Mary Tutwiler

Three years, four storms, no Katrina cottages

by Mary Tutwiler

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the house named for the killer storm has yet to be built in Louisiana. Katrina Cottages, small modular homes designed in the vernacular of Gulf Coast architecture as an alternative to FEMA trailers, were supposed to be constructed for hurricane victims. The state agency responsible for overseeing construction, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency , failed to put together contracts to commission the homes. Governor Bobby Jindal handed over responsibility for Katrina cottages to the Louisiana Recovery Authority in April.

According to the Times Picayune, in a written statement last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “It is unacceptable that not one cottage has been built yet under this program. I’ve asked (LRA executive director) Paul Rainwater to take the lead . . . to cut through the red tape and do what it takes to expedite getting these cottages built.”

With the added pressure Hurricanes Gustav and Ike are putting on him, Rainwater is taking his job seriously , expediting paperwork with state contractor Cypress Realty Partners. Plans for developments with Katrina cottages are located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles.

The state of Mississippi went forward with their own Katrina cottage program immediately following the hurricane’s devastation along the coast. However, storm surges from Hurricane Gustav inundated a few hundred of the supposedly unsinkable 2,800 cottages Mississippi has built so far. The state condemned 230 cottages because of mold contamination. This may be a lesson learned that Louisiana can benefit from, in terms of construction, placement, and elevation in coastal areas — if this program ever gets off the ground.