Sen. Hillary Clinton laid out a remarkably comprehensive disaster recovery agenda for the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in her May 18, 2007 speech to a crowd of New Orleans' elected and community leaders and again in her commencement address at Dillard University on May 19, 2007.
What I like about Sen. Clinton's 10-point proposal to reconstruct New Orleans is that it's thoughtful, smart, practical and inspiring!
Among Sen. Clinton's promised plans for Gulf Coast recovery are:
- federal seed money to jump-start priority infrastructure projects, including the reconstruction of schools and fire stations;
- a federal census to determine the current needs of hurricane victims; and
- the creation of a Gulf Coast Corps that would provide financial incentives to lure professionals and skilled laborers to the region.
The following is Hillary for President Fact Sheet outlining her agenda to accelerate Gulf Coast recovery.
A PRESIDENTIAL GULF COAST RECOVERY AGENDA
Hillary Clinton announced an agenda that she would pursue as president to cut through the red tape, deliver the promised federal assistance, and get services running and infrastructure built in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.
Hillary believes that it is unacceptable that 20 months after the storms, New Orleans is still coping with vulnerable levees, closed hospitals, dilapidated schools, rising crime, halting economic development, and a shocking lack of affordable housing.
Hillary also believes that the people of New Orleans and the region – with real federal commitment and meaningful federal aid – can overcome these challenges. Here is what she would do to help them:
1. ELEVATE THE GULF COAST FEDERAL REBUILDING DIRECTOR
As president, Senator Clinton would take the federal rebuilding coordinator out of the Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy and put him in the West Wing, reporting directly to the president.
She would meet with the Director weekly and grant him full authority to lead all federal participation in Gulf Coast recovery. The Director’s first order of business would be to conduct a Katrina/Rita Recovery Census –canvassing all federal assistance needs of Gulf Coast communities.
2. CUT RED TAPE
Senator Clinton would take a series of immediate, concrete steps to move federal dollars to where they belong. She would eliminate the local match requirement for FEMA recovery funds.
She would streamline and simplify the “project worksheet” process of securing FEMA public infrastructure grants, and deploy sufficient staff to clear backlogs.
For priority projects, she would provide upfront seed funding to jumpstart rebuilding while applications and claims are processed. And she would direct FEMA to give the maximum flexibility allowed by law to schools, fire stations, and other critical institutions for creative rebuilding and renovation.
She would also convene a state-local-federal summit to resolve challenges confronting Louisiana’s “Road Home” program, with the goal of removing the remaining federal obstacles.
3. ATTRACT WORKERS TO REBUILD NEW ORLEANS AND THE REGION
As president, Hillary would create a Gulf Coast Corps, governed by a joint federal-state-local board. The Corps would have two tracks:
- it would provide financial incentives to skilled professionals – teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. – to serve in high-need areas as identified by state and local officials; and
- it would directly hire thousands of workers and apprentices – especially locals and those who left but want to return – to complete priority public works projects, as identified by the states.
4. BUILD A RELIABLE HURRICANE PROTECTION SYSTEM
There are still clear gaps and deficiencies in the city’s hurricane defenses.
Senator Clinton would immediately order an independent, stem-to-stern review of the Army Corps of Engineers’ plans and progress thus far. She would fully fund and expedite construction to ensure the city has reliable defenses this hurricane season, and would order the Corps to achieve Category 5 protection over time.
And, because every 2 to 4 miles of wetlands reduces storm surges by a foot, she would require the Army Corps and other federal agencies to integrate a wetlands restoration plan as a vital component of hurricane protection efforts.
5. EXPAND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
In addition to addressing Road Home, Senator Clinton would pursue two specific policy initiatives.
First, she would address the skyrocketing cost of insurance by: investigating insurance pricing and claims adjustment practices in the Gulf region; reforming the National Flood Insurance Program; reviewing the insurance industry’s antitrust exemption; and working with states to support their insurance programs.
Second, she would expand the stock of affordable rental housing by:
- partnering with states and localities;
- funding new public housing developments;
- offering incentives to builders and developers; and
- providing direct assistance to residents who have lost their units, including those living in transitional housing.