The Senate Democrat plan for hurricane relief has been released. Excerpts from The Raw Story, who had it first:
Though \”Congress last week appropriated $10.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Defense Department, it is clear much more will be needed.\”
The Democrats in the Senate are proposing legislature that would provide immediate assistance.
Ensuring health care for all displaced victims
* Immediate access to Medicaid for displaced victims.
* No need to prove residency or assets
* No copayments
* No penalties for failing to sign up for Medicare Part B in time.
Getting victims housing
* Emergency housing vouchers for displaced victims
* Expedited application procedures with no red tape.
* No tenant contributions until they find work.
* Tax incentives for private families to take in victims.
* Identify federal facilities that can house victims.
* Relief for homeowners facing threat of foreclosure
Getting victims to family members and friends
Many of Katrinaâ€™s victims have little or no access to transportation. Although FEMA has legal authority to address this, the agency seems overwhelmed and has proven unable on its own to meet the compelling needs of countless numbers of stranded victims. We therefore need to make this a White House priority and direct the President to lead a broad effort to quickly ensure that displaced victims can get to family, friends and others who can provide them with room and board.
Getting students into school
Bringing victimsâ€™ families together and placing them with other families
Getting victims cash to meet other basic needs
Providing financial relief to victims and National Guard
Ensuring victims have access to food
Helping victims get jobs
Supporting the National Guard
We should require the President to submit regular reports to the Congress on the status of recovery efforts, the number of victims who remain without decent housing, jobs, etc., and any additional resources or action needed to address the crisis.
Emphasis mine, obviously. It\’s horrid and I hope it\’s not the case, but I don\’t think any of the above is going to happen. I\’m sure they mean well and whatnot, but have any of these Senators actually taken a good luck at their public assistance system lately? They\’re putting the evacuees on the same regular state and federal programs that are already over-crowded, under-funded, publicly derided, and constantly threatened by tax cuts. The programs don\’t work. Putting that many more people on the system, even if they are given streamlined access (instant approval instead of waiting lists, no need for proof of income or identity, etc.) to the programs it doesn\’t mean that being on the programs will help!
Some people have been on waiting lists for public housing for years; even with a voucher you aren\’t guaranteed to find a place willing to take your voucher. The current food stamp program is a total mess — you try living on $30 a month for groceries and see how well you do. Medicaid is a disaster; most of the doctors who participate are no longer taking new patients and the ones who are aren\’t always competent. The job program is a total joke. The case workers at the health department and Social Security department (who manage the public assistance services) have such high work loads and are so heavily stressed that their turnover rate is phenomenal; I\’ve had more than six case workers in the past three years, most of whom don\’t even return phone calls.
These people are not being helped by being put on the standard public assistance programs; they\’re being left there to rot like the rest of us stuck on SSI with no way of getting off/out. This is not a real solution.
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Bloomberg.com crunched some numbers and released a report earlier today. As of Monday 5 September:
- The evacuation has moved about 75,000 people to shelters in Louisiana and 35,000 to places in Texas;
- The death toll \”is in the thousands\” [a non-Bloomberg source is quoting more than 10,000];
- The hurricane has left more than $100 billion in damages;
- NOLA police shot eight people who fired at some Army Corps of Engineers contractors, killing six;
- 44% of adults surveyed said Bush deserves \”a great\” or \”a good\” amount of blame for the government\’s response, 33 percent said \”some\” blame, 22% said Bush deserves no blame;
- $10.5 billion in relief funding bill for victims of Katrina;
- An estimated 70 nations, from Azerbaijan to Venezuela, have offered cash contributions to the Red Cross totaling more than $100 million. Many countries also have donated supplies ranging from helicopters to emergency rations;
- By noon Sunday, aid contributions totaled at least $404 million;
- The Gulf of Mexico is (was?) the source of about one-third of the oil consumed in the U.S. and about one-fifth of the natural gas. As of Sept. 3, 79% of the region\’s crude-oil production was out of action, while 58% of gas production was shut;
- Katrina will cause will cause more than $100 billion in total economic losses, insured damage may be $50 billion;
- Lloyd\’s of London said a Gulf of Mexico hurricane of Katrina\’s size would lead to losses of $60 billion, with $10 billion in offshore energy and $50 billion in mainland property.
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If all the above weren\’t frightening enough, check out the story of 6-year-old Deamonte Love and his six tiny charges. I won\’t spoil it for you, but if you read any of the human interest stories you should check out this one. You won\’t be disappointed. Amazing kid.