The big difficult
New Orleans, geographers say, has a great situation but no site. It is located right by the mouth of the Mississippi River, the nation's biggest waterway, and right by the center of the country's biggest petrochemical complex -- thousands of oil and gas platforms and scores of refineries and chemical plants.

There's an obvious economic and political need for a city there, except nature didn't give us any place to put it.

Now New Orleans has been largely wrecked by a hurricane, though most of the damage, the Army of Corps of Engineers now concedes, was due to its own mistakes -- the levees weren't overwhelmed by Katrina, but simply collapsed before a storm of a strength they were supposed to be able to withstand.

How can we rebuild this impossible but necessary city faster and smarter? Who should take up the financial burden? What lessons can we learn so that the nation and the region doesn't have to go through this again? --Charles C. Mann

(Read an excerpt from "The long, strange resurrection of New Orleans.")
Posted by Deirdre Terry 2:25 PM 83 Comments comment | Add a Comment

The Bush Administration does not have a photo opp in NOLA at this time. If it was located in Iraq, the story would be different and they would have a blank check. An American tragedy and national disgrace to forget our own.
Posted By Mike, Quincy,MA : 10:11 AM  

I think the US government has done more than enough for the residents of New Orleans. It is high time the residents do something else besides complain.
Posted By Todd Fienstein, Atlanta, GA : 10:14 AM  

The government has already done too much. If the incompetents at the locallevel can't fix their land use issues, then the NOLA project should be abandoned.
Posted By Tom Clarke, Richland MI : 10:24 AM  

Too much has been spent already!
Forget the levees, let the water find its own level and rebuild from there for commercial use only, paid for by whoever, other than the Taxpayer.
Posted By Joe Horne, Gray, Tn. : 10:26 AM  

Unfortunately, and although I love New Orleans, it is without a doubt a complete waste of US tax payers' time, energy and money to try and rebuild a city, that, geologically speaking, is definitively and irrefutably destined to be routintely submerged under water. New Orleans residents should understand this FACT, and move elsewhere, and stop complaining that the government isn't doing enough. We all make choices about where we live. Rebuilding the levees is like trying to keep a sand castle standing on the beach in between tides. FACT.
Posted By EBM in Colorado : 10:33 AM  

Government is not the answer. The state and local authorities must lead the effort for a solution and consider abondanding some of the land use.
Posted By Don Whipple, Kansas : 10:36 AM  

Get everybody out and leave it.
Posted By Joe Almeida, Fall River Ma : 10:36 AM  

Well - interested problem for the left. Do you tear down the levees and allow the Mississippi to return to the process of depositing slit and possibly loose NO in the process?

My bet is that somebody will get outraged, blame Bush, demand money and we will spend billions up billions to fix a problem that isn't a problem.

The french selected the site that is now NO - despite yellow fever swamps, constant flooding an bad water.

The correct then to do would be let NO go back to the swamps and move on. But then the cultural heritage folks will be outraged.

So - as always in the past - mankinds efforts to modify nature go bad - and rather than recognize we screwed up we will spend even more to create unforseen consequences that will take more money in the future.

Our arrogance has no end.
Posted By Jim Pittsburgh, PA : 10:38 AM  

The loss of land in Lousianna is due mostly to the dams up river, trapping sediment which used to flow freely to the sea. Benefits include navigable rivers and a delay (at present time about 50 years late)in recurring earthquakes in the New Madrid fault area. The detriments include the loss of land in the costal areas of Louisanna.
Posted By Tony Ingram, Caracas, Venezuela : 10:38 AM  

How much can the government be expected to do? This city was built below sea-level in a hurricane prone area! This was going to happen, the question was not 'if' but 'when'.
Posted By Matt Anderson, Atlanta, GA : 10:43 AM  

This may sound alittle odd, but since future hurricanes are imminent and could cause immeasurable damage, perhaps the entire reconstruction zone should either be built well above sea level, or moved further inland to safer higher ground. The existing area should be converted to a national wildlife preserve or park. This of course will not speed up the process, but may be the best long term solution.
Posted By Bill Foote, NY, New York : 10:52 AM  

The problem with rebuilding on the same area is one of fighting against natural forces. Nature always wins. The ground will continue to sink further below sea level. Just throwing government resources at reconstructing on the same land space, will ultimately fail.
Posted By Dennis Ortenburg, Detroit, MI : 11:09 AM  

Building that city below sea level was a mistake. Especially when it located within a stone's throw of the sea. Trying to maintain N.O. above water will be a continual maintenance issue.
At the very least what should be done is that the lowest areas should be turned into parks and no buildings allowed.
Here is one way to fix something that should have never been implemented. "Federally Funded Flood Insurance. Let the insurance companies set the rates and see who builds there.
Posted By Larry. Kerrville, TX : 11:10 AM  

Just abandon the city and destroy it. The people understand that they can't live in that city anymore. Better build other area.
Posted By Corben Dallas, Irving, Texas : 11:11 AM  

While I love NO, I do believe we should give it back as a wildlife preserve, the higher grounds could sustain hotels and casinos, but the rest should go back. With the dams upstream preventing the buildup of sediment and the threat of sinking lands, hurricaines, it will be a constanct drain on taxpapers to do anything less than let it go back to nature. And the money saved in rebuilding could better be used in education, health care, relocation costs, retraining costs, etc. to other cities in Louisiana or surrounding areas for the NO people to redevelop their lives and grow tourism in towns such as Baton Rouge, etc. There is more we can do for NO people by not rebuilding NO.
Posted By Kay, Houston, TX : 11:12 AM  

