Obama cabinet members check Gulf Coast recovery

Emergency Management Alert, March 10, 2009

One of Craig Fugate’s first tasks as FEMA head was to join Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for a first-hand tour of New Orleans on March 5.

It was the first visit to New Orleans by high-level Obama administration officials and they pledged to cut bureaucratic red tape that has hindered efforts to rebuild after the 2005 hurricane. President Barrack Obama has promised a stepped-up commitment to Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts.

During that visit, Napolitano said she plans to call Louisiana and federal officials together in Washington, D.C. soon to try and settle a three-year dispute about how much FEMA owes the state for damage to Charity Hospital caused by Hurricane Katrina. State and federal officials remain almost $350 million apart, with the state arguing the now closed hospital, whose basement flooded after the hurricane, sustained more than $246 million in damage, a threshold that means the building is totaled and FEMA owes $492 million as the estimated cost of rebuilding it, reported The Times-Picayune.

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