The New Orleans Police Department, headquartered in trailers since Hurricane Katrina destroyed its buildings in August 2005, missed out on $2.6 million in federal rebuilding aid because it lacked adequate flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
FEMA, in a fact sheet announcing its set-aside of $14.5 million for the police department, said the city did not have “full” coverage on police buildings and could have received an additional $2.6 million if it had. A FEMA spokesman wouldn’t say what level of flood insurance, if any, the city carried on the specific buildings and their contents.
But Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, New Orleans’ deputy chief administrative officer, said it wasn’t reasonable to maintain full coverage on all city buildings before Katrina because they weren’t all in areas prone to flooding.
Generally, she said the city has had insurance on buildings in areas more susceptible to flooding and covered the cost of any damage to uninsured buildings through the city budget, in a process known as self-insuring.
Sylvain-Lear did not have specifics on the insurance of the police buildings. She noted the city has hundreds of public buildings.
Mayor Ray Nagin has made public safety a key component of his second term, backing, among other things, pay raises for police trying to curb the violent crime that threatens New Orleans recovery from Katrina. Making the criminal courts operational was a post-storm priority, and the city is pushing construction of a criminal justice complex to consolidate scattered court, legal and law enforcement offices.
Sylvain-Lear said the city is still working with its insurance company and couldn’t say whether she believes the $2.6 million estimate of money left on the table is correct.
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