Recovery plan for New Orleans to be ratified

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

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January 27


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In a community congress in January, residents of the devastated city of New Orleans offered their support for a sweeping plan to rebuild the city, its districts and its neighborhoods. The “Unified New Orleans Plan” is a multi-faceted document that incorporates a number of different recovery planning efforts, including federal infrastructure plans and specific small-scale blueprints developed by individual neighborhoods.

Residents overwhelmingly approved the comprehensive recovery and rebuilding plan, which is expected to be reviewed and ratified by the city in February. The plan offers incentives for raising houses.

Concerns have been raised over whether some of the hard lessons taught by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been learnt. The Washington Post reports that some residents are beginning to rebuild their homes in the same vulnerable floodplains that in Fall 2005 were under 10 to 20 feet of water. Despite the threat, a surprising amount of the new development in New Orleans is being built without raised foundations.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin has been a proponent of allowing people to return to their old neighborhoods, even if they are particularly vulnerable. But as rebuilding continues, planning officials recognize that encouraging people to return to susceptible floodplains could pose another big problem down the road.

The Bush administration wants to dedicate 3.1 billion dollars to the repairs of flood defences.

According to a study by the Rand Corporation in three years the city will have a population of only 275,000 compared to 465,000 inhabitants before Hurricane Katrina.

The disaster also brings the unique opportunity for modernization. Ecological activist organizations have been writing green guidelines for New Orleans schools that the Louisiana Recovery Authority wants to incorporate into its plan. In American history, the challenge to rebuild vast swaths of a city is comparable to the great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Both projects were much further along in their recovery 18 months after the tragedy than New Orleans is today.

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