Want to Know Where the Hurricane Relief Money Went?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The Institute for Southern Studies has released a report suggesting some ways out of the various social, physical, and financial quagmires caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The paper also dedicates a section to that ubiquitous question, “Where did the Katrina money go?” A few answers:

Amount that Bush administration says has been spent on Gulf Coast recovery since 2005 hurricanes: $116 billion

Estimated percent of those funds that are for long-term recovery projects: 30

Amount of FEMA’s 2005 disaster relief budget that was spent on administrative costs: $7 billion

Percent of the 2005 relief budget that represented: 22

Of $16.7 billion in Community Development Block Grants earmarked for long-term Gulf Coast rebuilding, percent that had been spent as of August 2007: 30

Of $8.4 billion allocated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for levee repair in Louisiana, percent that had been spent as of July 2007: 20

As of June 2007, value of controversial “cost plus” Katrina contracts given out by three federal agencies, which allows companies to charge taxpayers for cost overruns and guaranteed profits: $2.4 billion

As of August 2006, value of Gulf Coast contracts that a Congressional study found were “plagued by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement”: $8.75 billion

So the answer to that ubiquitous question in devastated areas—”When will I get my f*cking check?”—still appears to be, “Don’t hold your breath.”

For more details, check out the report.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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

Latest