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Katrina claimed

Katrina claimed 1,464 lives, destroyed 200,000 homes, destroyed 18,000 businesses and has recorded an insured loss of $ 25 billion. Before hurricane Katrina, Louisiana owned 86,000 small businesses in which more than 850,000 people were employed and were contributing $ 22 billion to the local economy. After hurricane Katrina, 71,000 businesses were nearly destroyed while 20,000 businesses were severely destroyed. Homeless residents number tolled up to 365,000.

Many people are still struggling and living in precarious conditions, far away from receiving minimum benefits from government such as loans for rebuilding homes, health care, insurance and medical aid. Although, Red cross and many other volunteer organizations are on the route of providing aid, the activities are at a slow pace and funds are not reaching the needy as fast as it is supposed to be which is why even after almost two years after Katrina, New Orleans continues to look for financial aid from Washington D. C.

The government estimated that the total clean up activity would require $ 200 – $ 300 billion in New Orleans and it is also true this has added to the present budget deficit of United States. The Louisiana Restaurant Association is one of the reputed business organizations in the State which represents more than 7,500 restaurant operations and other related businesses. LRA has direct employment of nearly 140,000 and another 55,000 indirect employment which is an evident fact that LRA is a source of regular income for nearly 200,000 people on a regular basis.

This also gives out another fact that, post-Katrina LRA had lost a great volume of business, much to the surprise of even restaurant owners. LRA holds a high esteemed place in small business category. The state that thrives on tourism and restaurant industry had recorded a great volume of loss in terms of tourism industry and in restaurant industry. Further there was a severe damage caused to coffee production and seafood industry. According to Southeastern Fisheries Association, 2. 5 million pounds worth catch of spiny lobster was lost due to Katrina.

According to National Fisheries Institute in McLean, Va, Louisiana has a $ 300 million worth oyster industry, which produces 40 percent of nation’s oysters which were damaged due to water-log. A similar situation with shrimps which carrries a business worth of $ 234 million, which accounts to one percent of total U. S. production. Katrina caused damage to boats, docks, ice houses and processing plants. According to the report of The Center for Natural Resource Economic and Policy at Louisiana State University, the total damage to the Gulf Coast fisheries amounts to a total between $ 700 million and $ 1.

3 billion. Prior to Katrina there were 13,000 commercial fisherman working in Louisiana and presently very few less than half continue in fishing operations. Fishing community is still facing problems with lack of funds or loans from government disabling fisherman in rebuilding boats, docks and processing plants. According to Louisiana Oyster Taskforce, fisherman had put efforts to receive small buisness loans which have been rejected on the grounds of having no regular income source. A grant of $ 1.

1 billion had been allotted towards seafood aid for rebuilding infrastructure in coastal communities and to consider preventive measures for future disasters and also for employment training and environment cleaning. As on date there are 391 Louisiana businesses and 32 New Orleans businesses are for sale in MergerNetwork database . This sale of businesses includes real estate, gas centre, retail clothes, child care center, sea food and fast food centres and many other chains stores. Senator John Kerry and Senator Landrieu personally worked very hard for New Orleans revitalization program.

Senator John Kerry visited Louisiana on May 5, 2006 and made personal discussions with Jim Funk, CEO of Louisiana Restaurant Association about restaurant workforce of New Orleans which has reduced drastically from 133,000 to 22,000. Further only 1,500 restaurants out of 3,400 restaurants which were present prior to Katrina, are re-opened. There were 12,695 small businesses which was a source of income for 245,000 people in August, 2005 and as on May 2006, after Katrina, only 2,000 businesses are re-opened.

Apart from this, there is a huge store of garbage, hundreds of disowned cars in poor conditions, which means seventy percent of the city is completely in deteriorating condition which requires excessive measures of immediate working for restoring with all kind of rebuilding of infrastructure. Additional police and fire protection, environmental cleaning, is the emergent need as much to the dissatisfaction of residents, mosquitoes and rodents are piling up which may spread disease especially for children and infants. There is garbage to be collected almost in front of every home.

Disaster Management Fund of $ 9 billion has been sanctioned by administration whereas only $ 1 billion has been reached to the Gulf Coast businesses and for residents in order to rebuild the communities. Further National Weather Service reports state that there is a forecast of fourteen storms which may hit New Orleans in the next hurricane season. Stormy winds blowing with the speed of 60 – 70 miles per hour spreads debris in huge volumes which is a very laborious job to clean up. The Senate passed an emergency fund of $ 2. 2 billion towards reconstruction of Southeast Louisiana, $ 1. 5 billion for Orleans Parish levee projects and $ 1.

3 billion towards disaster loan program. Senator Landrieu and John Kerry provided two main key amendments for the above funding. The first being to ensure SBA to sponsor disaster response program to Congress and secondly SBA is required to submit a monthly report to Congress about the status of disaster plan program that has effected post-Katrina and also for future natural calamities if any, take place in New Orleans. The Senate passed a legislation S. 1807 which states that essential bridge loans and grants can immediately be given to those who are in need of funds especially for small local businesses.

