Thursday, September 01, 2005

Future of N'awlins: I will, of course, defer to our resident expert on NOLA, but in reading this other expert, my impression of the city's future is quite grim.

His take: the city, as we knew it, is gone. Most tellingly, NOLA is a city with minor industrial/commercial base, but a very large gambling/tourism/hospitality base. Meaning, the city is typically populated by a work force and the tourists said work force serves. Does a full-time population of 500,000 warrant a full-scale re-building? Moreover, given that it will be between 2-4 months before the city is even dried out, the absolute minimum for being able to host any significant degree of out-of-towners again would have be at least a year. First, you have to clean up. Then you have to make it safe. Then you have to re-do all the infrastructure and utilities. Then you have to re-build homes, apartments and hotels. Then, all the social services have to be re-implemented.

All this while the area is sucking state and federal money like there's no tomorrow. Said otherwise, there is no revenue being generated, from within, and without that revenue, besides general contractors, who will want to go back?

Restaurants, casinos, bars - none of them will be adequately supported by local population plus re-construction workforce. Certainly nothing like the pre-flood levels that business owners were used to.

This is not to pile on or somehow "blame" the city of New Orleans for its predicament, just that half of the allure of NOLA was its historical architecture and unique history. With all the demolition that will have to occur, one of two things happens: (1) the city is re-imagined from the ground up or (2) "Welcome to Disney NOLA!!"


enobarbus said...

A good insight, Razor. I was just today reconsidering my view. I declared the city lucky, because the storm surge didn't literally wash everything away, as it did in Mississippi. That said, the local citizenry seems prepared to finish the job by way of looting, arson, etc.

Great idea giving money to the Red Cross; not so great when the Red Cross relief crew is jacked at gunpoint, relief supplies stolen.

Note, too, the "blame Bush" mentality that tells us that the National Guard could be used in Louisiana, if Monkey Boy hadn't sent them all to Iraq. Never mind that these same wing-nuts would be the first shouting "Reichstag!" (or some other non sequitur) if Bush sent the troops into New Orleans.

Razor said...

The only "blame Bush" angle I've seen that might make some sense is whether money that would have otherwise gone to pumps and levees went to protecting the Super Dome from attack.

However, most "experts" seem to say that unless you built 75-foot high levees made from super-expensive, super-strong materials, nothing short of that probably could have stopped this result. Given that the odds of a Cat 4-5 hurricane hitting the city square-on are almost as thin as Mohammed Atta's cousin blowing up the Super Dome, I think you have a "damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't" scenario.

What is clear however, and this is not Bush's fault anymore than it is the head of FEMA's, or the governor's, is that the relief effort was way behind the eight ball from jump street. The fact that certain people could not adequately respond to an evacuation order (no car, no money) was not really thought through, it appears. Then, the response teams were positioned too far away, and the supplies were woefully short.

It just seems that FEMA was prepared more for the immediate hurricane, and not for the delayed flooding. Odd.

Flyer said...

Out with a cold yestrday, so I'm just coming around. Of course, I watched coverage of NO all day on the couch in various states of consciousness.

I hear more people blaming the Bush admin from the public rather than the media. The media hasn't figured out who to blame yet. I think Razor's right wrt the damned if you do... problem. This has been on the threat screen for many years and nobody figured out a way to prevent it. Sucks, but it's tough to blame it on any administration.

I had the same chilling thought yesterday regarding the sense of rebuilding. It's true that the city has become dependant on tourism for its economy. And that's probably how what they'll use to try to rebuild.

It's funny that you worried about NO turning into Disneyland because that's what some of us use to call the French Quarter. My friend would pick me up on a hot Saturday afternoon with a six pack of beer to go "drive around Disneyland and watch the freak show." Disney for adults. Buildings decorated with neon and cartoon strippers, people wearing either very little or the the most outlandish garb, playing dress up.

NOLA sold out to the Disney image a long time ago. MOst of the strip clubs on Bourbon were corporate owned, Harrahs built an enormous eyesore on Canal St. That convention center...well, I don't want to talk about it right now. I've heard people complain about how Vegas has become too overdone, too corporate, too family friendly. But they seem to be raking it in out in Sin City. Tradeoffs are a bitch Can NO rebuild on tourism alone. Probably. Will it lose something of its soul along the way. Yeah, but it was already losing it.