The revised estimates for the cost of Katrina are now 200 billion dollars.
The hurricane is estimated to have destroyed about four hundred thousand jobs, most of them in the New Orleans area, which is the countries only deep water port for oil imports, and is also a big exporting facility. These are the largest ports in the nation.
Because of higher transportation costs and shortages caused by disruptions in imports, grocery bills will be going higher, and since the gasoline tab is already up by about a billion a week, it seems likely that the food bill will be going up by billions as well.
FEMA is currently spending about one to two billion dollars a day, which means that the 10.5 billion originally allocated will be spent in the next couple of days, thus leading to the request for 50 billion.
Raising the levees around New Orleans to level required for a level 5 hurricane would have cost between one and two billion dollars. This means that for the cost of one or two days spending by FEMA the city of New Orleans could have been spared from destructino, and the nation could have been spared much of the hundreds of billions of dollars in associated costs of this disaster.
But the ideology of 'privatization' and 'downsizing' and 'the free market' excludes the spending of money by the government on any program other than the military industrial complex, and spending that one or two billion was rejected as prohibitively expensive. For as any good book keeper knows, you really have to watch those nickels, and then the dollars will take care of themselves.