September 11, 2005


A City on the Brink: Plagued by problems before Katrina wreaked havoc, New Orleans may have the opportunity to come back even better, political and business leaders say. (Bill Sing and Thomas S. Mulligan, September 11, 2005, LA Times)

Long before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans faced a fierce economic storm.

Once considered the jewel of the South, the storied city was losing tourism and energy activity to other locales. Much of its office space was vacant, and it was falling back as a regional financial center. Its population was declining, and it suffered one of the nation's highest poverty rates. It was hobbled by neglect and dogged by a history of corruption.

Remaking the Big Easy won't be easy — some have even questioned the wisdom of rebuilding a city that lies below sea level near a hurricane-prone coastline. But New Orleans' political and business leaders and outside experts hope that a massive rebuilding effort will provide the city with an opportunity to come back even better than before.

The city could be revived by making its three core industries — tourism, transportation and energy — the most efficient and modern in the country, said Steve Cochrane, regional economist with, a research firm in West Chester, Pa.

New Orleans could retain its unique cultural flavor, embodied by its French Quarter and renowned cuisine, and possibly attract more visitors by enhancing its gaming industry and convention facilities, leaders and experts say. It could rebuild its port rapidly and take advantage of anticipated demand for shipments of building materials for reconstruction.

They key to such a sensible plan is to pull the population back out of the bowl for the most part.

What Will It Take to Safeguard New Orleans? (BILL MARSH, 9/11/05, NY Times)

NEW ORLEANS has long lived with the hurricane protection that it, and the nation, were willing to pay for. Measured against the costs of Katrina's fury, however, better armor may suddenly seem more affordable.

With officials vowing to rebuild New Orleans, the question of how fully to defend the city against another catastrophe will be examined as never before.

Unlike San Francisco or Los Angeles, where there is no way to prevent widespread destruction from the most powerful earthquakes, New Orleans is uniquely dependent on one feature: its aging network of levees. If levees hold back the water, the city is spared. If they fail, much of the city is ruined.

"For people to feel confident about coming back again, they're going to have to rebuild the levee system," said Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. They must be taller and stronger, he said, built for the worst-case Category 5 storm. Existing levees were designed decades ago to withstand only a quickly receding Category 3.

The success of levees in a restored New Orleans will depend partly on the resilience of other civil engineering, and on wetlands between the city and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the condition of these outer defenses is poor: Barrier islands and wetlands are disappearing, and gates to protect against storm surges and waves are years away.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 11, 2005 12:00 AM

New Orleans and the state of Louisiana simply need to pass a law banning the construction of any new residential housing below sea level. That won't stop all the flooding, but it will keep people out of areas that are guarenteed to flood.

Posted by: John at September 11, 2005 11:55 AM

Hmm. Didn't Barbara Bush same something similar this week? And who jumped on her remarks?

Could it be. . . . SATAN??? No, just the dying Leftist mass media.

Posted by: obc at September 11, 2005 1:39 PM

But the gotcha here is that the wetlands are disappearing in large part because of the levees.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 11, 2005 3:09 PM


Another alternative is to ban consruction where the first habitable floor is below sea level.

Then when it floods, only unevacuated cars and storage space gets flooded.

Most houses along the gulf shore are built this way already.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 11, 2005 9:38 PM