FEMA chief: N.O. not forgotten

New Orleans — While it’s approaching a decade since Hurricane Katrina and more recent disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, have captured the country’s attention, FEMA hasn’t forgotten about New Orleans and its recovery, the agency’s leader said on Tuesday.

“Katrina’s not done, and we still have work to do here,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said during a brief meeting with reporters at City Hall. “And there’s a lot of work that I think people look at Sandy and go ... ‘Well, is the world forgetting about Katrina?’ The answer is FEMA is still here.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he didn’t meet with Fugate on Tuesday with any specific requests, only to keep open the lines of communication.

“As the mayor and I have said time and time again, some of these answers aren’t always going to be easy, but we’re not going to not talk,” Fugate said. “We’re going to work through the challenges and get to the point where he will be able to say, and the president will be able to say, we have rebuilt from Katrina.”

Since Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agfency has obligated $940.5 million for city projects and $500.3 million for Sewerage & Water Board projects, according to Ryan Berni, Landrieu’s spokesman. There are about 150 projects that remain to be completed, Landrieu said.

With so much time spent on rebuilding their own city, Landrieu said local leaders are offering their rebuilding expertise to officials in areas that Sandy ravaged.

“New Orleans is this nation’s canary in the coal mine,” he said. “The things that happened down here are going to happen across the nation, and we ought to be available to the rest of the country to help them learn from the good things and the bad things.”