Bush Decides on Levees…FEMA Maps Finally released

From Scout:

Bush has decided on the funding for levees….

Federal recovery Donald Powell said President Bush would ask Congress for another $2.5 billion to improve levees in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and St. Charles which protect 98 percent of the local population.

But Plaquemines is considered outside the levee system for the moment. Powell said it is likely that all damaged homes will likely need to be raised 1-3 feet there. But flood insurance is still problematic, and the federal government has not decided whether to allocate $1.5 billion that the Army Corps of Engineers needs to certify the Plaquemines levees as being able to withstand a 100-year-storm.

Originally the estimate for additional funding of the NOLA levees was $3 billion. I don’t know if the $2.5 billion figure now represents a change in the Army Corps estimate or Bush not recommending all the funds. Without knowing that it’s difficult to judge but this appears to be good news for NOLA Not so for Plaquemines Parish. The NOLA levee funding must get through Congress though. Send your Beads to Congress.

And the FEMA maps were FINALLY released.

Much-anticipated advisory flood maps that are expected to guide the recovery from Katrina were released this morning for all local parishes except Plaquemines. The advisories, which do not have the force of law, but are expected to play a key role in the formula for dispersing buyout and repair money by the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

In general, the advisories will require homes inside the levee system to be built three feet above the local grade, or at the current required elevation, whichever is higher. The ruling effects new construction and renovation paid for by flood insurance or federal aid when a home suffered more than 50 percent damage.

The advisories will require a dramatic change in the city’s landscape, particularly in Gentilly, parts of Lakeview and New Orleans East, where tens of thousands of homes are slab on grade and were built below current flood elevations.

UPDATE:WaPo reports the lower figure for levee funding is a result of “cutting projects that were deemed redundant.”

WaPo also reports a potential problem for Louisiana..

Left open by the announcement is just how much Louisianans must contribute to the $2.5 billion spending proposal, and some state leaders reacted angrily to the possibility that their financially strapped home will have to pitch in as much as $900 million to the project.

SNIP

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) mocked the request for state funding toward the additional $2.5 billion and said the administration should say when it will ask for the money. “It’s like the man who throws you a 30-foot rope when you’re drowning 50 feet from shore and says he’s gone more than halfway,” said Landrieu, who has vowed to block Senate action on Bush nominations to non-defense and judicial posts until the issue is resolved. “A noble gesture, perhaps, but it doesn’t get the job done.”

When I said earlier the levee funding news appears to be good news for NOLA it would have been better to say they avoided the worst possible news. The levees being rebuilt will still only protect the city from certain Category 3 hurricanes at best.