U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled often to New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana to meet with state and local officials coping with recovery from and preparation for natural and manmade disasters.
As director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Kevin Davis coordinates disaster planning and response in Louisiana. He said Friday that Napolitano was receptive to local ideas and very hands on.
“We always worked together well and wish her well,” said Davis, a former president of St. Tammany Parish.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said Friday that Napolitano was an effective leader.
“She has worked with Louisiana in our efforts to not only recover from natural and manmade disasters, but to also rebuild smarter and stronger than before,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement. “In Louisiana, she partnered with us and the Cyber Innovation Center to invest in developing a workforce that has the necessary skills we need to fight against the increasing cyber threats our country faces.”
Napolitano also started the arbitration panel to resolve disputes between the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency over recovery funding issues.
One major ruling in Louisiana’s favor was for $475 million to replace the old “Charity” public hospital in New Orleans with the $1 billion University Medical Center project currently under construction.
The agency also awarded a $1.8 billion lump sum for the rebuilding of schools in the New Orleans area.
Napolitano also installed Craig Fugate to head FEMA and clean up the federal agency that was largely criticized in the wake of Katrina. She was the governor of Arizona prior to taking the job in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
“We knew each other quite well,” former Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. “She is a talented woman who did an outstanding job. She kept our country safe during these tumultuous years abroad.”