New Orleans killed itself with years of political corruption and dirty affairs. We have only ourselves to blame for allowing the "good ole ways" to go one. To save the city you must first save the people from themselves and their politicians. Ignorance isn't bliss anymore.
Posted By Al W., New Orleans, La. : 11:16 AM  

They should abandon Neww Orleans and allow it to sink peacefully back into the sawmp.
Posted By R. Zehn, Oregon : 11:17 AM  

Since homo sapiens crossed the Bering Straits several millennia ago the oceans have risen 300 feet. With global warming the seas will continue to rise as has been documented by scientists monitoring the loss of glacial and other snow masses around the world. If anything, the federal government and insurers should discourage the continued development and reconstruction of coastal regions subject to destruction by natural environmental events. The good residents of these coastal regions need to be strongly advised it is their responsibility to, �move to where the land is�. Provide assistance for relocation where necessary, but not one penny for the preservation of real estate presently 12 feet below sea level, and still sinking.
Posted By Larry Friel, Mesa, Arizona : 11:22 AM  

At some point the Government must prioritize where to invest our money. I think New Orleans is a lost cause. The city will be south of the Coast line by 2090. Why invest the money in a city that expects handouts and refuses to help themselves. Look at Mississippi, they have rebuilt or rebuilding an not wining like the citizens or shall I say wards of new orleans.
Posted By Victor Micheal, Louisville. KY : 11:24 AM  

Glad to hear the Louisiana government is finally taking a strong stand to get money for this project to protect and re-build the wetlands. In today's dollars, $14 billion is not much at all for the benefit it will bring. I think they should try to get the whole thing at once, rather than just the $1.7 billion down payment.
Posted By Lisa, Keller, Texas : 11:49 AM  

The federal government should be used as a backup resource. Local and state governements should hve primary responsibility.

So what do you expect when you build a city in an area below sea level next to the ocean. If the environmentalists are right and sea levels rise, this problem is only going to get worse.

This is not a left or right issue.
Posted By Kevin, Nashville TN : 12:02 PM  

New Orleans is a vital city, not only to the cultural landscape of America, but for incredible resources we have provided to the rest of the nation for over 50 years - most notably oil and gas. I find it quite sad that many of the comments coming from the rest of the nation assert that we forget the cultural jewel that is New Orleans. Instead, New Orleans should be hailed as an American wonder, where many of the buildings and traditions we hold dear are older than many of the states throughout the nation! Further, as a native and resident of New Orleans, I have heard no one demanding a "hand out" from the federal government. Instead, before and since Katrina, we have simply been asking the federal government to supply us with the same oil royalties they do with other states, including New Mexico, Texas, and Alaska. We do not want a hand out, just want equal treatment. No one questioned rebuilding the financial district of New York after 9/11, wondering whether a terrorist attack may occur again. New Orleans can be effectively protected against future flooding with the CORRECT construction of levees and the REBUILDING of our wetlands that have been shredded from years of abuse by the oil companies, which have so willingly supplied the rest of the nation with energy. What people tend to forget is the flooding last September was not due to Katrina, but due to the failure of effectively constructed levees. To leave New Orleans to the swamp and wildlife would be a disgrace to the nation and the future of America.
Posted By Inga, New Orleans, LA : 12:07 PM  

How many will die next time?

New Orleans needs to face the facts, the state of Lousiana needs to face the facts, and the Federal government needs to face the facts... good public policy would be to rebuild elsewhere, to invest in viable land and a viable city. As it is NO is like junkie expecting that they'll be able to find another good hit when all that's on the street are bad hits. Sending them more money is wrong.
Posted By Steve Miller, Unity, ME : 12:13 PM  

Fix the levee problem(s) it should have been done years ago
Posted By Steve Wazleski, Greenlee, CO : 12:16 PM  

New Orleans offers the U.S. an experience which will be repeated in other coastal areas of the country, especially on the Gulf and in the hurricane-prone southeast. We should try to hear the message so that our society's future does not get more heavily mortgaged than it is already. The government (i.e. taxpayers and general citizenry) can only offer bandaids, not restitution, for poor development and location decisions. Responsibility must be assigned to those making the choices. If not, we'll just perpetuate poor decision-making.
Posted By Ron Griffin, College Station, TX : 12:18 PM  

I do understand that the economy associated with the Mississippi River and the oil refineries in the New Orleans area is critical to the entire country. The Government should provide aid to support those industries, but I do not believe that we as tax payers should help recontruct areas of the city that are below sea level. It seems like a big waste of money. The folks there should relocate to safer ground.
Posted By Dick, Forest, Va. : 12:34 PM  

The tax payers have spent enough on New Orleans. There are many areas of the country that need funding, moreso then New Orleans. New Orleans is a perfect example of why socialism does not work. The people are do noting to help themselves. other then wait for hand outs from the Gov
Posted By Rick, Somers Point , NJ : 12:36 PM  

Unless the wetlands are rebuilt New Orleans is doomed.

