MOSAIC NOLA:The Gentilly Project

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Paths to Permanent Return

A lack of leadership in New Orleans recovery is often described in a particular way.

The New York Times editorial, Death of an American City (12/11/05), describes it as a need to produce "a comprehensive plan for putting New Orleans back together."

In yesterday's New Orleans Time-Picayune, displaced resident Bernadette Porche puts it this way : "I'd love to go home, but it's the uncertainty of the rebuilding process...we have no real plan."

The greatest uncertainty is about the level of hurricane protection. The recent proposal to increased funding for levee protection is providing hope for lots of people as an important start, if not tangled up by other Congressional matters.

At the same time, there are families and businesses who want to see commitments for Category-5 level protection before they return. The new plan, which is builds on the Army Corps of Engineers existing plan, focuses on Category-3 protection.

Ivor van Heerden, director of the LSU Hurricane Center, adds another layer to many of the existing proposals: "in terms of the overall needs of southeast Louisiana, those are little more than Band-Aids." He suggests that restoring the existing levee design can't meet Category-3 protection. Surges generally associated with a Category 1 storm caused two of the levee breaches in New Orleans.

What can be done to invite a more serious commiment to hurricane protection?


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