It is the responsibility of the government, to hurry up the restoration activities in New Orleans whether by the assistance of volunteers or by the help of government officials specially appointing as officers of disaster management, to bring businesses and life style of common people to normal working system. Not overstating, citizens rely only on governments in helpless situations such as hurricane Katrina. The above discussion clearly indicates that government has been doing its best efforts for post-Katrina situation in funding and in rendering volunteer service.

There is a growth in population, schools being re-opened and there are indications of strong economic growth in New Orleans. For the year 2007, there is a restoration by 79 percent in Sales Tax revenue and in recruitment of employees in various businesses. However there is requirement for more improvements to be made in bringing back the businesses, encouraging new employment opportunities, opening new self-employment schemes for helping people to recover from economic loss at a fast pace. Still, people are not freed from the fear of disaster and destability in status of living. A furniture business that was established in 1971 in St.

Claude Avenue states that forty per cent of business is down and thirty percent of people have never returned to New Orleans and many houses still remained abandoned. There have been reasonably good efforts from every end for restoration of physical and economic growth of New Orleans. Population growth, employment growth and especially schools being re-opened are all positive outcomes indicating that New Orleans is recovering from Katrina. There are future programs of Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) which includes concentration on neglected areas such as unemployment, poverty, economy, coastal protection system and re-opening of businesses.

Some of the essential recovery steps that are to be pursued on constant basis would be, to first take up entire cleaning up process and secondly, opening up of several “we help” locations, in order to find out what the local people and businesses are in need of, listen to grievances and solve problems of each by providing contact nos, help lines and even by recommending financial loans. Help line on day basis, review of progress on monthly basis which is submitted by volunteer organizations to the government, would further offer immediate assistance in restoring the environment of New Orleans.

Apart from this, initiative steps can also be made from local residents in approaching SBA with relevant documentation for finances, detailing about businesses, pre-Katrina financial statements, operations of business, through which SBA would provide financial loan assistance to genuine businesses which were recording good volumes of business prior to Katrina. A complete guidance and preventive care must be provided to local residents of New Orleans which would help people in taking preventive measures of safety and security from future hurricanes.

Chefs of New Orleans are of the opinion that 2007 has been reasonably a good year in increasing heavy number of visitors and still claim that business is not yet back to 100 per cent. “The steakhouse is probably doing 30% more; at August, it’s at least that. Without the tourists, the locals were able to get in and get the reservations they wanted. ” (John Besh, Restaurant August) “We just had four of the biggest record months we’ve ever had. We are on target to have the best year we’ve ever had since we opened in 2001, by probably 35%. The numbers are all there. We definitely made the right decision in staying.

” (Scott Boswell, Stella) ” When we were getting Commander’s reopened, we did all these crazy budgets, because we had no idea what kind of business we were going to do. We were scared and nervous, so we did everything from the lowest-of-the-low to ridiculously high projections. We’re probably doing about 75% of our business, and we feel blessed. ” (Lally Brennan, Commander’s Palace) “We’re at about 50% of business. We opened on Dec. 29, and it was wonderful. The house was filled with New Orleanians, and half the people had on black tie to celebrate the coming back of Antoine’s.

” (Colette Guste, Antoine’s) “After the storm we were closed for four months; we opened Jan. 1, 2006, with almost a full staff, a full menu and regular hours. We’ve been very fortunate that we have so many regular customers, not just local customers, but also people who live in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. So even though the French Quarter has been hurting for a lack of tourist and convention business, we’ve been fortunate. ” (David Gooch, Galatoire’s) “Last year was the best year we ever had out of six years at Herbsaint. This year we’re on track to do better than last year.

Cochon is right up there with Herbsaint”. (Donald Link, Herbsaint and Cochon) Louisiana Economic Development (LED) is extending business services for opening new businesses, providing loan assistance for existing businesses and by even providing tax incentives. There are state business incentives, Federal business incentives, financial assistance through Micro Loan Program, Contract Loan Program, Venture Capital Match Program, Venture Capital Co-Investment Program, Louisiana Seed Capital Program, BIDCO Investment Program, Specialty BIDCO Investment Program and Workforce Development Program.

In government reformation programs, there are workforce reform, education reform, healthcare reform and paving the Road Home Reform. Further Louisiana Economic Development Council has identified few industries which would enable Louisiana to lay strong foundation in technology and research, viz. , advanced materials, agriculture, food, forestry, wood products, construction, durable goods, energy/oil/gas, entertainment, information technology, life sciences and logistics. International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is has been recruiting volunteers through LED for speeding up the activities in Louisiana for restoration of businesses.