Can they be rebuilt? Yes. The demonstration project done several years ago proved it can be done, but the oil & shipping industries have blocked further redevelopment of the wetlands.
Posted By James Klimaski, Silver Spring, MD : 12:38 PM  

It's nice to see the people who would simply abandon New Orleans and let it sink back to the swamp. That completely ignores the greater issue of coastal errosion. I was born and raised 15 miles from the French Quarter and to see the lack of understanding by others is quite frightening. Kevin from Nashville is absloutely right, the federal government should be a last resort back up, not the primary care giver. I remember a news story from about 15 years ago in which researchers at a university, I think Tulane, had developed these cone like structures for rebuilding coast line under attack from erosion. These were never widely adopted and a viable means of salvation is ignored. I would like to mention that Louisiana has a Cristmas Tree recycle program. This program takes Christma Trees and bundles them together to be used in the wetlands for protection. In the places this is doen, it works. This program needs to be expanded on a massive scale. This could be one way to save the wetlands. It's more than New Orleans, it's more than Louisiana. Once the wetlands are gone (40% of the country's wetlands), the entire cosystem will change and places further inland will become more vunerable to storms.
Posted By James, Avondale, La. : 12:45 PM  

First of all, I love NOLA. But the city is below sea level. And since we will always have hurricane risk, Katrina will be repeated. Additionally, Bin Ladin or any other fool could kill tens of thousands of people with a briefcase full of dynamite along one of the canals or levees, with NO WARNING AT ALL. It is a complete disservice to citizens to allow them to live in such a dangerous situation that is impossible to defend & the treasure of the country cannot be poured into such impossible tasks.
Posted By Mark, McAllen, TX : 1:06 PM  

I think every garbage truck in the nation should dump their trash in NO for the next 6 months. Then, cover with 6-8 feet of topsoil, and bingo, no more elevation problem.
Posted By Tom, Green Bay, WI : 1:09 PM  

The Government has done more than enough. Let's stop wasting money. New Orleans was terminally ill before Katrina.
Posted By PS Baton Rouge, LA : 1:20 PM  

Offshore oil tax revenues should be going to the state and should be dedicated in part to restoring the wetlands. Louisiana has been absent it's share of oil revenue for many decades. What an appropriate time and purpose for the money.
Posted By Jonas, Pittsburgh PA : 1:42 PM  

I have to admit, being a native of the area, I absolutely hate what has happened to the New Orleans area with the storm. But, unfortunately I do realize the facts that nature will eventually take the area back. If the locals do not realize this and do not plan accordingly, they are digging their own graves. And also proving to the rest of the country (which seems to already be decided based on the majority of these responses) that they are not worth helping at all.

The one thing I ask people to think about, no matter where they live, is what would you think if this happened to your town? How would you like to see the government and most of the country turn a blind eye to your plight and to call you silly for wanting to live in a place you called home your entire life? Facts are facts, but don't scoff those who have the strength of will to try to rebuild their homes. I'm afraid it will be a pretty sad day when America completes it transformation into a completely selfish and spineless country.
Posted By Dave Drane, Jackson MS : 1:44 PM  

Louisiana is a pit of corruption...always has been. Not one more federal dime should be spent there. They are moochers of the first order and their game of sucking as money as possible from the American taxpayer must be stopped.
Posted By Carole, Dallas, TX : 1:53 PM  

Let's be candid, rebuilding New Orleans as it was makes ZERO sense. The wetlands that protect N.O. are being eradicated, the city is below sea level, and is still protected at most by a cat. 3 rated levee system.
Even before this N.O. had a veneer of polish and excitement, covering crime, poor infrastructure, and despair.
Put more money into a community above sea level, either the burbs, or Baton Rouge, or anywhere, but don't throw good money after bad.
Plus, another hurricane, which with global warming is a matter of when, not it, would wipe out whatever rebuilding was put in place.
Just doesn't make sense.
Posted By Robert, Wilmington, NC : 2:15 PM  

While I do see big issues with the NO reconstruction and getting people to move back there I still have to say that we need to reconstruct the area. It isn't just a city of people but businesses like oil and a major port. It bring in money that makes our US economy grow. Now, some people may say move the port to a safer place. At some point no place is safe along the coast or even inland a hundred miles. Nature will hit them and then we have to do reconstruction there as well. Maybe these same people who say forget NO should look at their own backyards and ask what happens to them if they live in a city hit by a storm, earth quake, tornado or ice storm. Maybe we should move it all to a place that doesn't get impacted by the weather or other beast mother nature created. But if you live in an areas that has ben hit (like maybe earthquakes in LA, flooding in New Jersey or the yearly wild fires in the western US) then you should be keeping an eye out for that perfect place. If you find that please let me know. I may want to buy some land there!
Posted By Mark Doyle, Eagle Idaho : 2:26 PM  

We're fighting Mother Nature in N.O. We should let nature do it's thing and move the city inland. But then Americans are too stupid to do that.
Posted By Bill, Jacksonville, FL : 2:45 PM  

Can our government ever do enough for some people? Never what can I do but what will the government do and why are they not doing more! I'm tired of it!
Posted By Tom Mitchell, Greenville, SC : 2:49 PM  

Have to agree with many of the other posts. Nobody sees the sense of pouring money into a city that is sinking further below sea level.
Posted By Mike, Boston,mass : 3:43 PM  

