I hesitate to publicly complain about what is an insignificant storm-related issue in light of the damage incurred in other communities as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, the inability of federal government agencies to address the simple task of collecting storm debris in Lafayette underscores the frustration of dealing with federal "help" at all levels. And it is at the center of disenchantment that the general public has with all of government.

As a representative of District 6 on the Lafayette City-Parish Council, I have received more communication on the storm debris collection issue than about any other. And, what's most disheartening is that constituents associate the problem with "government" and don't differentiate between local, state and federal.

By nature, I am not inclined to point a finger of blame, but I make an exception on this issue: FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have failed to carry out their commitment to our community.

The Corps contract is now in Phase 2 (second pass) of the collection process. This would suggest that the "first pass" was completed. Far from it. The debris pick up has been sporadic at best and a delayed and confused operation at worst.

For example, following numerous complaints about failure to pick up on one street in District 6, a Corps representative visited with a constituent and acknowledged that there was a problem but that he could not provide an explanation. He did "promise" to follow up; that was two weeks ago and, as of today, the debris remains. It is that lack of response that surfaces at every level and effort in dealing with the Corps.

On a personal level, the street on which I reside was the only one in the subdivision not to have been cleared of debris. I was reluctant to complain because I am an elected official and did not wish to be accused of seeking special treatment. I can assure you that is not the case; the federal effort gives equal mistreatment to all.

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