Sunday, January 22, 2006

Is there any actual rebuilding being done?

Since a question in a comment section is one that other people might want answered, I'll put my response up top so everyone can read it.

Mixter asked:

Is there any actual rebuilding being done? I mean, I know the tourist areas and the affluent neighborhoods are probably just about finished, but is anything even happening in the ninth ward?
I'm curious, because I can't imagine it's going to happen there any time soon.

Almost nothing is happening in the Lower Ninth Ward. People are going back to salvage what they can, but they're still forbidden from living there. I don't completely agree with their politics, but Common Ground is doing a fantastic job to help out that community, having created an organization with hundreds of committed volunteers from around the country. They say they've gutted 300 homes and made them marginally liveable. There's more about Common Ground in a recent podcast I produced, and on the Common Ground Web site.

New Orleans East, Mid City, Broadmoor, the Lakeview and other lakefront areas west of the Industrial Canal, Gentilly, St. Roch, Treme, and other areas that took a lot of flooding -- those areas are all in different stages of rebuilding, mostly depending upon the commitment and resources of the homeowners who live(d) there, and the amount of flooding there -- the flooding varied much more widely from block to block, and lot to lot, than one might imagine, with subsidence affecting some neighborhoods more than others depending upon what the land was like before it was developed, and some houses being built more raised than others, or sitting on lots that had more fill than others. Some areas, north of Claiborne and Napoleon for example, were literally ponds before they were drained. I am not, by the way, suggesting that the people who lived in those areas shouldn't be allowed, or helped, to return (as some planners in the Urban Land Institute, among others, are suggesting) -- it's simply a money and engineering question, and I believe the answers to both of those issues could be found if people put their heads and backs into it (leaving their backsides out of it).

There are certainly people living in those areas I mentioned, but it wouldn't be more than a handful of people -- maybe one or two residents on any given block right now. Many of those areas have electricity and water, but probably don't have gas.

Here's the critical issue: Safety.

People in those areas need to know that their investment in rebuilding won't be washed away in another flood. Our public servants -- especially King Bush -- need to state unequivocally that New Orleans will never flood again. They need to say that New Orleans will be ringed with Category 5 storm protection which includes comprehensive coastal restoration. Again, this is not an issue of money or engineering. We have the money. We have the know how. We need the courage and the leadership to make it happen.

I welcome any additional remarks locals might like to add to my overview.


At 1/22/2006 02:25:00 PM, Blogger Lady Morwen said...

In Gentilly we are organizing quickly.

Through the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association, databases are being compiled of inhabitants and what their decisions are as to returning to N.O.

We can be found at:

We are also interested in helping anyone within the city needing info on getting their neighborhoods up and running.

Morwen Madrigal,
"Reparations For New Orleans!"

At 1/23/2006 07:23:00 AM, Blogger Mixter said...

Thanks for posting this information. Unfortunately, there's not much news up here about what's going on down there.


At 1/24/2006 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Good summary. I was on Orleans in Mid City for new year's. There was a bonfire in the neutral ground (median) and lots of people there running around it and shooting fireworks. It was bittersweet, but encouraging. Broadmore (between Claiborne and St. Charles), which I live near, is coming back, albeit slowly, and Fountainbleau's been cleaned up, though it's sparsely populated. But huge chunks of the city are nearly dead. If, for example, you cross Canal on Broad, there's a working gas station, then several dead blocks, some with, some without electricity (just as you said). But then you get to an area around Orleans where there's more life--maybe 40% of the residents are back. Keep going and it eventually gets grim. Gentilly is a wasteland of empty, decimated homes (many of which might be salvaged--I don't know). And as you pointed out, the Lower 9th Ward is basically comatose. Much of it is simply gone. What remains runs of the gamut from repairable to ruined, with odds decidedly in favor of the latter, the closer you get to the levee breaches. The only area that bad is the first few beachside blocks of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Think Hiroshima.


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