T Nation

What's More Important for the U.S.?


Re-building New Orleans or our efforts in Iraq?

I would like to hear some points of view. I will tell you that is seems as if this country is ignoring our issues and that there is a mindset of ~Fuck New Orleans~

The biggest shame is that most of this devestation could have been avoided in the first place.


It seems New Orleans has been swept under the rug from the rest of the country. You would think there would be great interest in rebuilding, but it seems that there isn't a big effort now.


New Orleans is first and foremost. That city is part of America, from its amazing culture to its economic importance. Screw rebuilding Iraq. Get all those private contractors down to Louisiana, and make'em do something useful.


Are you in New Orleans, Bro?


Whenever it's needed to distract us from the "war" in Iraq, it'll be all over the news again.


No, but I have close friends that live there. They live in an apartment in the warehouse district. It is amazing how much of city is still in ruin and has garbage everywhere. There is a water line on all the homes and buildings in the area of the levee leak. The city is so quiet at night now. Many parts of town still don't have power. It's crazy.


How long will it take to rebuild NO? How many people will go back and how many will have already settled into new places?

Will it flood again if (when)it gets hit with a big hurricane?

This is a crazy situation.


I am more than sure Houston, along with many others cities, has absorbed what must be more than half of the population. I doubt the many will return after this. However, if we are going to fault them for rebuilding in that area, we might as well fault Miami, Los Angeles and any place else in this country prone to natural disasters.


There is a difference between making the mistake of building in a bad spot and rebuilding in same spot after the city is destroyed.

I believe the Port of NO is quite important. Even if the city was not rebuilt it on the same scale I don't think we could just abandon the city.

Without some real assurances that the levees were significantly more robust I would hestiate to try to turn NO back into a major population center.

I imagine the first order of business is to fix the levees and clean up the mess. After that is done it is really up to the people to decide who wants to live there and how much to rebuild.

Or possibly destroy the levees and let nature take over. Clean up the mess and see what happens. I am not well versed in hyrdrology, but this seems to be popular opinion among some so called experts.

Either way, this could mean a lot of jobs to just clean up the mess although I am sure the illegal workers would take them all. (Sorry, wrong thread.)


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.


What authority does the city government really have in a city that has been destroyed?

The tax base is gone. I assume they are operating on federal money.

It is no wonder the city authorities are acting hostile.

That attitude is really all they have to protect their turf.


Agreed. Their own police force is dismantled. They don't have anything left but bark and no bite. I would expect them to bark as loud as possible.



I hear you. I am very sympathetic to those guys. A lot of the locals are very frustrated with everything. I would be too. It's past anger, more like weariness.

I heard so many heart breaking stories form folks down there after awhile it's numbing. All you can say is your sorry for their loss and wish them well. Just listening is the best medicine sometimes. Everyone lost something.


I don't believe that rebuilding NOLA is a low priority for the USA. It has too much significance for this country for us to let it fall by the wayside. I think that the reason it might feel like it is a low priority to those of us on the outside is that reconstruction is not big, exciting news. Therefore, most news outlets are not going to give it too much attention. When that happens, the general public gets the impression that the government doesn't care. I know that it may not make much sense, but what can I say? Now, if some corruption in the rebuilding process comes to light, the media will pick it up faster than a poor man finding a $100 bill in the street.


Well, they certainly shouldn't rebuild New Orleans in the same spot. Maybe keep the French Quarter where it is as a tourist destination and move the rest of the city 20 miles inland or so up the river, to higher ground.

People who wish to rebuild in the same spot should fund it -- and the insurance -- themselves.

The question is kind of a false dichotomy though. Given money is fungible, you can compare any governmental expenditure program to New Orleans, and say, "Which do we care more about, farm subsidies (for example) or New Orleans?"


Sure, level New Orleans and it's port then watch all the bitching as gas goes to $10 a gallon. Not to mention all other goods from S. M. America that come through here............SHRUG!

Seriously, private property owners should be responsible for their own property. The problem is that many of them did not have insurance or were under-insured. Those that do have insurance have issues as they may want to rebuild but their neighbor, whom didn't have insurance, can't rebuild. No one wants to live next to a blighted house. We're back to the same problem that happens everywhere..............those that are responsible GET SCREWED.

I also believe that the FEDs should build the levees back and MUST make them higher and stronger. They need to be able to withstand a CAT 5 hurricane. There were apparently some mistakes made, intentional or not, when they built the current levees and thus lawsuits will come out. Many investigations are ongoing to find out wether the contractor or The Corp of Engineers are responsible for the grave mistakes that were made. Too bad they are immuned(protected) from Law suits

One other often overlooked problem is that our marshland is greatly shrinking. For every mile of marsh it breaks storm surge by a foot. We are losing miles upon miles every year. The everglades have reaped the benefits from Congressional spending but Louisiana's marshland which are probably at least as ecologically important are forgotten. The Corp of Engineers only now seem to be thinking of using the Mississippi River to replenish the bayous. IT'S ABOUT FREAKING TIME. Katrina devestated the Bayous much of which will never be replaced.

Lastly, Louisiana has too long gotten the short end of the stick on Oil Tax Revenues from offshore drilling. States without a shoreline are getting Oil Tax Revenues from Louisiana drilling. I'm told that if Louisiana got just 50% of the revenues generated within our shoreline that it would be billions of much needed revenue for Louisiana schools, infrastructure, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunatley this is a Congressional matter and too many congressman have pet projects that they want to fund with these revenues.

Save New Orleans!


There are other ports on the gulf coast that traffic could be diverted to if NO was closed. Also... Aren't the controls (levees, flood protection, etc?) on the MS River the cause of the lost bayous?


Interesting. Thanks for that. Nice to hear somebody whose been there and has some inside perspective


What you not understand is that the Port of NOLA is a gateway to ship traffic that needs to transport things further up river. Also, there is a pipeline off the coast of LA that allows ships to download crude to varoius plants accross the United States, other ports either do not have it or not as much volume as the Port of NOLA.

While the diversion of the river effects the inner-coastal bayous, it is the coastal errosion that is putting NO at risk. That's why money has needed to be spent to restore and sustain the LA coast and Barrier Islands. They acted as a natuaral "speed bump" to decrease the tidal surge created from large hurricanes. Now, almost all of those barrier islands are gone.


Looks like those levees had some serious issues:



The floodwall on the 17th Street Canal levee was destined to fail long before it reached its maximum design load of 14 feet of water because the Army Corps of Engineers underestimated the weak soil layers 10 to 25 feet below the levee, the state's forensic levee investigation team concluded in a report to be released this week.

That miscalculation was so obvious and fundamental, investigators said, they "could not fathom" how the design team of engineers from the corps, local firm Eustis Engineering and the national firm Modjeski and Masters could have missed what is being termed the costliest engineering mistake in American history. . . .

"It's simply beyond me," said Billy Prochaska, a consulting engineer in the forensic group known as Team Louisiana. "This wasn't a complicated problem. This is something the corps, Eustis, and Modjeski and Masters do all the time. Yet everyone missed it -- everyone from the local offices all the way up to Washington."