Skip to comments.Jindal gets disaster update
Posted on 01/03/2006 8:45:16 AM PST by CajunConservative
DELCAMBRE -- U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, worked a little outside of his regular congressional district lines Monday, walking, talking and touring a town half depopulated by Hurricane Rita.
Delcambre Mayor Carol Broussard took Jindal and state Sen. Craig Romero, R-New Iberia, on the tour and gave a general assessment of what the town's government and the people who still want to live there are contending with.
Jindal said part of the reason for the morning trip was following up on having helped get a load of tarps donated by private businesses shipped to Delcambre several weeks ago.
He said he wanted to be able to let the companies who pitched in know where their donations went.
Broussard said all the tarps were quickly pressed into service.
Jindal said he not only wants to help the town and its people cut through the bureaucratic barricades, but to take the examples of where the process had gone wrong back to Washington, D.C., where he serves on the Department of Homeland Security committee that oversees Federal Emergency Management Agency operations.
He said he believes the rural areas of the state have not gotten the attention the major population centers, such as New Orleans and Lake Charles, have gotten following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Broussard said Delcambre has only gotten about half of its pre-Rita population of 2,200 back, and is still waiting for promised financial help.
Most of the town's revenue comes from its sale of natural gas to residents, and with the population cut by half, so too is the town's revenue.
The natural-gas system is going to need refurbishment as well, Broussard said, because salt water got into the pipes, which will shorten their lifespan.
Broussard said the federal government has sent about $150,000 in aid for such problems, but the money hasn't filtered through Baton Rouge yet.
Three months after the storms have passed, Romero said, Delcambre is still dealing with problems that should be closer to solutions.
"Things are not happening like they should," Romero said.
He said he hopes Jindal can move things along more quickly, because Jindal has a reputation and standing at the state and national level.
"I can think outside the box as well as anybody to find solutions, but this is beyond my world," Romero said.
"I know he's a problem solver and he can help tremendously."
Jindal said he will have a couple of stories to take back to Washington, including that of Bryan Pitre and his family.
Rita chased Pitre, who runs what's left of the family business, Pitre Shipyards, out of his home and shop.
He is living with his mother, father and wife, all of whom need constant medical attention, in a 23-foot camper.
Pitre, who is in his 60s and whose parents are in their 80s, said he hasn't been able to take enough time away from caring for his family members to finish the work needed to get the shipyard up and running.
Pitre works on shrimp boats and his shipyard is one of the few on the Gulf Coast who still works on wood-hull shrimp boats.
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to get back open," he said.
Pitre said his workshop and home, right off the Delcambre canal, were washed over when Rita hit and his equipment is ruined.
He said his family is still waiting for help from FEMA, which moved his request for a trailer to a "special needs" list.
He said he hasn't heard anything on that front.
Jindal said that's the kind of thing he went to Delcambre to find out about.
He said that being placed on a "special needs" list should have meant the Pitres got help more quickly, not more slowly.
Broussard said the town's biggest problem in getting its population back is that many of the residents don't have the money to rebuild.
He said while some share the complaints of other hurricane stricken areas of the coast in dealing with meeting higher elevation requirements in rebuilding, many people don't have the money to repair their homes, even without new height requirements.
Broussard said he's heard several horror stories about people trying to collect on insurance policies and getting nothing.
Even for those who could get the money together, finding somebody to do the work on a single home is tough with so much work available in other parts of the state.
Broussard said the time may come soon when the town has to look at cutbacks in services -- and that means employees -- because it isn't bringing in enough revenue to cover expenses.
I hope this means he's starting his campaign for governor.
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Mayor Carol Broussard...any relation to weepy Aaron?
I highly doubt it. Broussard is like Smith in Cajun country.