Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lagniappe featured on Washinton Times Front Page

Katrina help rare in campaign talks By Christina Bellantoni March 20, 2008 NEW ORLEANS — Gulf Coast recovery efforts are the forgotten political story. The government's ineptitude in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is a good red meat applause line for the Democratic presidential hopefuls, but the residents still sifting through broken lives in Mississippi and Louisiana stopped waiting for help from politicians long ago. "We struggle for a voice. I'm not sure if anybody else is listening, and it may take a Katrina in their neighborhood for them to listen," said Jean Larroux, a Presbyterian pastor and Bay St. Louis, Miss. native who returned home two years ago to work to restore the community. "Let Katrina hit Kennebunkport," he said. "I imagine that we wouldn't have to pray a whole lot about [getting them help]. I'm really not bitter. I'm just opinionated." As Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama campaign across the country, they consistently decry the "outrage" of millions without health care or the "unfunded mandate" of No Child Left Behind law, but rarely mention Katrina. They made some fleeting references to the storm while campaigning in Mississippi this month. "They're basically talking about the economy right now and the war but I haven't heard anybody say anything about the efforts as far as the Gulf South, other than when they came here and spoke," said John Kevin Garner, 39, who is helping his father rebuild their home in the city's Lower Ninth Ward. "They worry about Iraq so much, but don't worry about the people." While most said a new president would be an improvement over President Bush, Gulf Coast residents The Washington Times met from Biloxi, Miss., to New Orleans said they hear little from Mrs. Clinton, of New York, and Mr. Obama, of Illinois. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin agreed. "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," he told The Times last week in Washington. "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." Link to the entire story

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