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Uncertain future for NOLA

NOLA is not a close friend of mine; she is more like an acquaintance. Since we are neighbors, we have visited back and forth. We have traveled there, and many New Orleans residents have traveled here. Many have decided to live here permanently.

New Orleans holds very fond memories for me. We flew in there in the 1970’s for a sales meeting. My job was to produce color 8×10 photos of the top salesmen. My backdrop was a lush courtyard outside of our French Quarter hotel. The shots turned out later to be hits with the winners and with their wives, too.

That night we all strolled down Bourbon Street,just as millions of other tourists have before and since. And we heard the familiar sounds of gut-bucket jazz coming through open doors, caught glimpses of skinny young women dancing on the bars, smelled the earthy and distinctive creole food, and watched others like ourselves going in the opposite direction. If I have nostalgia for those memories, just think how very bittersweet these descriptions are with readers who are intimate friends with NOLA.

She is still at risk. Yahoo!News reports that,

Despite aggressive efforts to repair the New Orleans levee system following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, it isn’t clear yet whether it could withstand a sizable hurricane this year, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers conceded Saturday.

The New Orleans levees may not hold, according to a similar CBS News article. To quote,

As Gulf Coast residents are marking the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, they were hit with the news that Tropical Storm Ernesto is headed toward the Gulf of Mexico and could become the first hurricane of the 2006 season. Then New Orleans residents were told Saturday that the partially repaired levee system may not hold up in a strong storm. . .

Just a few miles south of New Orleans, St. Bernard parish took a direct hit from Katrina. One year later, few of houses are habitable, and as many as 14,000 people are still in government trailers — trailers that won’t withstand any real wind.
“It would be almost a death sentence if they decide to stay in those locations with the approach of a Category 2 or 3 storm,” Jack Stephens, St. Bernard parish’s sheriff told Bowers.
Despite aggressive efforts to repair the system following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers conceded Saturday that it isn’t clear yet whether it could withstand a hurricane with a heavy storm surge this year.

New Orleans stands at a cross roads now. It seems it could go either way for this unique city. The New York Times has a very good story about this written by Adam Nossiter. The author has done a very thorough piece of investigative journalism about what may be in NOLA’s future. To quote,

At one edge of this city’s future are the extravagant visions of its boosters. Awash in federal cash, the New Orleans they dream of will be an arts-infused mecca for youthful risk-takers, a boomtown where entrepreneurs can repair to cool French Quarter bars in ancient buildings after a hard day of deal making.

At the other extreme are the gloomy predictions of the pessimists. New Orleans will be Detroit, they say, a sickly urban wasteland abandoned by the middle class. A moldering core will be surrounded by miles of vacant houses, with wide-open neighborhoods roamed by drug dealers and other criminals. The new New Orleans will be merely a grim amplification of its present unpromising self, the pessimists say.

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