September 7, 2005


Putting Down New Roots on More Solid Ground (SUSAN SAULNY, 9/07/05, NY Times)

In her 19 years, all spent living in downtown New Orleans, Chavon Allen had never ventured farther than her bus fare would allow, and that was one trip last year to Baton Rouge. But now that she has seen Houston, she is planning to stay.

"This is a whole new beginning, a whole new start. I mean, why pass up a good opportunity, to go back to something that you know has problems?" asked Ms. Allen, who had been earning $5.15 an hour serving chicken in a Popeyes restaurant.

For Daphne Barconey, Hurricane Katrina disrupted plans for a grand house to be built on a $150,000 lot that she bought in eastern New Orleans just months ago.

Now, just eight days after the storm, she has a job in a hospital here, a year's lease on a four-bedroom apartment near the Galleria mall and no plan to return to New Orleans.

Jason Magee is a golf pro who says now is the time to move away from his native New Orleans. "I had been looking for an excuse to leave, and this is it," he said.

From across the economic spectrum, whether with heavy hearts or with optimism, the hundreds of thousands of people who fled the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are already putting down roots in new cities. [...]

Since its population peaked at almost 630,000 in 1960, New Orleans has been steadily losing its people. According to the last census, 445,000 people lived there. But a trickle of people over the decades is quite a different matter from what the city now faces, a sudden population bust that could subtract up to 250,000 people.

"I look at the situation, and it brings fear," said Rodney Braxton, the city's chief legislative lobbyist.

At the point where politicians and the media are fretting about luring folks back to the flood basin can we stop pretending that anyone was serious about avoiding the catastrophe in the first place? Just restore the port facilities and the Disney Downtown version of the city and you'll have an easily evacuable and economically feasible town..

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2005 6:43 AM

How did Tulane, Loyola and the other college campuses in New Orleans fare? I haven't seen anything about it in the news coverage. Will they open for the fall semester?

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 10:57 AM

Most New Orleans colleges are telling people to enroll elsewhere for the fall semester.

Posted by: Timothy at September 7, 2005 10:59 AM

A few posts below this, a debate is brewing about whether the storm was a net cost or benefit from an economic perspective.

This post proves OJ's point. There are probably massive social benefits to hollowing out NO like a gourd.

Few of them will be seen.

OJ, you are rockin' 701,732 hits. I wanna be like you when I grow up.

Posted by: Bruno at September 7, 2005 11:10 AM

It really will be interesting to see how many people bother to return to NO. If the exodus is large enough (i.e. 100K or more) then the incentive to rebuild the city and spend $BNs on a new levee system will be harder to justify.

And to OJ's point DisneyWorld has New Orleans as one of its theme hotels (Dixie Landings - French quarter) - perhaps it can be expanded.

Posted by: AWW at September 7, 2005 11:50 AM

I have seen many professionals and executives locked into a boring or dead-end career by ‘golden handcuffs’. Along comes a down sizing, termination or other seeming disaster. The result is a forced change to a far better career path. Frequently, a personal disaster is a ‘blessing in disguise'. I am confident that this phenomenon is applicable to the people of New Orleans, regardless of station in life. Except for those that have been completely corrupted by the welfare state.

Posted by: tgn at September 7, 2005 2:32 PM

Or completely drowned by the hurricane. Why don't we wait until after we've gotten a good estimate of casualties before we break out the champagne.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 7, 2005 3:21 PM

I'm in Texas, and they like it here alot better. Say it's friendlier, which it is for some folks.

Posted by: Stormy70 at September 7, 2005 3:22 PM

That other thread baffles me. Apparently some people are intent on seeing all tragedies as a Bad Thing with no positive effects, and accusing those who disagree of seeing tragedies as Good Things with no negative ones. That good can come from an unqualified tragedy should not be a great shock to anyone, can it?

Posted by: Timothy at September 7, 2005 5:31 PM


"It's an ill wind that blows no good" and "Every cloud has a silver lining" are good summations of your point, are they not?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 7, 2005 8:56 PM

As near as I could tell, Most of the Tulane campus is on high ground, but the Medical Center is underwater. UNO looks like it is underwater.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 10:31 PM

Tulane and Loyola have cancelled classes for the Fall semester.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at September 8, 2005 12:28 AM