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Returning to Live in New Orleans

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“Will you return to the New Orleans area?” In a webpoll this is the question being asked of people who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The website of New Orleans’ channel 4 WWL-TV has been offering excellent local coverage of the disaster at www.wwltv.com. The response so far has been running about 75% in favor of returning, with the rest opposed or unsure. As discussed previously in Should New Orleans Be Rebuilt?, the city has inherent problems due to the fact that 80% of it lies below sea level in an area bordered by major bodies of water that are actually a few feet or more above sea level. The enormous cost of rebuilding New Orleans will fuel some debate as to what to actually do with the place. Should people again inhabit areas that are known to be flood and disaster prone? Most of the housing that was seriously submerged in the flooding will have to be demolished. Buildings in the higher parts of town, including the French Quarter and Central Business District, have fared somewhat better, and there is no doubt these areas will be quickly restored to their former status.

It’s quite interesting to read the comments of the individual citizens who were uprooted by the disaster. Here follows a selection of comments from WWL’s webpoll reflecting a cross-section of the sentiments being expressed. There is a strong tendency to want to return to the area that they called home, many sentimental feelings about New Orleans, but also plenty of negative comments and doubts about the future of the city.

    –I seriously doubt anything will change; this city has never been about change. Even my alcoholic father and prescription pill addicted mother-in-law fell right back into old habits in a new city after losing everything. People of New Orleans don’t want to change; they love their incompetence, laziness, and apathy as much as they love their music, food, and ghettos. In a city where the same song writes itself every night through its decimated street tops, skinny and hugely outdated interstate system, nasty little run down dumps called houses, busted and broken public schools attended and managed by criminals and imbeciles, ignorant and thieving politicians, 12-19 year old black males who regularly feel it necessary to kill one another to protect they’re “pride”, undercover racism which to the contrary is black on white (trust me I’m white and live in an all black neighborhood), deplorable public service system oozing with ignorance i.e. city hall, life draining humidity and energy robbing heat, COMPLETE lack of jobs and commerce, non-livable wages coupled with a high cost of living, pathetic city infrastructure, abundant $5.15 an hour jobs, health care system that leaves gunshot victims doubled over for hours in the waiting room….who would want to go back to that? The hell on earth I call home, the hell on earth I grew up in that raised me to maturity beyond my years and gave me the strength and street wisdom to survive any of the darkest places in this world will always call me back to the place I call home. I miss the unique architecture, I miss the food, I miss my black folk, I miss my culture, I miss my streets. Will I return to New Orleans?…my mind says I wont, my heart says I must.

    –I honestly don’t know. For one thing I look around and see all the destruction and I ask myself, “Do I want go through this again? Am I physically and emotional capable of doing this again?” It’s not a matter of will it happen again but WHEN will it happen again. I have stayed in 3 states since fleeing the storm and with what I have seen on the television (the raping, killing and looting)I have been ashamed to call New Orleans my home. I just want to scream out, “Not all New Orleanians are this way.”

    –It is my home. I don’t want to go anywhere else. But I have to make a living and have health insurance. I know I need to be patient, but I am muddled.

    –We’ve found better schools and higher paying jobs and the majority of our friends are not returning.

    –It’s our responsibility as New Orleanians to rebuild the city. If we leave it up to others it will be just a hollow and soulless version of what it was.

    –It’s home, and where we belong. Our family is from Lakeview and love St Dominic and our parish.

    –Of course I would return. And I encourage everyone to do the same. It is our home. It has given you Gumbo, Jazzfest, Mardi Gras, Second Lines, The French Quarters, Red Beans and Rice, The Essence Fest, Canal St., St. Charles Ave., Streetcars and countless attractions and good times. I know there were some low points in the city’s past, but, we should work as a city to fix those issues. We now have a chance to start on a clean slate. We can have a bigger and better New Orleans. However, it won’t be a reality if the people who make it what it is don’t return.

    –Yep! Already back on the WestBank!

    –If the criminals, drug addicts, and underclass come back, then I’ll stay away.
    I’m in DC right now. Yeah, it has it’s rough parts, but there’s enough land to keep the good people separated from the bad ones.

