White House officials have told Congress that the $51.8 billion approved late last week will only get the disaster relief effort through the first week of October, and senior congressional appropriations aides have told the White House they need to see the next request next week. Republicans say the next bill could top $50 billion.
But the scale of the disaster has not even come into focus, largely because many agencies have not been allowed into the disaster zone to assess the damage, according to congressional appropriations aides.
Nearly 1,000 drinking water and sewer systems -- 391 in Mississippi, 606 in Louisiana and one in Alabama -- remain shut down. Repairing and rebuilding such systems could cost between $3 billion and $10 billion, much of it on the tab of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Even before Katrina struck, the federal highway emergency relief fund faced a $120 million backlog of road repairs. Between crumbled bridges and washed-out highways, the fund's deficit will be in the billions, said appropriations aides.
The Air Force will be seeking up to $4 billion to repair damaged Gulf State facilities, a House Appropriations Committee aide said. Another $2 billion to $4 billion will be needed to finance the mobilization of the National Guard, the evacuation of military personnel and military family support programs. Damage to national parks, forests and wildlife refuges are estimated to be as high as $300 million.
On Wednesday, the spending continued as the Senate approved a measure to provide emergency housing vouchers to more than 350,000 families made homeless by the hurricane. Any displaced family regardless of income would be eligible for the program, expected to cost $3.5 billion over six months.
Here is a bold prediction. For once the US government is way, way, way overstating what is needed, cashwise, to rebuild this area.
For starters, water and sewage system repairs $3-$10B. That's quite an estimate. Only $7 Billion in question. They don't have to rebuy the land, just fix what is broken. This isn't an estimate. Somebody just picked two numbers.
The roads and bridges will cost a lot. But note the article doesn't even make a prediction. Billions, maybe. Many billions, not.
$4B to fix Air Force installation. Hopefully they flew the jets to safe ground. Again, they don't have to buy the ground. What could you buy for $4B?
350,000 homeless families. There was only 1.5 million people in all of greater New Orleans. Are they all going to be homeless for 6 month. Use that figure. Lets give each family $1000 per month whether they need it or not. That would be $350,000,000
per month for six months or about $2B. $1000 tax free goes a long way in the South. Some of those families are singles or just 2 people. But why would we give $1000 a month to folks who are already on public assistance, Social Security, government pensions, etc. That has to be a big percentage of the people who will be displaced for any lengthy period of time. So lets say $1B including admin.
Maybe some of you can help me figure this out. But as stated earlier with smaller numbers, take the $250 billion and subtract $150B (a ridiculous amount) for infrastructure, government involvement and installations, and business losses, leaving $100B for the folks. If even 1 million were really hit hard (and I think the number is far less) you have $100,000 per person or $400,000 for a family of 4. Why don't we just give out checks for $100,000 to each person so affected and let them spend it any way they want.
Am I wrong here?