Well, one idea is to stop fighting Mother Nature and Old Man River. The Corps of Engineers has spent decades and billions prevented the river from switching its main channel to theat of the Atchafalaya. But when that happens -- as it will someday -- New Orleans will be much more protected from flooding because it will literally be a backwater. Loss of shipping-relative revenue would be a problem, but lower reconstruction costs would more than make up for it. Plus, we wouldn't have to spend all that $14 billion "reconstructing" what would just be another patch.
Posted By Alan Tobey, Berkeley CA : 4:07 PM  

Yes, let's bury New Orleans. Can we allow such places who's infrastructure has failed it to exist? Of course not. San Francisco will eventually tumble to the ground so let's line up the dump trucks and prepare to haul the place away, never to rebuild. Miami? Evacuate yesterday! The city has been lucky so far, hurricane-target that it is. Let's be pro-active and give it back to the alligators, or 'nature' as it were. The Northeast and upper Midwest are frankly too cold for any sane person to live in. Let's move them all to sunny San Diego. Sorry, San Diego!

When your city has a natural or man-made disaster, you should hope that the rest of the country doesn't react like most on this board have.
Posted By Bill - Lafayette, Louisiana : 4:24 PM  

It is unlikely that NOLA will ever be the same as it was pre-Katrina and prehaps that is not all that bad given the terrible disparity between the rich and the poor. FedGov alone can't bring NOLA to its feet unless the locals, city and state care enough to re-build and take the initiative.
Posted By Chuck Pooler, Tampa, FL : 4:34 PM  

NO is a doomed city, the geological tide is rising high and no ammount of money thrown away will save it. i don't want one penny of my taxes going there. lets make it a national wildlife perserve.
Posted By max prague ,fairview nc : 4:45 PM  

It's a doomed battle trying to save sinking land made of silt, already below sea level, in an age of global warming. Take the billions and rebuild - 100 miles inland! Put nothing back in New Orleans except docks, oil platforms, and boats.
Posted By Jeff, Knoxville TN : 4:51 PM  

Let's see now...Hmmm....We spend 100 billion a year in Iraq. And for 3 years worth of the "War on Terror" we have....What do we have to show for it ? At least spending the money on New Orleans is spending the money on AMERICANS.
Posted By Tim, Tarpon Springs, Fl. : 5:15 PM  

The City and Parish need to pass laws that require homeowners to either show signs of cleanup/house replacement or sign waivers to have the area totally cleared by the contractors who are working for the federal government. It's time for the owners to put up or concede. The area must be cleaned.
Posted By Laura, Mayfield, KY : 5:17 PM  

All you "outsiders" seem to forget you're sucking us dry of our natural resources, oil, cotton, seafood, etc. at an alarming rate. Our depleting wetlands deserve national attention, regardless of Hurricane Katrina. And remember, New Orleans survived H.K. We did not survive the break in the levees, which were built by the U.S....let me type it again U.S... Army Corps of Engineers. We were told they would sustain Cat 3 and that's what H.K. was when it hit us. Well, they didn't and I am, and other taxpayers should be, OUTRAGED our taxes were used so poorly, causing catastrophic consequences.
Posted By Theresa, New Orleans, LA : 5:39 PM  

I am all for investing money wisely. Pooring money into Iraq or New Orleans seems a bit foolish. Both are destined to fail in the long run. Let's rebuild the city at another location preferably ABOVE sealevel.
Posted By Mike S., Durham, NC : 6:13 PM  

I vote for a new "Atlantis"! Ditch the place, we already have enough problems for the U.S. economy
Posted By (R), Portland Oregon : 6:26 PM  

If the levees failed the first time why are we wasting money to rebuild them almost exactly as they were before they failed. Maybe we should look into a new levee system that works yet is cheap enough for the people of New Orleans to afford. The U.S. government has spend enough money to fix nothing and maybe New Orleans own people could help build it since the Army Corp. seems incapable of doing so.
Posted By Isaac Frazier, Fort Wayne Indiana : 6:27 PM  

It�s shear folly - translated, �stupidity� - to attempt rebuilding New Orleans in its present/original location. If taxpayer resources are to be used for any rebuilding at all, it must be relocated, up-river, well above sea level. It defies nature, as well as common sense, to continue sinking huge amounts of the people�s resources into what nature intends to be, and will eventually reclaim as, a swamp! It�s fine for private parties to sink their private resources into swamps if they so choose; but DO NOT continue to ask the nation to pour endless quantities of the people's resources into this bottomless pit. Katrina merely focused our attention on the fact that it's long past time to vacate a part of our planet which was never intended for human habitation in the first place.
Posted By A. Ward, Kirkland, WA : 6:38 PM  

Abandon New Orleans because of the risk of flooding? If everyone truly believes this is the answer then let's be even-handed with this logic.

Should we also uproot everyone in Los Angeles and similar areas because the "big one" will eventually hit and leave even more devastation than Katrina? Should we abandon most of the U.S. coast and areas along all rivers?

The responses I've read would make you believe New Orleans gets hit frequently by devastating storms. I've lived 39 years in the New Orleans area and this is the first time in my lifetime that anything like this has happened. Hurricane Betsy in 1965 was the last instance of a major storm hitting New Orleans and the city was spared. The frequency and risk of devastation isn't as great as portrayed.

It is true that something similar can (and will) happen again. But, why stop at New Orleans? Let's ask everyone in Los Angeles and areas with similar risks to leave their homes as well. Should we wait until after the disaster?

