Give New Orleans residents an opportunity to rebuild
While government officials urged New Orleans residents to stay out of the city after Hurricane Katrina, thousands of other people were making their way into the devastated Gulf Coast in search of opportunity.
They are finding it, too, as roofers, carpenters, truck drivers, bulldozer operators and as general handy workers.
Meanwhile, evacuees sit in temporary shelters far from their homes, with no jobs to help pay the bills.
The Rev. Jessie Jackson sees this situation as wrong, but as an opportunity, too.
He's right. What's to keep the federal government from setting up a Works Progress Administration like that of the Great Depression to help these victims help themselves?
It doesn't take much learning time to master a chainsaw. Most people can learn to drive a nail straight within a few hours; and they need the money that goes with the cleanup.
Most of them have lost everything. They've got to start over. So why not give the victims the first opportunity at these jobs, even if they require on-the-job training?
It is ironic that emergency workers and contractors find sleeping and eating accommodations in The Big Easy, while victims live in travel trailers in places like Joe Wheeler State Park.
Mr. Jackson says he plans a bus caravan South that could leave Sunday or Monday. He plans to pick up evacuees along the way who are eager to get home, find work and rebuild their city.
Some people have, no doubt, found their way home already and are participating in the cleanup. Others need a WPA-type program to give them the support, training and encouragement to get involved.
Big corporations such as Halliburton may be able to do things more efficiently, but paying storm victims to do the work will keep the money in New Orleans where it is desperately needed.
Rebuilding New Orleans is much more than removing debris and mold and raising houses. It's giving the people who live there a stake in their future.