Friday, September 09, 2005

"New" New Orleans

What's next for New Orleans? I read several articles today that offer predictions and plans.

First up, a PoliPundit blog post of a National Guardsman who's been on the ground for six days in the Big Easy. He writes up a list of several predictions including the rapid reconnection of utilities and the return of a scaled down version of Mardi Gras in February of 2006.

Second is an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune stating that Jazz Fest will go on as scheduled in May of 2006. It may not be in it's traditional location, but the organizers vow for it to return as close to New Orleans as possible.

Finally, the New York Times brings it all together in an article about New Orleans executives who are currently operating out of Baton Rouge. They too predict that the power, water and sewage will all be back to the French Quarter within weeks and that the Convention Center will be operational again in six months. They will also push for a Super Bowl as soon as possible and a Presidential Nominating Convention in 2008.

If the French Quarter and Warehouse District can get up and running as quickly as predicted, expect to see both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions take place in New Orleans. It will be the perfect forum for each party to both congratulate themselves while slamming the other for all the action/inaction during the Hurricane Katrina crisis.

1 comment:

jraine@aol.com said...

Wes I think the article about predictions is very interesting. I too have thought that the sudden shift in population will impact politics in Louisiana. It would be interesting to review how the voters of Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard Parish voted in the last gubernatorial election. I get the feeling that a lot of people will ultimately lay a lot of blame on the elected officials. But also, I think people might be wondering how they should be prepared to do avoid being caught in a disaster.

One thing that seems clear from this tragedy is that each of us must be prepared to take care of ourselves if we are faced with disaster, at least for the short term. Even with the vast resources of our government, it may be unrealistic to expect government to come to our aid very quickly. That has made me stop to wonder what lessons I can learn from the Katrina disaster. It seems that our government did provide advanced warning that was heeded by those who were not too complacent to listen and take action, i.e. evacuate before it was too late. Everyone else put themselves at risk. The military and FEMA provided follow-up rescue and medical service within a relatively short period of time after the flood. But there is that intervening time period after the disaster but before help arrived that I have been thinking about.

I believe that just as the National Weather Service is constantly monitoring conditions that may turn deadly, I believe other government agencies are on the lookout for early indications of other dangers such as planned terrorist attacks. This leads me to think that I should not be quite so complacent when I hear about elevated levels of “chatter” and what that really means.

What should I be prepared to do if a man made or natural disaster happens near me or a member of my family? The terms “entropy” or “chaos” seem to describe what happened immediately after the 17th Street Canal concrete sea wall was breeched, resulting in the great flood of 2005. The total breakdown of all communication seemed to literally paralyze the NOPD, that lead to a rapid deterioration of law and order. Should I figure out some kind of pre-arranged plan to communicate with my family members and others if telephones stop working?