Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Start Me Up, With Or Without You

Some New Orleans homeowners are breaking the law in order to have electricity restored to their homes. That shows the level of frustration that residents are dealing with when trying to move back into the city.

Vine, a building contractor, broke the law and risked serious injury or death. But like so many others in this hurricane-ravaged city, he figured it was the only way to avoid the red tape and hair-pulling frustration so many have faced in trying to get their electricity restored.

"People cannot possibly do this by the book and stay in the city," said Vine, who lives a block from one of the city's former mayors in the upper-middle-class Broadmoor neighborhood.

Last month I posted an article about the City of New Orleans waiving its requirement to obtain a permit prior to starting electrical work. What the article failed to mention is that inspections are still required. And therin lies the rub. You see, New Orleans has only six electrical inspectors for about 124,000 homes and businesses that were flooded. That's a helluva bottleneck.

But as usual, lawyers are throwing wrenches into the works:

"We can't waive the inspection because unfortunately the liability would be too great," said Clinton Vince, an attorney who advises the City Council's utilities committee. "The electrical work needs to be inspected because if the wire is not installed properly, it could cause serious safety problems — including loss of life."
I think homeowners understand the risk posed by playing with electricity. That's why they hire electricians. At least other city administrators understands that "These are extraordinary times."

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