Louisiana hurricane evacuation money never spent on hurricane evacuation

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

In 1997, Congress ordered FEMA to develop a hurricane evacuation plan for New Orleans, but somehow, the money wound up in the coffers of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Commission. A report produced by the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission turned out to be about the needs of the Causeway through the year 2016.

No one is able to say how or why the $500,000 allocation ended up with the Causeway Commission. In 1999, Congress directed FEMA to consult with the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, as well as the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. The federal Department of Homeland Security printed a million evacuation maps for the state, which were part of Louisiana’s successful contra-flow traffic plan during the Katrina evacuation.

The first phase of the Hurricane Pam tabletop project did not address all of the state’s evacuation needs. A spokesman for the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has stated that he knows nothing about any FEMA funds allocated to the state prior to the Hurricane Pam project.

The 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the world’s longest bridge.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend