Saturday, May 06, 2006


bush is killing hurricane recovery unit of americorps

cross-posted at dkos.

just in from the times-picayune, Bush and pals are thinking of disbanding part of americorps: the national civilian community corps (nccc):
NCCC members, trained in first aid and team building, were among the first federal relief groups sent to the Gulf Coast, arriving within a day of Katrina's impact, officials said. Numbering as many as 300 at a time in Louisiana, and working in teams of about 10 members, they have tackled a litany of tasks in the New Orleans area, including house gutting, house building, delivering food, setting up a warehouse for donated household items and coordinating other volunteers. The NCCC, with workers ranging in age from 18 to 24, has provided more than 500,000 hours of service to post-Katrina recovery projects, officials said.

AmeriCorps officials don't see a conflict between eliminating the NCCC, which began in 1992, and the president's call for more volunteers during a visit to New Orleans last week. "If you're interested in helping the victims of Katrina, if you want to help them get back on their feet, then come on down to New Orleans," Bush said in the Lower 9th Ward.

Ben Brubaker, a former AmeriCorps volunteer in Georgia who now runs a relief kitchen in St. Bernard Parish with the help of NCCC teams, said the program brings good leadership to myriad volunteer efforts. Other AmeriCorps volunteers sent in from around the country aren't as flexible as the NCCC members, and can't stay as long, because they remain tied to service missions elsewhere, he said.

NCCC members, who call themselves "long-term volunteers," receive lodging, transportation and small daily stipends as they look forward to AmeriCorps' standard scholarship of $4,725 at the end of 10 months of service. They typically spend weeks at a time on any one assignment in the storm region.
the article says that bush (and potentially the bush-appointed americorps lackeys) are complaining about the high cost of this program:
...the notion, now under debate in Washington, D.C., that the disaster-response program responsible for the gutting team, the National Civilian Community Corps, should be disbanded. President Bush is advancing the idea in his proposed budget for next year, following criticism by the Office of Management and Budget of the program's $27,859 per-participant cost.
fine, when looking at that number out of context, it may seem high, but $27,859 seems like the annual figure, including food, living expenses, tools/supplies, and the scholarship/tuition stipend. if so, it suddenly doesn't sound like very much money after all.

how much does each soldier in iraq cost us? compared to hiring contracters to do the work (a la haliburton) this is pennies to their dollar. fine, maybe there is a more cost effective way to provide relief, but c'mon, does anyone here really trust this administration to come up with that?

the bigger picture here is "what the hell is our plan? remember everyone that hurricane season begins june 1 !!". 3 1/2 weeks until another potential hurricane katrina somewhere in florida or the gulf coast. are we ready?

for the short term until we design a better overall system, we need to rely on the parts of the government that actually work, and that have a solid track record of getting stuff done. the nccc is a good program, with idealistic young adults, who have the time and inclination to want to help. they should be nurtured, not fired.

and does anyone need reminders of all the work that still needs to be done in new orleans -- who wants to head south and gut a home? i've got a tyvek suit with your name on it...

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