Mayor Nagin says New Orleans is recovering
HOUSTON (AP) - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said his city is recovering and that people have been ’hoodwinked and bamboozled" into believing it won't be rebuilt.
Nagin spoke at the Essence Music Festival's empowerment seminars, being held outside New Orleans for the first time because of lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina.
’We are moving forward," he said. ’New Orleans is a city that is in recovery, and it is coming back."
He said he wanted to let people know ’what is really going on," that New Orleans is ahead of schedule on rebuilding and that 98 percent of the city's utilities have been restored. He said 225,000 people are back in the city, and he expects that number to reach 300,000 in the coming months.
He didn't say who is sending what he called untrue messages about New Orleans, just that they are collectively misleading.
’I think that it's just evolved to this point, and I just want people to have clarity on what the opportunities are and what they can and cannot do," Nagin said.
He said that billions of dollars will be invested into the rebuilding effort and urged the audience to ’buy some dirt in New Orleans."
’New Orleans is getting ready to be the biggest job site in the world," he said.
While touting the positives of the city, Nagin also said the wait continues for delivery of money the government has approved for homeowners. He acknowledged the biggest issue still facing the city is inadequate housing.
’We are waiting for the state to release that money," he said. ’It is said that $100 billion in governmental aid has been given to the Gulf Coast region, but most of that money has gone to big companies."
He continues to encourage people to return and assess their situations to see if it is time for them to move back and said that currently renters are having more difficulty returning than are homeowners.
Nagin said he is working with Houston Mayor Bill White to establish an office in Houston where New Orleans residents can get information concerning their move back to the city.
Speaking of the slow response time after the hurricane, he said blacks must work together to assure it never happens again.
’We have a lack of unity and a lack of strategy," he said. ’We need a clear agenda for moving on as this next presidential election approaches."
Nagin thanked Houston for its efforts to take in evacuees in the wake of Katrina and applauded its hospitality in hosting the festival, but that doesn't mean he'd like to see it remain in the city.
’You have done a fantastic job. But we want this festival back in New Orleans next year," he said to thunderous applause.
Event organizers haven't addressed whether they will return to New Orleans next year, but called the move to Houston temporary.
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