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!!"