Does everyone really believe that the "big one" will never hit Los Angeles? That will happen with the same certainty that another major storm will cause New Orleans to suffer.

Everyone that speaks with such a knee-jerk reaction must realize the reality. Where would everyone go? Ask yourself how you'd manage if asked to leave your home and the place of your childhood. Could you afford such a move? Perhaps you're established in your job and have difficulty in finding another that could provide as well for your family. If you took a minute and put yourself in that situation you might realize things aren't that simple.

We do have the ability and finances to protect the city. Do we have the will? This city is more vital than anyone is willing to realize. Oil production, sugar, a critical port, refining capacity, and providing an abundance of necessary chemical products.

Not rebuilding will cost this nation more than most realize.

I'm extremely saddened by my country's heartless attitude. Perhaps this attitude was born from the pathetic images on TV immediately following the storm. Remember, those images were not representative of the area. The true heart of New Orleans was not put on TV. Most of the true New Orleanians were hundreds of miles away in hotel rooms huddled around TV's with fear and anguish.
Posted By John New Orleans, LA : 9:34 PM  

Well, my tax dollars went towards the Big Dig and that was BEFORE someone got killed. I dare say that the country's money would be much better spent protecting the Big Easy.
Posted By Jason Mazzotta Somerville, MA : 2:19 AM  

Katrina was such a tragedy. The next biggest tragedy is that the New Orleans residents are going to have this happen again. Lets be smart here and not live below the ocean. I am sick of paying taxes for others' stupidity!
Posted By Sam, Phoenix AZ : 11:58 AM  

People who continue to live in areas of known high risk to natural disasters should not receive a disproportionate amount of public funding to solve their problems. They should move to higher ground. This goes for anyone in the path of a hurricanes and flood zones. Government relocation of the people would be cheaper, safer and more productive.
Posted By SW, Raleigh, NC : 12:54 PM  

You build and live where hurricanes are known to hit every year, and you want money from me and mine to help rebuild? I don't think so. Global warming caused by humans is creating these stronger forces of nature... yea, yea , yea it's not a fact as of yet, whatever. We must reap what we sow. Instead of rebuiding that area lets put that money into finding more Earth friendly energy sources.
Posted By Robert, Denver, Colorado. : 7:22 PM  

I invite all of those that thinks New Orleans doesn't need any more help or any more money to come on down here and look first hand at the scale of the devastation...most people change their opinions.

Other people in the world have learned to live with the sea and their government has not abandoned them (see The Netherlands). Measures can be taken to make New Orleans safe from the sea.

People everywhere live with the threat of natural disaster -- hurricanes in the south, earthquakes in the west, blizzards and tornadoes in the midwest. Maybe we should move them as well.

Louisiana and New Orleans is vital to this country (we ought to shut down our oil pipelines and show you). We spend billions and billions in Iraq, but we aren't good enough? So disappointing to see so many ready to turn their backs on us.
Posted By Jason Sheridan, New Orleans, LA : 8:55 PM  

with the money from gambling taxes,the state is getting,it shoulden't need fed.money.i'm suprised the feds.didn't ask the la. gov. what they were doing with all that money.
Posted By russell boudreaux-morgan-city ;louisiana : 4:13 AM  

The people of New Orleans need to take responsibility for their own city. They need self-reliance, and less finger-pointing toward everyone else. The biggest failures were their own city government and levee district corruption for generations, not the federal government.
Posted By Michael Connellan, CA : 4:26 AM  

This whole idea of rebuilding a city that should have never been built there in the first place makes no sense at all. And why is it the Federal Governments responsibility to rebuild N.O.?
Posted By Larry Guzik, Kerrville, TX : 7:16 AM  

1. Dig a deep, wide trench along the entire Mexican Boarder.
2. Fill it with water, (pumped from NO).
3. Use the soil to raise up the land in NO.
4. Harvest the allegators in Florida and put them in the trench.

Several problems solved. What is the next question.
Posted By Chris, Lexington, KY : 7:37 AM  

New Orleans?? What part of Texas is that??
Posted By Big Jim Dallas Texas : 7:49 AM  

What a well-researched and well-written article! You have done an excellent job describing the complex situation that exists in America's most improbable and complex city.

The comments on this story, however, display a shocking lack of understanding of what New Orleans and SE Louisiana means to the rest of the US, economically, strategically, culturally and historically. To comment without knowing the history of the federalization of the levee system in Louisiana and Mississippi, how that continues to impact the most productive wetlands in S Louisiana, that these distressed wetlands still produce 40 % of the seafood in the US underlines what the real problem is. To comment without knowing that Louisiana produces and refines over 20 % of the oil and gas in the US and this infrastructure, while never receiving the same depletion royalties as internal states pumping oil, makes these comments even more irrelevant. Louisiana could have rebuilt New Orleans 12 times over and could have been a model of environmental stewardship with these deserved royalties rather than a landscape on life-support, dependent on the crumbs it received over the years from the US government to secure itself.

The real tragedy here, aside from the flooding that never should have taken place, is the growing deliberate ignorance of the American people and their unwillingness to try to grasp complex issues. Why do Europeans and most of the rest of the world mistrust us so much? Because they see us behaving in the world as large children, making dumb statements and actions without trying to understand and respect different cultures. Americans want to have influence in the world without knowing anything about the world. And part of that �other world� is New Orleans.

