The reconstruction of New Orleans has hit another snag: There's not enough housing, temporary or otherwise, for all the workers that are needed for the rebuilding as well as for the firms that are trying to get started again. And guess who's being blamed for it?
The housing problems, made worse by what some claim is the Federal Emergency Management Agency's slow response to install temporary trailers, have blocked many New Orleans residents from returning to jobs in businesses that are struggling to come back, local officials and business owners say.
"I've been trying to start up and run under the worst circumstances," said Elizabeth Turnbull, owner of Turnbull Bakeries Inc., a commercial bakery that before the storm had 80 people making Melba toast and fresh bread crumbs for customers around the country.
Many of her employees lived in the Irish Channel neighborhood in Uptown, where their homes were flooded. Today, they are scattered from Atlanta to Houston to Dallas.
"I have 29-year, 25-year, 20-year employees who want to come back, but they don't have homes," Turnbull said.
Nearly four weeks ago, she had a vacant lot at the bakery readied with power poles to accept a dozen trailers. And she applied to a state office working to dispatch trailers supplied by FEMA to businesses that need to house workers.
"I'm still waiting," she said. "They've been totally unresponsive."
Initially, officials worried that post-Katrina wages would be low. "That hasn't happened," said state Rep. Charmaine Marchand, D-New Orleans. "We have some of the best wages we've ever had."