I returned from NOLA a few weeks ago and will be back again after Christmas. We're involved with the reconstruction.
Couple of issues that I see and a few facts:
The fed is floating plenty of money around down there for cleanup and reconstruction. Every large firm in the country that does this type of work is down there. All working flat out. Fatigue is setting in. It's 7 days a week. 16 hr./day work in difficult conditions. Everyone wants to work for the fed because the fed pays. Private companies with a lot of problems don't always do so. The fed pays less but they are reliable.
Capability is the issue. No place for workers to live other then temporary housing. Everyone wants to hire local labor but it is nearly impossible. Huge labor shortages in all industries.
Housing doesn't exist. What does exist is not habitable. The city needs to decide if entire neighborhoods are going to get razed and if so will they be rebuilt. They have not completed that assesmnet. The job is enormous and the people who do it don't have a place to go home to at night either. Major parts of Orleans parish made it though OK but the neighborhoods got destroyed
The utilities are coming back online but the reconstruction in monumental. The telephone, electric and cable grids were destroyed. They are not repairing they are constructing from scratch and I think the local power utility is banckrupt. Their employees are also either missing or homeless and the ones working are fatigued beyond fatigue.
The local, state and federal governemnt need a united front. Right now they are disjointed. The local govet. is hostile to both the state and feds. The feds and the state seem a little more cooperative with each other. The military and outside police forces are providing security throughout the city. The city has nowehere near enough people to patrol the city.
I think NOLA is being forgotten by the rest of the country. It is a huge undertaking to fix it. The population went from 450,000 to 60,000. I think it will settle on no more then 100,000 permanently. A lot of the neighborhoods will not be rebuilt. The houses are not salvagable that I saw. A few are but not many. The scop of the work is enormous. The city needs to make that call and it will be a tough political decision. That's what's holding up a lot of the construction work.
As to work opportunities. A lot of labor work exists. Illegals are getting some of the grunt work but the labor shortage is still enormous. 1000's of contractors from out of state are doing roofing, carpentry, cleanup and excavation work. The city needs thousands more. If you want to make some money buy a dump truck an excavator and hire a few laborers. You will have more work then you can handle for many months. Banks are advertising easy to get loans for people who want to do so in the area.