The Case for the Greater New Orleans Area: Why We Matter and Why We Should Exist.

After multiple hurricanes, severe flooding, staggering death tolls, expensive rebuilding price tags, and the likes, the critiques that New Orleans shouldn’t exist, be rebuilt, or similar sentiments, are gaining traction.  As Isaac just passed, people are voicing these opinions. Glenn Beck epitomizes this sentiment:

“I find it hard to feel sorry for New Orleans.” … “We should just walk away from that city. Why are we there?” … “I’m not sure if we should bother rebuilding it.” … “Why are we spending all this money in New Orleans? We shouldn’t spend a single dime of tax-payer money.” … “How much do I think should be spent on New Orleans? Zero. Nothing. Not a dime.” … “The Big Easy is a lost cause.”

So many from all over the political spectrum and various walks of life agree.  A lot less crazy people than Beck, as well.  These opinions may sound rational on the surface, but deeper analysis exposes its simplicity and absurdity.  I write this in a coffee shop, because my house has no electricity due to Hurricane Isaac, in an area that was obliterated by Hurricane Katrina. And less than ten minutes away from me houses in Braithwaite, Plaquemines Parish, are completely submerged.  Here’s my case:

Cities at Risk

New Orleans is nowhere near as much at risk to the problems we face and will face compared to other global cities.  According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the rise of sea levels put multiple U.S. cities ahead of New Orleans in terms of risk.  The most at risk city in the world is Miami, followed closely by New York City and Newark.  Even around the world, the OECD puts Chinese cities Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Hong Kong, and Ningbo more at risk than New Orleans.  Kolkata, Mumbai, Tokyo, and Bangkok were also ahead of New Orleans on the list.  So the notion that New Orleans is the most doomed city in the world and should simply be abandoned is unfounded.  In order for such sentiment to be logical, one must conclude that these cities should not exist as well, even more so than New Orleans.  If not, the hierarchy of what cities deserve the “right to exist” is illogical.  Nonetheless, who determines such a decision anyway?

Cities around the world are at risk from all sorts of disasters.  If you live in an earthquake prone area, you build infrastructure to withstand heavy earthquakes.  Dozens of cities around the globe and in the U.S., like San Francisco and Los Angeles, are built on fault lines. Unfortunately, if you do not build up to a certain code, for whatever reason, an earthquake could be disastrous.  We witnessed this in the Haitian Earthquake of 2010, where over 300,000 people died and over a million were left homeless.  That earthquake registered a 7.0 on the Richter scale. However, in Chile, an earthquake in the same year registering at 8.8 hit the country, but the death toll and damage did not even compare to Haiti.  This is thanks to Chile’s seismic building code adapted by Salvador Allende in 1972.  The logic is the same with cities along the coast.

Sea Level

Many who make the argument that New Orleans should not exist due to sea level are missing some vital information needed to maintain consistency.  The average sea level in New Orleans is one to two feet below sea level.  The initial flooding of Hurricane Katrina had nothing to do with sea levels.  It was not a natural disaster, it was an engineering disaster.  It had everything to do with a failed and outdated levee system, purposefully built weak and unmaintained to save money (something I will elaborate on later).  A recent study from Xavier and Tulane shows that more of New Orleans is above sea level rather than below.  Many places that flooded during Katrina were above sea level, including the Lower 9th Ward.  Many of the most populated neighborhoods in New Orleans are above sea level: the French Quarter, Uptown (up to 20 feet above sea level in some instances), the Marigny, Bywater, Treme, City Park (which has the highest point of 27.5 feet), etc. Many places around the world that are well above sea level flood.  In 2008, a levee breached in Fernley, Nevada, which led up to almost 3,500 residents requiring emergency rescue as water reached up to six feet.  Fernley is a soaring 4,200 feet above sea level.

An area can be below sea level while being heavily protected.  24% of Holland is below sea level, yet the area remains dry due to an incredibly well-built levee system.  Rotterdam, Netherlands, contains areas of the city some 22 feet below sea level, while the lowest part of New Orleans is seven feet (New Orleans East).  The Port of Rotterdam is the largest and busiest port in Europe, and second in the world.  Places around the world, from Israel to China and India to Germany, have areas with lower elevations than New Orleans.  The success of Rotterdam proves that such a feat is possible if done correctly.  It also proves the sea level argument is overly simplistic and not well researched.

Levees and Pumping System

Another typical argument centers on the selfish notion that tax-dollars should not go to pay for levees or pumping systems that protect other people, primarily in a place like New Orleans.  Many major cities around the world require sophisticated pumping systems to stay dry, from New York City to London, which has some of the largest and most refined pumping stations in the world.  These people fail to realize that 43% of the U.S. population lives in a county/parish that depends on federally funded levees to stay dry, according to the report “The National Levee Challenge: Report of the Interagency Levee Policy Review Committee” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  28 states require levees.  To deny New Orleans levees seems outright insensitive and unsympathetic.

Before we continue, the main purpose of this article is not about Hurricane Katrina, but so many naysayers point to the event as evidence why New Orleans is a pointless cause, so myths surrounding it must be addressed and squashed.  Many of our levees are built due to the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) built canals through our neighborhoods and the wetlands for oil and shipping industries to shorten the route to the Gulf of Mexico.  They put profit over people and the people protested it.  The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) was built in the ‘60s to help cargo ships reach the Gulf quicker.  The local residents, especially in St. Bernard Parish, protested it from the start, rejecting the notion that it would bring economic booms (which it never did).  I remember as a kid going over the bridge that crosses the Industrial Canal, or the “Green Bridge,” and seeing my father point in the general direction of MRGO and saying that if it does not close, it is going to drown us.