If you want to flush SE Louisiana down the toilet, are you also ready to buyout the 450,000 who live in Jefferson Parish? When the Seventeenth Street broke on the Orleans side, Jefferson was largely saved. But they continue to live in a similarly perilous situation as Orleans Parish. Should they run away, too, leaving the homes? How could they all afford that? Before you made your comments, did you think about that or do you even know about that?

Katrina is a Rorschach test for America. Will we embrace complexity or continue to take the low road to over-simplicity and convenience? Will we chose to speak ideologically about issues, rather than pragmatically and with a deep understanding of history and culture. Will we choose mysticism over science? Continue to react rather than act pre-emptily and make proactive decisions about our future? Shall we wall off S Louisiana like a Chernobyl? Continue to dump the top soil of over 30 states off the Continental shelf rather than using it to replenish the most productive wetlands in North America?

Would France sacrifice Paris because it is corrupt? Would Italy destroy Rome because it is dirty? Would the Netherlands blow up their dykes because parts are 22 feet below sea level?

John Adams was so right about democracy: one of his biggest fears was an uninformed electorate making decisions.

Welcome to America in the 21st Century.
Posted By Bill Roussarie Marietta GA : 8:56 AM  

I agree with Mike from Quincy, Ma. If this had been Iraq or even Afghanistan, the Bush admin. would have opened the country's pockets wide and poured out money. Since this is a city whose population is made up of predominately lower-income persons, white and black, the president and the government have no interest in helping them. It's embarrassing.
Posted By Tonya, Raleigh, NC : 8:34 AM  

Simply put... don't make the same mistake twice !

We should not rebuild in ANY flood zone, not just NO, but anywhere in the country. I'm tired tax dollars being spent to bail out idiots who build where they should not. Anyone that builds in a flood zone should have to bare 100% of the burden themselves. And shame on them for making the same mistake twice.
Posted By Ben, Gorham Maine : 9:00 AM  

Let's get one thing straight, not everyone in New Orleans is not looking for a handout (I know I'm not). What Americans need to realize is that this is another wake up call for our country. 9/11 was the first and we all quickly forgot the pain and suffering of others. We are selfish, we want everyone to do things for themselves but don't want to do it for ourselves.
That's pittiful!
I am sick and tired of people saying that enough has been done by the government for New Orleans - get off your seat and come down here and see what they've done. Drive off the I-10 into the neighborhoods that got 10+ feet of water - thanks to the GOVERNMENT and the CORPS OF ENGINEERS! See where we are now and it's not because we don't want to move on. Don't go to the French Quarter and tell me everything looks good - do a little research and learn that the French Quarter didn't have water in 95% of it.
Read the Fortune article, take notice "New Orleans' two ports are, by tonnage, the nation's biggest. They need to be - the region handles a third of the nation's seafood and more than a quarter of its oil and natural gas.
Some 4,000 oil and natural-gas platforms, linked by 33,000 miles of pipeline, spread out along the Louisiana coast. Among the facilities are the four largest refineries in the Western Hemisphere. Southern Louisiana is easily as important to the nation's energy supply as the Persian Gulf." Don't sit there and complain that your tax dollars shouldn't rebuild a city when in the same breath you are complaining about high gas prices - I would think you are contradicting yourself!
Posted By Gretchen Schneider, New Orleans LA : 10:04 AM  

Yes the government was slow to react, with La and New orleans being the worst, but the handout generation is mostly to blame. There is no sense of responsiblilty by some people and they make the most noise. I thnk there is no way to make the handout people happy.
Posted By Carlos, Kenner, La. : 10:39 AM  

The problems with rebuilding New Orleans predate Katrina. Local politics, low literacy rates, and of course all the building below sea level are not the federal government's fault. Reconstructing New orleans the way it was before Katrina is not a rejuvenation at all.
Posted By Jeff Bibler, Houston, TX : 11:02 AM  

For all of you heartless and arrogant Americans who think we should let one of the greatest American cities and my beloved hometown die, there is another solution. We should tax every ounce of oil that passes through our oil infrastructure entrenched in the Louisiana marsh. Thirty percent of gas supplied to the nation comes from locals working on the oil rigs and refineries. We should tax all the seafood exported from our waters. We have worked our waterways to become the leading seafood industry in the country. Any ships using our ports while heading up the Mississippi River should be taxed. We are the gateway to the Mississippi River and have one of the top ports in the country. If we could tax our cultural contributions to this country we would be the richest city in this country. New Orleans and the State of Louisiana will overcome the immense adversity we are faced with because we are hard working people who cherish our way of life.If it takes the rest of my life to restore this precious gem so be it. I personally never ever want to say I am from somewhere else.
Posted By Louie Bonnecarre, New Orleans La. : 11:04 AM  

Before the storm, there was a story on nightly news how Congress had relagated all of the Corp of Engineers dredges to being tied up at the dock with full crews so as to not interfere with private concerns who sought lucrative contracts to dredge the navigable waterways. Why not put these dredges to work rebuilding the barrier islands that protect the wetlands and the coast. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the responsibility of government to help people rebuild their homes, if we lose these wetlands we will lose the breeding grounds for an important source of seafood that supplies this country. As a resident, I believe a large portion of the land will become indefensible but it does not matter what government says or does about rebuilding - the final say will be the cost of insurance and that is finally making people realize they cannot afford to live there.
Posted By Walter Adams, Metaire, LA : 11:11 AM  

As a native Louisianian, the answer is, yes, the federal taxpayer has done enough for New Orleans.
Posted By steve Hotho, hot springs, ar : 11:24 AM  

New Orleans is the best, there is nowhere else in the US I would choose to live. Especially after reading so many ignorant comments from residents across the US. I would not like to have many of you as neighbors!

