Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Some quick hits

Lawyer who fought Big Tobacco sues insurers for excluding flooding in 'hurricane protection' plans.

Hurricane Katrina: Wrath of God?

Ohio Town Turns Down Church's Request to House Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Invitiation to come to New Orleans

Like you needed an invitation....


Interesting story about seawall failures

It talks about a condition known as "heave" that may have caused the failures. Check it out for yourself here.


"This Mold House" - A T-P Special section

The title is for real, I didn't make it up. Check it out for yourself here


Survey Foresees $34.4B in Katrina Claims

ISO's Property Claim Services Unit said Tuesday that the preliminary estimate of damages to homes and businesses in six states would make Katrina the most costly U.S. natural disaster ever, surpassing the inflation-adjusted $20.8 billion in losses from Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
full story here


21 Google News Blast summary

I've been quite busy the last few days, so the email has piled up. Google sends me summaries of articles a few times a day relating to Katrina, and here's a summary of my favorite stories in the last 21.

Geek Cavalries turn post-Katrina landscape into wireless and VOIP experiment

Just days after Katrina struck, the FCC set up a clearinghouse where offers of equipment and expertise could be coordinated with the needs of the disaster area. The agency also eased rules for some advanced technologies. When Dearman posted a call for help on an e-mail distribution list, the response exceeded his wildest expectations. "There were trucks coming from all over the United States. This restored my faith in humanity," he said. "They showed up. They came up to my house, to my farm. Their trucks were loaded down with food and wireless gear." Eventually, BellSouth donated additional bandwidth, and MCI donated a 45-megabit per second DS3 line that Dearman used to light up southern Mississippi, including Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Pearlington and Diamondhead. Trango Broadband also donated radio equipment to expand the network. "Intel has called me half a dozen times in the last two weeks asking me what I needed. Cisco has donated three routers," he said. "Everybody has stepped up to the plate."

Celebs Gather in Miss. for Katrina Concert

"We will rise again," the teary eyed Oscar winner said. "Mississippi crawled out of the rubble and helped their neighbors and got about the business of surviving."

Four officers suspended in Katrina Investigation

Acting Police Superintendent Warren Riley says he has suspened four New Orleans officers without pay and put more than a dozen others under investigation as the department looks into its officers actions during Hurricane Katrina. Riley said the investigations stem from a handful of events in which officers were accused of looting, or failing to fight looting.

Karl Malone bulldozes over FEMA red tape

"There was a lot of red tape, and I ain't got time for that," he told AP. "I found out that if you're going to do something good, just go ahead and do it. Once I get in my machine, no one is going to get me out. We just said 'the hell with it.' FEMA didn't approve, but we did it for the people."

Katrina scatters New Orleans' complex black community

"If there is power and money in maintaining the status quo, people will maintain the status quo," Gaiter said. "The black people left behind did not have power, did not have money. They're not in a position to initiate change, though they're the ones most in need of change."

Britney sheds all for Katrina relief

The 23-year-old former teen queen, famed for her provocative stage outfits, has donated a treasure trove of personal items -- including a two-piece sofa, a bikini and a jewel-encrusted brassiere -- to be auctioned off to help victims.


"Toxic" mold

I've held this view for a while, and it's very interesting to see this come up in the news recently.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in recent years by people who say exposure to mold in their homes or workplaces made them ill. Now a medical review of 50 cases that ended up in court shows little evidence to support the claims.

Researchers reported that in every case, other medical causes could be identified to explain the illnesses believed to be caused by the condition that has come to be known as “toxic mold syndrome.”

They concluded that no credible medical evidence has emerged to link mold exposure to the wide range of serious medical conditions associated with toxic mold syndrome.

“We know that mold can make people sick if they end up in the foods they eat,” Oregon Health & Science University professor of medicine Emil J. Bardana Jr., MD, tells WebMD. “But there is little evidence that inhaled environmental mold exposure can cause the serious illnesses that have been attributed to it.”

full story here


Local businessman proposes good solution

I think this is crucial. Knowing most of the people that I have dealt with who are small-business owners, they are in desperate need of this assistance, as they struggle to find a way to keep what they have worked so hard for, and to continue to provide jobs for their employees.

The bill’s salient feature is that it would extend federal money — perhaps beginning with a fund of $10 million — to qualifying businesses in the form of short-term, no-interest loans. The loans would cover payroll and operating expenses for a specified period to enable the company to stay open until business improves to a more normal level. At the end of the stipulated period, assuming the business had lived up to its commitments, the loan would be forgiven.

“It’s a bridge,” Johnsen said. He said the measure’s goal is to help owners stay on their feet long enough to get their businesses rolling again. While a host of proposals have surfaced that would offer relief to damaged businesses in the form of tax breaks, low-interest loans and the like, Johnsen said his concern is that many companies won’t survive long enough to take advantage of those measures. “I’m afraid the short term is being overlooked for the long term, and if we don’t do something for the short term, we don’t need the long-term (measures),” he said. He admits his proposal is, basically, a grant program, except that it does include requirements to ensure that the “borrower” applies the money to keeping business alive.

Johnsen said his fear is that with many companies, small and large, struggling to continue meeting payroll after their revenue streams were disrupted, a host of bankruptcies lies ahead.

“It scares me,” he said. “Every (business owner) that I talk to is concerned about how they can cover their losses.”

Full story here


Some slight relief for those who may have to file for bankruptcy due to the storm

This doesn't go far enough, but it's a start.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has temporarily waived a provision of a tough new bankruptcy law to aid people filing for bankruptcy in Louisiana and southern Mississippi because of Hurricane Katrina. The department's United States Trustee Program said today that for the time being applicants in those areas would not have to undergo credit counseling before they file.

