02/28/06 — Think, then rebuild: Plans to bring New Orleans back should be made cautiously

View Archive

Think, then rebuild: Plans to bring New Orleans back should be made cautiously

Mardi Gras is back in New Orleans.

Although the numbers are down significantly from past years, the rebirth of the city’s annual celebration is a sign that there might be a little hope down in Louisiana.

So, while there will be many who will be quick to note what is still lacking in downtown New Orleans since the destruction left behind by Hurricane Katrina, there will be others who will see this as a sign of good news to come.

And they are right, sort of.

New Orleans is a long way from recovered, and while some residents have returned home, there are many, many more who simply cannot afford to return or have nothing to return to.

And some of them shouldn’t come back to the lives they left — poverty, poor housing, unemployment. They would be better off starting a new life in a new location. The last thing New Orleans needs is a city full of people who cannot find work, homes or food.

When the city is back on its feet, there will be services available to take care of those who want to start over, but for now, New Orleans can barely take care of itself. Those who are stable in other places should remain there, for now.

And that is just one of the practical realities that are going to be important as officials consider the next steps for New Orleans.

Planning ahead, examining what went wrong and making sure the rebuilt city will be stronger than ever are just a few of the considerations that are requirements before any real work can begin.

Add to that budgets, city design and what residents will need to rebuild their lives are also critical questions.

“Measure twice, cut once” is an old adage that suggests taking your time before making a major decision isn’t such a bad idea.

It is especially true for New Orleans, and the taxpayers who will pay the bills for its rebirth.

Published in Editorials on February 28, 2006 10:52 AM