Nation cannot rebuild without proper plan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2005

If the federal government is going to enter the construction business, leaders should pay attention to those who have been there before.

No smart contractor would try to construct a building without a detailed blueprint. Likewise, our nation shouldn't try to rebuild the Gulf Coast without that same type of plan.

The initial reaction by many people is that the federal government should just provide all the affected states with money and turn them loose. Some believe that, it is up to the individual communities because they know what is needed.

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That may be true, but the sheer magnitude of the undertaking and multiple states involved make the recovery efforts from hurricanes Katrina and Rita the most unprecedented rebuilding plan in our nation's history.

It will take tremendous leadership, oversight and ingenuity to make this happen. All this must start at the top.

President George W. Bush has indicated he will likely appoint a federal official to oversee reconstruction efforts throughout the South, though he encouraged local leaders to develop their own plans first.

Typically, state governors are responsible for disaster response and directing the actions of their state's National Guard. The Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also work with the states.

With numerous local, state and federal agencies working on rebuilding, it is vital that someone be in charge and have the ability to maintain the vision to see this long process through to the end.

A system of checks and balances should be utilized to ensure that this individual works hand in hand with each state to make the entire process go as smoothly as possible.

To simply leave all the planning and organization to state government, many of which have never dealt with anything remotely like this, would be a terrible mistake.

Rebuilding this vital portion of our great nation may be one of the most important undertakings of this decade or even an entire generation.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."

The nation's rebuilding must make that first step include creating a blueprint.