Friday, April 07, 2006
By VICTOR EPSTEIN
WASHINGTON - Michael Brown, former director of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, is negotiating a consulting contract with St. Bernard Parish, the area in New Orleans hardest-hit by Hurricane Katrina.
Katrina spawned floodwaters that inundated the low-lying community between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico for two weeks after its Aug. 29 landfall there. The storm claimed 129 lives and destroyed 26,000 homes in St. Bernard.
Parish leaders expressed confidence in Brown's ability to help them compete more effectively with large communities for federal funding and speed a recovery they say has been mired in bureaucratic red tape.
"He's going to be the answer to the problems we've been having," Henry "Junior" Rodriguez, president of St. Bernard Parish, said Thursday.
Brown said he could "counsel them as far as why certain things happen and don't happen within the federal bureaucracy."
"I can help make sure they don't get overlooked," he said. "It's a very complicated process and I can help them navigate their way through it."