In the meantime, I do what I can, vote when I can and squeal with joy when I hear of more money being alloted for wetland restoration and metro rehabilitation. The gulf and New Orleans area will be better than ever eventually, and never a day spent bored or uninspired living in a hellish monotony.

Thanks for all of our help, especially from the unwilling: sweat, taxes and both.
Posted By Noelle, New Orleans, LA : 2:53 PM  

As a native New Orleanian, I am shocked at these responses. If this is truly the general feeling among Americans, just cut us loose. We have the largest port system in the world, and practically enough oil to join OPEC. Just don't hold us down with your federal taxes and then let us slip off into the Gulf of Mexico. There are solutions to this problem.
Posted By John, New Orleans, La. : 1:15 AM  

Wow. I can't believe so many fellow Americans feel this way about a historic, national city. This reads like lots of uninformed, knee-jerk responses. First Katrina, now the American public. Et tu Brute?
Posted By George, Rockwall, TX : 10:53 AM  

First of all, everyone who says we should not rebuild New Orleans needs to look at where they themselves live, and ask if something like this, whether water-related or not, could happen to them. Florida, you'll be under water one day too. NYC and other East Coast towns, you're coast is next on the hurricane radar. Just this spring, Philadelphians along rivers know all too well what it is like to be in your house and have it break free of its foundations, some houses which dropped in their entireties into a giant waterhole, swallowing people in an instant. I know the prospect of something like Katrina happening to you, personally, is scary. But we in New Orleans have lived through it � it happened to us � and despite your uninformed opinions, we are rebuilding our homes and our city. We realize that the only help we can count on is our neighbors and many generous organizations and volunteers who have inundated our city. We are so grateful for all the people who know what compassion and empathy are, and how needed these gifts are to us. If you live here, you know all too well the injustices of its people, before and after the storm. We are confronting problems that needed to be confronted long ago. We are not blind to our faults. But my point is, don't be so quick to judge or give up on New Orleans. I wish it were not true, that nothing bad would ever happen to anyone, and certainly not to those of you who condemn us for loving this place, which by the way is one of the oldest cities in the United States. I only hope, my fellow dear citizens of this country � yes, we pay our taxes too, for when the inevitable happens elsewhere in this country � I only hope you never have to experience the pain we have experienced. Forced diaspora, loss of friends and family, constant anxiety and a pervasive sadness present in all our constitutions. But the beautiful thing about New Orleans, and this may be the reason our city was chosen for this first grandscale natural catastrophe, is that the people of this place are resilient, determined, funny, strong and steadfast as any human can be. Don't blame us for what happened. And don't speak about things wherefrom you know nothing. May this never, never happen to you. And this, as opposed to all the cursings apathetic, unthoughtful people have posted on here, is a real prayer and blessing. Have you looked around at the rest of the world and what is going on? How can you not ask why it is our government spends billions of dollars blowing up cities abroad and then spends billions more just to build them up in a "democratic" manner? Our government won't even rebuild the city its faulty levees destroyed. And if you think I am complaining, reassess where you live and consider deeply where you live. Unexpected and terrible, as well as wondrous and good, things happen everywhere. The only thing we can do is to help each other pick up the pieces, pick up a hammer, pick up the down-trodden spirits when bad things change our lives forever. We don't need your opinions or judgments. We know what it is to love a place so much that we have every bit of faith we need to rebuild it on our own should no one come to help us. Thankfully, there are many kind people who instead of wasting time on bulletin boards spouting rhetoric and spewing fear and judgment, spend their time doing whatever they can to help people in need. Whatever your religion, spirituality, morality or ethics, doing unto others as you would have them to do you is a universal act of goodness. Keep that in mind next time you speak.
Posted By Katie Walenter, New Orleans, LA : 4:22 PM  

Most people do not realize that there is more devastation to talk about besides New Orleans. What about Jefferson parish? What about the northshore of Lake Ponchartrain? The entire Mississippi Gulf coast? If New Orleans "shouldn't" rebuild, than these places shouldn't either right?
Sound like a good idea? Ok, attention all 750,000 people that reside in those areas... LEAVE! Leave your jobs, your families, your memories, your culture, and move to somewhere else to start all over again in a new environment. Still think its a good idea? Put yourselves in in these peoples shoes. New Orleans has been a fully functioning, necessary city for hundreds of years. To stop its reconstruction would be detrimental to this country.
Not everyone down here are rednecks, criminals, poor or uneducated. Only the ones who make the news are.
Posted By Amy C, Slidell, Louisiana : 5:08 PM  

It frustrates me to see that there is always enough money for war but never enough to take care of the problems we face in our own country, like education and emargency relief.
Posted By Nathan Ortega, Lakewood, CA : 5:11 PM  

For the last 9 months I have been trying to get a 4 acre parcel in the city qualified for FEMA Mobile Homes. Make no mistake about it, FEMA has approved the site but the City will not approve it even though it once was a trailer park and is on a main hwy. and is zoned commercial. Ray Nagin says he wants 7700 more units of housing but won't approve the sites. I think Nagin has set FEMA up as the fall guy
Posted By Lee, Taos, NM : 1:44 PM  

