LRA: The way it should be

What a difference three years makes.

Ask anyone that experienced the wrath of hurricanes Katrina or Rita what the worst part was and they’ll likely never mention the lost belongings or months of repair work that followed. The question will, however, open the floodgates to a litany of issues surrounding the state’s inept handling of the recovery in the aftermath.

The Louisiana Recovery Authority, the brainchild of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, was created in 2005. The recovery clearinghouse was supposed to serve as a direct one-stop place for citizens mowed under by the storms to find help in obtaining funding to rebuild.

Clearly, the system has not been without its problems.

In 2005, the state Legislature was reacting to a storm unlike any other. It’s one-size-fits-all approach ultimately created a fractured system that, until recently, continued to create as many problems as it fixed. And without clear direction at the top, sound decisions were lacking in the initial months after the storm.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, with the current state Legislature’s approval, will fix that once and for all.

By streamlining the process and essentially creating a recovery czar post, the governor is sending a clear signal to all who take note: recovery is on track, climb aboard or be prepared to be left at the station.

As executive director of the LRA, Paul Rainwater will be called upon to oversee recovery programs, including the oft-maligned Road Home grant program.

Rainwater is a familiar face to many who sat through long debates in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes regarding the need for adopting flood maps. Although Rainwater may have one time been a foe to opponents of the revised FEMA flood maps, he hasn’t wasted any time in meeting with local officials and hearing our concerns as they relate to rebuilding.

Louisiana has come a long way in three years. And there’s still much to be done. It’s a good sign that Jindal and our state lawmakers are rethinking the recovery process beginning with the structure of the LRA, the organization charged with overseeing rebuilding.