Video: Katrina report card

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/11/2005 7:50:18 PM ET 2005-11-12T00:50:18

David and Tanja Soublet are among the thousands who've come home only to wonder: Can they stay home?

"Will I have to raze my house?" asks David. "Who's going to pay for it?"

There are so many unanswered questions on key issues in New Orleans: the cleanup, housing, schools, jobs and the battered levee system. Eleven weeks after Katrina, with the initial shock and numbness having worn off, we thought it was time for a progress report in those key areas. We went to Andrew Kopplin, who heads the Louisiana Recovery Authority, for a non-partisan report card. He's worked for both Democratic and Republican governors.

Kopplin gave the cleanup, about one-quarter done, a passing grade — barely.

"It's clearly progress every day, but New Orleans is not as clean as it needs to be," he says.

Housing issues, Kopplin says, including those promised trailers, add up to a failure.

"The pace with which temporary and transitional housing has been made available is absolutely unacceptable," concludes Kopplin.

The city's public schools, shut down indefinitely, will likely be taken over by the state. That's the right move, Kopplin says.

"A good public education system helps to bring people in," he says.

But the jobs outlook gets an incomplete, because despite desperate applicants and some equally desperate employers, there've been no business help commitments from Congress matching those following 9/11.

Finally, the levee system. Reports this week suggest stronger Category 5 hurricane protection might not be possible, and that, so far, local officials have failed to persuade Congress it's necessary.

That means fewer returnees and more worrying for those who do return.

"It's going to take too long for important decisions to be made," says David Soublet.

He and his wife are now thinking of leaving home a second time.

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