    –The people who say it’s crazy to move back to a place below sea level, a place where there is the threat of catastrophe, don’t you realize what a home means? When your entire family has lived somewhere for generations? People face the same risk of catastrophe, if not more, by living up and down the West Coast, in earthquake territory, yet we have no problem rebuilding again and again over the same faults. San Francisco and Los Angeles have both had their share of enormous destruction (San Francisco being wiped out in 1906) yet the city was rebuilt. Much of Hawaii is active volcano. New Orleans would’ve been safe, just like other cities around the world that are below sea level (Amsterdam, for example), if we had recieved the necessary funding to upkeep the levee system. President Bush cut flood funding in 2003. New Orleans is a poor city, it couldn’t afford these repairs on its own. But the people of New Orleans love their city. It is unlike any in the United States. It has a history
    unlike any other. It is the birthplace of jazz. It is the most European in all of America. I certainly understand why many of you don’t want to come back, and I believe that’s valid, out of fear, concern for one’s safety; but it’s an individual choice. New Orleans, however, must continue.

    –I will be returning to N.O., because my home was not totally destroyed and my daughter is 15. Being close to her friends and family is very important at this age. If not for her, I would relocate.

    –We lived in Lakeview, and with the exception of things like dishes and glassware, that the water can’t damage, we’ve probably lost everything. I count this as a “yes” vote since the Northshore is still “The New Orleans Area” in my opinion. I sincerely hope that New Orleans does rebuild, and does so in such a way that what happened with Katrina cannot repeat.

    –No, our Mother, New Orleans, The Queen City of The South, the source of our soul, the source of our heart and character, no, our Mother was killed. And I can not live in a graveyard. Her death was long in coming, but come it did at the hands of neglect, brought on by the waters she fought back so valiantly for so many years for our safety and enjoyment. But we didn’t care for Her the way she deserved, we partied and drank and wasted the money and the time and now she’s gone. March and play jazz for Her, but let Her rest in peace. Please be respectful when you visit the place of Her death.

    –we have prayed for years for a way out and this was it. Thank God

    –It is amazing (somewhat) how so many who are responding negatively to this re-building have no sense of history, geography or meteorology. I have lived in LA, 2 earthquakes–both “minor,” a 3+ and a 4+, lived in the upper midwest where a tornado destroyed a town 7 miles away and then, after rebuilding, was hit again 11 years later, 2 family friends parished in blizzard, lived SF, Boca Raton, Ft. Meyers… Please. It’s about human capability, not nature.

    –There is no other place like New Orleans. I live on the Westbank, but LA would not be the same without N.O.

    –I will only come back to sell or finish thing off. I am tired of evacuating. I no longer have family living there. It is too hot and you can’t do anything outside.

    –I would return because New Orleans is a wonderful city where I was born and raised. I know the city like no other. However, as soon as the media slows down with their coverage of how devastating the storm is. All these surrounding states will be kicking us out and sending us back home (WHERE I WANNA BE ANYWAY). They really don’t want us here. Some may even feel like we’re invading their space. I want to be somewhere where I feel free and not treated like a REFUGEE. I’m going home…………..

    –It is the only place I can truly call home.

    –Not at this time, maybe in a few years.
    I must return yearly for Jazz Fest!

    –Return to what? the toxic waste dump of the nation? People talking of fish fries and seafood…you eat that crap down there, you’ll be dead in weeks, I wouldn’t touch that seafood for at lease 5 years. Then again…night fishing would be easy with all the glowing fish.

    –Nahhhh…..Put a fence up and call it a prison. Let the looters have it. They should shoot them all.

    –Too much family history to be scared out by an act of god.

    –I cannot imagine ever living anywhere else….

About Frank Waldron

  • cooper brown

    does anyone have any apartments available in the jefferson/orleans parish area for a katrina victim? my email is cooperbrown272 at hotmail dot com, had to post it like that because we’re not allowed to post our email

  • Ken

    Residents want to return now to New Orleans! This may not be a good choice at this time. The primary services are still lacking and hospitals can only provide emergency care only.
    The other factor to consider is hurricane Rita. The projected path is really uncertain. I think it would be good planning to wait until the hurricane season is ended at the end of November.

  • If the criminals, drug addicts, and underclass come back, then I’ll stay away.
    I’m in DC right now. Yeah, it has it’s rough parts, but there’s enough land to keep the good people separated from the bad ones.

    I find the above comment a little disturbing for its mention of the ‘underclass.’ Are the poor so very frightening? Are they frightening because they are poor, or because we have made them desparate?