FEMA report on 5th Commemoration of Katrina/Rita

FEMA has issued its own report, 16 pp., titled Katrina/Rita The 5th Commemoration, August 29, 2010 September 24, 2010. It is a short, bland account of the program areas — individual assistance, public assistance, hazards mitigation, environmental and historic preservation….  Too bad the agency did not make the effort to truly assess its performance and to identify the improvements needed in its recovery approach and framework.

The long-view on the Gulf Oil Spill

Scientists Dispute Government Stance on the Lingering Effects of Gulf Oil. ProPublica,  August 17, 2010.

…scientists seemed, on the whole, rather skeptical when a government report said most of the oil from BP’s well was gone from the Gulf of Mexico. [1] Now the pushback against the government’s stance has grown, with several scientific reports released this week.

Restoring the Gulf. editorial in NY Times, August 18.  Note: this author commented more than a  month ago on this blog that the job Mr. Mabus was assigned is not a part-time position.

Hurricane Katrina – 5th anniversary

Since the 5th anniversary will occur at the end of this month, several organizations have been reviewing the events and accomplishments.  The Brookings Institution has issued a series of reports on what has been learned since  Sept. of 2005; the listing of all reports is on the page titled The New Orleans Index at Five.

Their  overview paper (20 pp) is subtitled From Recovery to Transformation, is a very thoughtful report that provides a excellent discussion of the key elements of recovery.

Haiti 6 Months Later: Recovery is Slow

Claire is on travel this weekend and asked me, Kim Stephens, to add this blog posting.

This summer has been filled with images of oil-soaked marshes and underwater engineering feats and failures; the worst oil spill in our nation’s history has taken our attention away from the worst earthquake in our hemisphere’s  history.  Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot of good news to report with regards to Haiti’s recovery.

As testimony to the flagging recovery, images of Haiti still show piles of debris clogging the streets,  the National Palace remains in ruins without any signs of reconstruction,  and a make-shift camp, erected soon after the quake, still sits directly across the street from the Palace.

Marking the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, John Kerry issued the following statement:

“As we pause today to remember the lives lost and communities devastated as a result of the terrible earthquake in Haiti, we must also assess what we have done for the recovery process and how we can do better. Frankly, the results are mixed. Although the initial rescue effort was commendable for its quick response, the reconstruction process has been considerably slower and too many critical priorities remain unaddressed. Rebuilding Haiti requires not just resources, but decisive action, vision, and leadership from the United States, the international community, and the Haitian government. The window of opportunity is rapidly narrowing for an effective, coordinated international and Haitian effort that can make a real difference. We will all be responsible if progress grinds to a halt. I urge my colleagues in Congress to do their part by swiftly passing the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act, as well as the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.”

For a good assessment of the situation, read the report entitled “Haiti at a Crossroads” . This report was issued to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by the majority staff who traveled to Haiti in June in order to determine “the effectiveness of relief and recovery efforts”. From the report’s introduction:

On May 25, 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Kerry-Corker Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act of 2010, S. 3317. This bill authorizes $2 billion over 2 years to support the sustainable recovery and long-term rebuild- ing of Haiti. The legislation establishes a policy framework that emphasizes just, democratic and competent governance and invest- ments in people, particularly women and children. It tasks the U.S. Agency for International Development to put together a comprehensive rebuilding and development strategy for Haiti. And it establishes a senior Haiti policy coordinator responsible for advising and coordinating U.S. policy toward Haiti.

The committee takes seriously its responsibility to oversee the expenditure of the funds that the U.S. Government has pledged and spent in Haiti, and to ensure that the administration has the policy, personnel, and processes in place for effective use of funds within the strategy. While any sustainable strategy for rebuilding Haiti must be Haitian-led, given the dire circumstances in Haiti and the decimation of Haiti’s civil service, the United States and other donors must take an active role in guiding the reconstruction process. This report highlights 10 critical issues for Haiti’s rebuilding that require urgent attention by the Government of Haiti and the Obama administration.

The ten critical issues:

  • Establish a feasible, comprehensive rebuilding strategy
  • Build leadership and capacity in the Government of Haiti
  • Empower the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission
  • Address the resettlement issue
  • Hold elections expeditiously
  • Donors need to speak with one voice and improve coordination
  • Coordinate U.S. assistance efforts with the Government of Haiti and other donors
  • Rebuild Haiti’s decimated civil service
  • Maintain security gains
  • Bring the broader Haitian community into the rebuilding process

New Report on Community Resilience – June 22

A useful new report titled Community Resilience: A function of resources and adaptability, from Syracuse University. June 2010. This 15 page report is a breath of fresh air — a clearly written, readily understandable account of resilience and its application at the community level. Well worth reading. [Thanks to Phil Palin for calling it to my attention.]