By Bertha Coombs Reporter
CNBC
updated 7/31/2006 4:47:59 PM ET 2006-07-31T20:47:59

Some have described the levee failure in New Orleans last year as a disaster that unfolded in slow motion, leaving people stranded for days. For residents in New Orleans, the recovery has been just as painfully slow -- especially when compared to their neighbors in Mississippi.

“We have one active bathroom -- if you don't mind no walls,” said Carlese Brumfield, a resident of the low-lying Gentilly neighborhood that was hard hit when Katrina’s flood waters overtopped a nearby levee.

Carlese and Lana Brumfield are battling their insurer for money to finish their home, which was destroyed by Katrina's flood.

“It probably won't be until next year,” said Carlese.

Beyond their doorstep, their neighborhood - deluged when the levees failed – is still a ghost town. 

“Everything is just at a stand still,” said Lana. “It's like the storm came and went and that's just the way they're going to let it be.”

It took nine months for Louisiana to secure federal housing reconstruction money. And New Orleans still has no master rebuilding plan: the planning committee was scrapped by the mayor this spring.

“All this bureaucracy of one planning group, another planning group,” said Marty Roland, a member of the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association. “Our political leadership kind of failed us, in that sense, as opposed to Mississippi.”

Louisiana recovery officials bristle at the comparison, citing the larger scale of New Orleans' destruction.

“Nine times the size of Washington, D.C. is what we're talking about,” said Donna Fraiche, a member of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Delays in federal funding to rebuild the levees have left the state and the city hanging.

“Congress only just appropriated the needed funding to repair those levees two short months ago, although we're in the midst of another hurricane season,” said Fraiche.

But Loren Scott, an economics professor at Louisiana State University, says leaderships style plays a role. Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco leads by committee, while Mississippi's governor, Haley Barbour works like a czar.

“You may not like what the czar ends up with but things do happen a little bit faster,” said Scott.

Communities like Gentilly are trying to speed rebuilding along by developing their own plans for the city to approve.  

“We need to get on with our lives,” said Laura Roland. “And if we just all waited for something to be officially done, nobody would be here.” 

Neighbor Carlese Brumfield, for one, is determined to stick it out.

CNBC: I'm impressed that you all stay so hopeful, I have to say.
BRUMFIELD: I mean we have to. I tell you, I'd sure like you to see it when it's finished.
CNBC I'd love to.
BRUMFIELD: When it's finished. 

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