEMA and other agencies have not produced enough financial aid, outside of government loans. “We’ve been financially starved,” he said.

“Our best opportunities are with the Democrat-controlled Congress right now. That is who we have been talking to to see if we can get some things in these upcoming appropriations bill to fill the gap,” he said.

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