There are web sites of Louisiana Restaurants such as Drago’s Seafood, OpenTable. com which display menus, facilities, pricing and parking facilities in detail to enable tourists and businessmen to avail the facility of reservation for dining and lodging. There are career opportunities in hospitality industry in Louisiana Restaurants and presently there are 390 vacancies offering the post of general manager, guest servicing agent, chefs, cooks, marketing managers, catering manager and various other clerical cadre jobs.

There is a complete list of Louisiana Restaurants that offer all cuisines of food both continental and intercontinental which information is available on web sites enabling customers to easily locate restaurants. For the year 2007, LRA “Restaurateur of the Year” award has been awarded to Ema Haq, owner of Bailey’s Seafood and Grill and Ema’s Restaurant in Lafayette. LRA award is the most prestigious award and would be given to only to those, who contribute and dedicate services to the development of LRA. LRA is of the opinion that New Orleans restaurant business is improving.

Reports of LRA state that 1,562 restaurants are opened in metro areas out of 3,414 restaurants. Further there are 65 new restaurants established in the city after Katrina and are prospering which indicate that the other supporting industries such as tourism and airline industries are also back to regaining business. Press release dated September, 2007 states that $ 74 million were funded towards Cottage Home Project in Louisiana which would enable construction of 400 homes which is selected by Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA).

. “Today’s announcement marks another significant step forward on the long road to recovery. This is one of those rare moments when the storms actually provided us with an opportunity for change, an opportunity for improvement – a chance to do things differently than before-and I’m thrilled that Louisiana Cottages will serve as a model for the Federal government to provide safer, more comfortable housing to disaster victims in the aftermath of a catastrophe. ” (LRA Infrastructure and Transportation Chairman John T.

Landry) Cottage project has two models. The first being Cypress cottage is for a single family and the second model is Carpet Cottage with different style of designing. This project also leads to the improvement of other services to tourists, health services and improvement in neighborhood life styles. Cottage project would further add the number of customers of restaurant industry as the city was fled by people due to dilapidated homes and due to poor living conditions.

It is also an agreeable fact that, with constant improvement in all sectors such as industries, businesses, schools, fuel supply, electricity supply, commercial and real estate property, more and more people would prefer coming back to New Orleans with the confidence that is provided by federal state and public functioning bodies by undertaking re-organizing and restructuring the city. All these are attributing factors to the growth of restaurant industry as it thrives on repetitive visits of local residents, tourists, holiday visitors or corporate meetings or business visits.

LRA has been performing outstandingly in spite of hurdles and obstacles that were encountered by the restaurants in post-Katrina times. LRA celebrates anniversary of Katrina and maintains a monthly report of restaurant industry in Louisiana. LRA maintains minutes of meetings, records new developments and works for continuous improvement in workforce and in considering extra measures of Insurance Fund for LRA employees. The restaurants in Louisiana are expecting to record $ 5. 1 billion sales by the year-end of 2007.

It is important for LRA to take note of rise in fuel prices that are rising which leaves a great impact on restaurant industry from all perspectives. Especially airline industry and cars industry would be severely affected with rise in fuel prices. Further, customers who often visit restaurants, may cut out number of visits to restaurants with price hike in fuel prices. Further LRA must ensure self-supply and restoration of seafood in Louisiana viz. , Oysters, shrimps and fishes which accounts a greater portion in supply of menus on regular basis.

Conclusion The entire discussion of post-Katrina indicates that there is great necessity for U. S government to boost its GDP growth in economy extensively, with the fact that, there are areas that require re-building of infrastructure, with another supporting fact that the government is already working with deficit budget. SBA must put forth initiative steps to provide guidance to small businesses to stabilize at a fast pace reducing the burden of U. S government. Although a great amount of efforts have been exercised by both U.

S government by funding to New Orleans to recover from Katrina, certainly, it would take another year to regain its past glory. Till such time, it is important to constantly pursue and work for early development of New Orleans. Resources (1) Anonymous, How we fight hunger and poverty Retrieved November 20, 2007 from http://www. strength. org/response/hurricane/ (2) Allison Perlik (2007, New Orleans: Still cooking Retrieved November 20, 2007 from http://www. rimag. com/archives/2007/08/sr-katrina. asp (3) Amy Liu, Allison Plyer, A Review of Key Indicators of Recovery Two Years after Katrina

Retrieved November 21, 2007 from http://www. gnocdc. org/NOLAIndex/ESNOLAIndexAug07. pdf (4) Dexter Ligot-Gordon (2007) The New Orleans Region after Katrina, a Perspective Retrieved November 20, 2007 from http://www. insightcced. org/uploads///nnsp/partnerpress/mar07/nor_issue1_07. htm (5) Drago’s seafood restaurant Retrieved November 21, 2007 http://www. dragosrestaurant. com/press_bios. htm (6) Economic Recovery Initiatives Retrieved November 21, 2007 from http://www. iedconline. org/? p=Gulf_Volunteer_Program (7) Featured dining restaurants in Louisiana Retrieved November 21, 2007 from

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