News from the heart of New Orleans

Saturday, November 26, 2005
I got a brief email today from my grad school friend, who lives in the heart of New Orleans in the Garden District.

It's important to realize that her part of the city was, after the French Quarter, the least affected by the floods. What New Orleans has is a systemic illness.


Things are okay for me and my family but the city of New Orleans is in bad shape. It is in danger of dying. The population is down to one fourth its usual number, I heard. There still are missing stop signs on busy intersections. Many businesses are still closed, even in well-off uptown. I miss Starbucks and Whole Foods. Many businesses are dying, I heard, because they have no workers. Business looks like it is good for those which are open.


I talked to another friend, from Miami, who had spent a week helping family to rebuild their house in a small town north of Lake Pontchartrain. This town was hit hard by the hurricane; the flood line on the house was near the top of the front door, just as it was in the hardest-hit parts of New Orleans. He said that as soon as the flood waters receded, the family was out there tearing out sodden drywall and carpet, and rebuilding their homes.

He'd driven through New Orleans on his way out of town, and was astonished to find that no rebuilding was going on; the houses were mostly abandoned, and being left to decay.

I love New Orleans, but I wouldn't be surprised if the hurricane were merely the event that revealed the systemic illness that lay beneath the surface there.

9 comments:

Buddy Larsen said...

Most of my family lives in Cajun Louisiana, and the word from the area is, ten years before it functions again, and insofar as the NewO bloc-vote is what has kept Louisiana barely in the Dems column, say hello to the newest firm senate GOP pickup. Lord, how the senate can use it, too. Soon, "majority" may go from 60% to who nows--75?

I wonder, BTW, what the new word is for "over half"? Can't be "majority" anymore. How 'bout "kerplump" or "crashedhope"?

David Thomson said...

New Orleans had largely become a welfare society. Such citizens lack a viable work ethic and an attitude of self determination. They expect, even demand, that the state take care of their immediate needs. I find it hysterical that anyone believes that this city can be resurrected anytime in the near future. Instead, the city should slowly evolve around a working citizenry. The hell with the “planned city” nonsense. Low taxes and extremely few zoning restrictions are the way to go.

The problem with using common sense regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans is the racially charged rhetoric employed by the liberal elites. They point out that most of the permanent underclass of the city are black skinned. Accusations of racism are freely thrown around. This is most unfortunate. It virtually guarantees an enormous waste of time and money. Alas, why couldn’t the vast majority of these residents be caucasian? It would have made things so much easier.

Buddy Larsen said...

Because all the caucasian poor people are in Mississippi. Plenty of poor folks thereabouts, in Dixie--the deal with New Orleans is, nothing YET has ever had a chance to break up the combination created during Reconstruction--7 generations ago, oddly--by General Benjamin Butler (of, right, Massachusetts). The General may've designed the great Not-A-Plantation Plantation, which is still doing such grievous injury (see Bill Cosby) to its purported beneficiaries.

terrye said...

I went home to Oklahma to visit family not long after the big tornado devastated much of the state a few years ago.

Within weeks subdivisions that had been destroyed were rows of driveways and sidewalks with debri piled up here and there to be hauled away.

Oklahoma is a poor state and that F5 really made a mess of things, but they did not just let the remains sit there.

Is the federal money getting there yet? I seem to remember everyone complaining that it was going to bankrupt the country to rebuild New Orleans...what is the story?

Buddy Larsen said...

Just to set our minds right, before considering the costs, we should look in on the cultural benefits (skip the economic, we'll have a port at the mouth of the Mississip regardless).

Buddy Larsen said...

...tsk!

Barry Dauphin said...

I'm in New Orleans over Thanksgiving and will post about it next week when I have more time and access to my regular computer. I took a lot of pictures and have been picking up bits and pieces of information. I went through much of the damaged areas of the city, including West End, Lakeview, etc. Miles of neighborhoods that are uninhabited. Night time is eery, but crime is way down (almost no murders recently). There are almost no open businesses and no one living on Canal St. all the way from downtown to the cemetries, and that is very weird. There is very slow progress in terms of clean up, but there is a longstanding culture of passivity in New Orleans. We make great music and food, but not so many great roads, bulidings or anything else that takes lots of initiative. There is a new plan concerning reconsturction out, but Nagin was in Jamaica this week, so he seems to have missed it. Did Rudy G. take a vacation a couple of months after 9/11? There is both a city commission on rebuilding and a state commission and at this point in time, they do not work together and have virtually no communication. I agree with the low tax route. Yet, I think there needs to be some planning (and I don't like any idea of central planning) because there needs to be some kind of oversight about which areas should not be rebuilt. There are some areas of the city that probably should become available to let water go to. The Feds must have a role because this will involve a lot of tax money from US citizens, and it cannot simply be poured into the bottomless pit of Louisiana corruption.

Rick Ballard said...

What is truly crazy is that no one is speaking of the situation as an opportunity to set up a two hundred year system at a relatively low cost. Exercise eminant domain for a 100' construction area inside the current levees and build a consistently designed and constructed flood wall at a height that would withstand a Cat 5. The engineering and construction is relatively easy and the old levee would serve as a coffer dam for constuction of the new levee. That in itself would cut actual construction cost by about 20% and would allow all construction to be done from the dry side, which would save another 10-15%.

It jist ain't all that complicated.

Buddy Larsen said...

The magnificent Parthenon came to be built as Pericles' way of re-uniting Athens after it was razed by Al Quaeda--oops--the Persians--around five centuries BCE. The single unifying idea was that the people needed a single unifying idea.