Some observers had said the new law, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, would produce hardships for hurricane victims. The law requires that any debtor who files for bankruptcy after Oct. 17, 2005 must undergo credit counseling within six months before they file for bankruptcy. The law also authorizes U.S. Trustees to approve credit counseling agencies that meet the law's criteria.

full story here


Blanco asks Bush to do the right thing and pay prevailing wages

It's absolutely ridiculous that this was taken out of force after Katrina in the first place, he should do the right thing and re-instate the protections.

In Sept. 30 letter to the president, Blanco wrote, "A key part of this request is to make sure that Louisiana's businesses and workers are the ones who are given the opportunity to do the work of rebuilding our state." Blanco also asked President Bush to exempt Louisiana from his executive order suspending provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act for the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Davis-Bacon Act requires federal contractors on federally funded projects to pay workers prevailing wages in the area where the work is conducted and encourages apprenticeship and training programs for women and minorities.

"In many instances, our workers are performing their same functions for far less money at a time when they are in desperate need of adequate wages. Our own companies are losing contracts when they are competing against outside companies who are taking advantage of your order by paying incredibly low wages and bringing in workers from elsewhere," the governor wrote. "Our state and our economy have already been devastated. I don't think Louisiana's workers should be given less consideration in wages than other Americans just because we have suffered a disaster."

full story here


Inspirational Quote of the Day

"I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness."

Abraham Maslow1908-1970, Psychologist


City of New Orleans to lay off up to 3000 workers

It's sad, but I have to say that I'm not surprised. This is going to be a real issue going forward, however.

Mayor Ray Nagin announced Tuesday that up to 3,000 city workers will be laid off.
Nagin said he worked hard to obtain the money necessary to keep City Hall at its current staffing level. But he said it's "with great sadness" that he must announce he wasn't able to.

Full story here

Monday, October 03, 2005


The list of 17 names is released

Nagin announced the initiative, called “Bring New Orleans Back,” during a press conference this afternoon at the downtown Sheraton Hotel. The mayor named Mel Lagarde, CEO of hospital owner HCA's Delta Division, and Barbara Major, executive director of Saint Thomas Health Clinic, to co-chair the commission charged with planning the rebuilding and reinvigoration of the city following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina a month ago. The group's mission is to work with the mayor to create a master plan by the end of the year that "rebuilds New Orleans culturally, socially, economically and uniquely for every citizen."

The other members of the commission are: Bollinger Shipyard Inc. CEO Boysie Bollinger; attorney Kim Boyle; attorney Cesar Burgos; commercial real estate developer and First Bank & Trust Co. founder Joe Canizaro; Tulane University President Scott Cowen; New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes; Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church; musician and Lincoln Center Jazz Program Director Wynton Marsalis; Liberty Bank Chairman and CEO Alden McDonald; Entergy New Orleans CEO Dan Packer; EBONetworks LLC President and CEO Anthony Patton; businessman and former regional transit authority CEO Jimmy Reiss; Crescent Bank & Trust founder/president Gary Solomon; New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas; and businessman and mayoral aide David White

Full story here


The Ice that saw America

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 - When the definitive story of the confrontation between Hurricane Katrina and the United States government is finally told, one long and tragicomic chapter will have to be reserved for the odyssey of the ice.

Ninety-one thousand tons of ice cubes, that is, intended to cool food, medicine and sweltering victims of the storm. It would cost taxpayers more than $100 million, and most of it would never be delivered.

The somewhat befuddled heroes of the tale will be truckers like Mark Kostinec, who was dropping a load of beef in Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 2 when his dispatcher called with an urgent government job: Pick up 20 tons of ice in Greenville, Pa., and take it to Carthage, Mo., a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mr. Kostinec, 40, a driver for Universe Truck Lines of Omaha, was happy to help with the crisis. But at Carthage, instead of unloading, he was told to take his 2,000 bags of ice on to Montgomery, Ala.

After a day and a half in Montgomery, he was sent to Camp Shelby, in Mississippi. From there, on Sept. 8, he was waved onward to Selma, Ala. And after two days in Selma he was redirected to Emporia, Va., along with scores of other frustrated drivers who had been following similarly circuitous routes.

At Emporia, Mr. Kostinec sat for an entire week, his trailer burning fuel around the clock to keep the ice frozen, as FEMA officials studied whether supplies originally purchased for Hurricane Katrina might be used for Hurricane Ophelia. But in the end only 3 of about 150 ice trucks were sent to North Carolina, he said. So on Sept. 17, Mr. Kostinec headed to Fremont, Neb., where he unloaded his ice into a government-rented storage freezer the next day.

"I dragged that ice around for 4,100 miles, and it never got used," Mr. Kostinec said. A former mortgage broker and Enron computer technician, he had learned to roll with the punches, and he was pleased to earn $4,500 for the trip, double his usual paycheck. He was perplexed, however, by the government's apparent bungling.

"They didn't seem to know how much ice they were buying and how much they were using," he said. "All the truckers said the money was good. But we were upset about not being able to help."

Full story here at


Map of Katrina Evacuees

This is a very interesting map that I happened across in USA Today. It shows how Katrina Evacuees have been dispersed across the US, and into all 50 states. Here's the caption, click on the link to head to the map.

USA Today reports 1.3 million people have left the Gulf Coast and are now located in all 50 states. FEMA applications were filed from 18,700 ZIP codes in all 50 states...nearly half of the nation's residential postal zones. While many remained within 250 miles of home, "the dispersion shows this is one well-networked country." Some of the flight could be permanent, as it was in the Great Flood of 1927, and thereby change the complexion of the entire region.

Link to the map is here

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