09/15/05 — Rebuild? Where? Old New Orleans no longer exists

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Rebuild? Where? Old New Orleans no longer exists

To build a simple boat dock in our coastal regions requires the property owner to satisfy a number of demands before a permit is issued — if, indeed, the project is approved.

On the heels of Hurricane Katrina comes the challenge of rebuilding New Orleans. And New Orleans is a city lying below sea level, protected by dikes — that were breached during the hurricane.

New Orleans was destroyed: Homes, businesses, churches, factories. Even those who survived the hurricane in their homes are ordered to leave. Survivors have been relocated across the country.

Some plan never to return.

Return to what? Except for removing the rubble and trying to clean up the structures ravaged by flood waters but still standing, there can be relatively few permanent jobs in New Orleans today.

The mayor says the city is “broke.” It cannot pay its employees. To do what? Police, firemen and other emergency responders have faced Herculean challenges. But with all residents gone, whom will they now serve?

And how can they be paid?

The cost in human lives and misery and property has been enormous. But the loss of property values on which taxes are levied to run a city also must be astronomical.

What is the property tax assessment on a destroyed or uninhabitable home or business?

And how much property tax money can a city demand from the jobless owner of a home or business that is in ruins?

From these ruins and disaster might rise another New Orleans. But where? And meeting what standards that will protect it and its inhabitants from another Katrina?

Published in Editorials on September 15, 2005 10:38 AM