A Plan Is Needed For Katrina Cottage Money

Sixteen months after Katrina, we're encouraged to see that the nation has not forgotten the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Another $280 million of federal money has been earmarked to help the Coast rebuild. $280 million dollars for Katrina cottages.

But before this money is dropped into FEMA's hands, we have a few questions. How many cottages will this money buy? How long will it take to construct these cottages? How many people will still need temporary housing when these units are ready to go into the field? And how much of this money will simple disappear into the bureaucracy called FEMA as overhead or administrative expense?

A week ago, FEMA couldn't give specific answers to those questions. We don't think FEMA should distribute money until they can be answered. However, since it appears the cottages are coming to Mississippi, we have a few suggestions.

We implore FEMA to set specific timetables, so people understand these homes are temporary. We challenge FEMA to spell out what sort of security will be provide at each cottage location. People must feel safe.

We think FEMA should explain what happens to the cottages once the temporary tenants move out. If the plan is for them to become permanent parts of out communities, FEMA must explain how that will happen and local Governing bodies must support the idea for locating the cottages within their communities.

FEMA must determine who's eligible for a cottage before they're built. And FEMA must have its people in south Mississippi to answer questions about eligibility as soon as possible, so the agency doesn't repeat the mistakes it made when it delivered FEMA trailers.

We would hate for FEMA to send $280 million to Mississippi without a well thought out plan that protects hurricane victims, communities, and taxpayers.

That's our opinion, and we'd like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to editorials@wlox.com.

David Vincent
WLOX-TV Station Manager