Moving within the parish

The LRA(Louisiana Recovery Authority), just doesn’t seem to get it. According to figures in a new state report, the LRA just does not seem to understand anything about Terrebonne Parish, Lafourche Parish, or anything else for that matter. As example, look at the number of houses damaged or destroyed in both parishes, according to the FEMA data they use.

Looking at FEMA data, however, Bowman said about 3,000 homes in both parishes were heavily damaged or destroyed, so most of the migration within the parish was not immediately forced by the storms. However, parishes such as Orleans and Cameron that bore the brunt of the hurricanes also showed high figures for internal migration.

Just taking one bayou community alone, it would make up nearly that many homes. One of those communities, Dulac, showed the population of 2,458 in the 2000 census. Dulac was one of the communities that was flooded out by Rita, and where graves were floating away. But they somehow think 3,000 is a rational number. Is it any wonder why New Orleans and the surrounding areas are getting some much delay from the LRA? If they have problems keeping up with this area, the areas of mass exodus have no chance. If you want to know about Dulac, look no further.

In this coastal area of Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish, 90 percent of which is covered by wetlands or water, government neglect is nothing new. The economic poverty of the residents here is starkly apparent, even with the most recent destruction layered on.

According to the 2000 Census, the per-capita income is $8,785 per year in Dulac, a town that is almost 40 percent Native American. More than 30 percent of the area’s residents struggle to make ends meet below the federally recognized poverty line. Fewer than 30 percent possess a high school diploma or equivalent.

Dulac, population 2,458, is just one bayou town among many in the area southwest of New Orleans hit by Hurricane Rita and then largely ignored by government relief agencies.

Brenda Dardar Robichaux, principal chief of the United Houma Nation, put it all in perspective in 2005.

Robichaux said that her tribal members face severe obstacles when attempting to access help from FEMA. Since her people were not allowed into public schools until the 1960s, many cannot read or write. On top of that, many do not speak English.

“We’re looking at a whole population of people who are not aware of the FEMA process and could not even do it by themselves,” she said.

So Robichaux finally convinced FEMA to set up a contact point at the tribal center where she and others could help people through the process. But, she said, FEMA representatives have only come a few times, have stayed only a few hours and have so far refused to give her enough notice to alert tribal members who need help.

When asked to put the lack of government hurricane assistance into historical context, Robichaux said, “It’s disappointing but not surprising because that’s been our relationship [with the government] throughout.”

Economist Loren Scott, uses the “economy booming” excuse for the inner parish movement.

One reason for so much movement inside Terrebonne and Lafourche could be the booming local economy, said economist Loren Scott. Along with high sales-tax collections from bustling retail markets and steady job creation, some people might simply be using their higher salaries to buy new, nicer houses, he suggested.

“That’s the fastest-growing place in the state,” Scott said. “The economy is really rocking and rolling.”

So an oil boom is all the rage now Mr. Scott? Do you remember the late eighties Mr. Scott? I remember those bumper sticker saying “last one to leave Houma, turn out the lights” as people were layed off and companies relocated to Lafayette. My family now lives in Lafayette, and they got moved there during that time. I’ll give you a hint as to why people are moving around in the parish. Pay close attention now!

“They’re trying to stay as much as possible,” Brown said. But, because of insurance and flooding, “people are looking to move to the higher ground.”


“People still love to buy down the bayous,” Pellegrin said. “These are their homes, and that’s where they want to live.”

Insurance costs, however, are pricing people out of those lowest-lying communities. A house with a $2,500 yearly insurance premium in west Houma would cost $6,000 a year down the bayou, Pellegrin said, forcing brokers to cut prices on down-the-bayou homes by thousands of dollars below the appraised value.

“The driving force is insurance,” she said of the population shifts. “People are not scared of hurricanes here.”

Got that? Insurance is the driving force! But I guess the the righties would suggest that we teach those people English. It’s Merika after all. Those damned Indians think they have a right to be here, huh?

Cross Posted from The Katrinacrat Blog

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