Firstly, those who think Hurricanes Katrina & Rita did not contribute to the levee breaches in New Orleans, you're completely inaccurate! The levees have managed to protect New Orleans for centuries, but the hurricane storm surge was the impetus that caused the levee walls to become compromised. Before making any assumptions about local officials not doing their job on building the levees, it is important to get all the facts. While the levee breaches were brought on by the hurricanes, this was just a symptom of a much larger problem. Many years of wetlands erosion made New Orleans & the MS Gulf Coast extremely vulnerable to the storm surges. Earlier decisions by federal officials to refuse appropriation of funds for the protection of these areas are at the bedrock of this tragedy.

Secondly, let�s not forget what the people of those communities (LA & MSGC) endured during those tragic days of Katrina and over the last difficult year. Remember how much life was lost in that tragedy as well as other tragedies we have been able to witness so comfortably from our living room easy chairs. Be compassionate & "first walk in another man's shoes before we pass judgment."

New Orleans has been around over 300 years under sea level and not to rebuild a significant part of American as well as World history is a true atrocity.

NOLA & the Mississippi Gulf Coast (MSGC) have endured much of the country's personal and chemical waste being dumped on them for centuries and they have risen above it before and will do so again. Through adversity comes strength, & the citizens who have decided to return, stay, stick it out, rebuild & wade through all the political red tape, I commend you. YOU are truly a special breed and essential to the continuance of the culture that makes those areas unique. You are what true survivors are made of-thank you for your strength.

Let's not forget how this country's citizens came together and ventured across country to the Mississippi Delta to help residents, evacuees, elderly, and the sick clean up the debris of their lives. To all those volunteers, religious church organizations, college and grad students, etc., who�ve helped these people clean up the incredible mess--May God Bless You for eternity.

Lastly, to federal officials: "MAKE SENSE (rebuild NOLA, the MSGC & the wetlands), and NOT WAR.
Posted By nola native, kmf in NC : 1:50 PM  

"Too much has been done! Too much has been done!" We are talking about the lives of real people here, so not enough has been done!!! Enough won't have been done until the city is back on its feet and the levees not just bandaged up. These are our fellow Americans here, who would have been rallied aide; say they were in New York, or LA, or even Iraq. The U.S. can respond to a crisis overseas for a tsunami in two days, but not to a crisis within its own at a swift pace--something is wrong in this picture. Being from the South I know first-hand that racism still exists by experiencing it on a regular basis; which is exactly the problem in the whole state of New Orleans, from the crooked cops, to the unfair prison sentences that have sooo many non-violent offenders imprisoned, to no one caring about the levee problem that has been an issue for years!!
Posted By Kim, Montgomery AL : 2:03 PM  

I was appalled at reading all of the negative comments about protecting our coastal region in South Louisiana. Most comments from those in other states tells me they have never visited New Orleans and they have no clue. They don't understand what impact will occur in their own state at the loss of New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana Communities. They need a lesson in economics and history, as well as, a statistics class. Levees are important to us in Louisiana, but more important is the rebuilding of our wetlands. With the efforts we are doing already and will be doing in the future to rebuild the wetlands, only then can the levees really be a true line of defense. Maybe then everyone with negative comments about protecting New Orleans and the Southern LA Coastline can get off our backs about the cost to the taxpayers of the US. By the way, our local and state government is doing much more than the federal government at protecting Louisiana. We've learned that you really can't depend on the federal government for help. We learned that going through Hurricane Katrina. I only hope you other US citizens don't end up suffering what we have suffered. Remember, we supply the seafood you eat, the gas you put in your car, the oil that heats your house in the winter, as well as, many other things too numerous to mention. I was totally shocked to read so many apathetic comments from so many US citizens. I urge you to visit New Orleans and the Bayou Region and try to have a change of heart and mind.
Posted By Monica, Houma, LA : 12:47 PM  

As a former resident of New Orleans, allI can say is if you haven't witnessed the devastation there,then you have no viable opinion. I left my home in Gentilly on August 27,2005, it was the very first time I ever evacuated for a storm, I had a great fear of this one. Now, one year andtwo months later, I am still not settled in a home. I was offered a Fema trailer,but since my husband died 3 weeks before Katrina, it seemed like a stupid proposal to me. I visited my home in December and going through the rubble that had been our life was like going into mourning all over again. It truly was dead. The silence of the city overbearing. Where I had a plush green lawn, it was brown and dead. All the work I had done in my flower gardens was useless, they too were brown and dead. I suppose you want to know if I will return to this place I called home, NO!
THE ONLY REASON I HAVE NOT TO REBUILD MY LIFE THERE IS , THE LEVEES. We were told for years that if we had a storm come in exactly the direction Katrina did, the city would flood. THE CITY WAS TOLD THAT, IT WAS COMMON KNOWLEDGE. wHY THEN WAS NOT SOMETHING DONE TO PROTECT US??????????? iF THE Netherlands,a smaller country can protect its residents why can't our government. This could happen anywhere.We could have had a tsunami a while back when we had an earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico. Would the country then desert those Americans?
Posted By Ginger Allain, Tucson,Arizona : 7:50 PM  

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.