The MRGO mixed fresh water with salt water, which caused massive wetland erosion further eradicating our natural barriers against hurricanes, grew wider than the Panama Canal, caused us millions for dredging purposes, and was hardly used.  In 2005, the MRGO caused massive flooding in the 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish, and funneled water to other canals connected to it which led to the flooding of Lakeview, the New Orleans East, and other areas of the city.  The flooding did not come from the Mississippi River, but the canals undemocratically built around the city.  After the citizens were proved correct, the government closed the MRGO after Hurricane Katrina.  A little too late after at least 1,836 people lost their lives.  To suggest multinational corporations and the federal government should be allowed to build these canals yet the people who lived here for centuries are not allowed to have protection from those canals is both callous and illogical.

The reason these canals flooded in the first place was due to poorly built levees by the ACOE.  In 1985, the ACOE research branch funded an investigation, dubbed the “E-99” test, and concluded the levees will certainly fail if a major hurricane hits New Orleans.  Feeling it was too expensive; the ACOE did absolutely nothing to fix the situation.  The levee failures ended up costing more than $100 billion in damage, when fixing the levees would’ve just cost millions.  In 2006, the Chief of Engineers for the ACOE, Carl Strock, admitted the ACOE had a “catastrophic failure” in regards to the levees.  He resigned soon after.  In 2009, the ACOE was found guilty for the poorly built levees.  U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval, Jr. stated, “…the corps not only knew, but admitted by 1988, that the MRGO threatened human life… and yet it did not act in time to prevent the catastrophic disaster that ensued with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina.”

The flooding of New Orleans was an engineering disaster, not a natural one, which could’ve been prevented with properly built and maintained levee and pumping systems.  Unfortunately, the media and politicians continue to say the opposite, despite the overwhelming evidence, even at the highest levels of government.  President Obama stated at one point, “I think that Katrina was really a wake-up call for the country — about our need to fulfill our commitments to our fellow citizens, a recognition that there but for the grace of God go I, that all of us can fall prey to these kinds of natural disasters.”

Many other major cities rely on levees as well: Detroit, Louisville, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Baltimore, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, Honolulu, Washington D.C., Omaha, Jacksonville, Savannah, Albuquerque, Tampa Bay, and especially Sacramento, who has the most at-risk levee system in the U.S.  Why should anyone in New Orleans, or any of these cities, not have functionally levees?

(For more information about New Orleans levees visit

Port and Economy

Now that we dispelled those myths, we have not even touched on the surface about the positives of New Orleans.  Economically, the Port of New Orleans is one of largest ports in the U.S. based on volume of cargo.  The Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the Western Hemisphere.  Together, these ports make up one of the largest in the world.  New Orleans enjoys an incredibly strategic position located at the mouth of the Mississippi River, where it is wide enough to maintain intensive traffic.  It is the only deep-water port in the U.S. that serves six railroads and brings in iron, coffee, steel, coal, timber, chemicals, more than half of the nation’s grain exports, etc. to our nation.  If you lose New Orleans, you lose the port that brings us some of our most important supplies and raw materials.

We have other economies that help the U.S.  Metropolitan New Orleans is the center for the U.S. maritime industry.  We supply a significant portion the nation’s oil refining and petrochemical production.  Louisiana ranks 5th in oil production and much of it comes from the New Orleans area.  We are a city of higher learning, with over 50,000 students in the university system.  Our multi-billion dollar tourist industry is massive and one of the largest in the U.S.  We are also home to numerous headquarters for various companies.


To those from New Orleans, you do not need to read this, as I cannot possibly capture the soul of our culture in this short amount of text.  People wrote books on it and felt unsuccessful.  As Chris Rose, a famous local journalist, once put it:

“I’m not going to lay down in words the lure of this place. Every great writer in the land, from Faulkner to Twain to Rice to Ford, has tried to do it and fallen short. It is impossible to capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in words and to try is to roll down a road of clichés, bouncing over beignets and beads and brass bands and it just is what it is. It is home.”

New Orleans has a lure which brings people from all over the world to visit and settle.  My great-grandfather came from Sicily to New Orleans in the early 20th century and could not imagine living elsewhere.  We have some of the best food in the world.  Ever had etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp and grits, muffulettas, po-boys, boiled crawfish, raw oysters, beignets, and the likes?   We love to eat, drink loads of alcohol, and have a great time.  We love the outdoors.  Ever rode on a boat and watched the sun come up through swampy trees while listening to the sounds of pure nature? Should I even mention the music or does that go without say?  We have Mardi Gras.  We have eclectic accents spread out around the city.  We have Spanish and French architecture not found in the rest of the U.S.  We are the epitome of a melting pot.  Our history is so extraordinarily rich with tales of success, tragedy, resistance, and triumph.  People are still charming and laid back, giving us the term “The Big Easy”.  It is addicting and captivating, and if you don’t live around here, it might be hard to understand.  But like Mr. Rose so eloquently put it, I won’t “capture the essence” realistically, so why bother continuing?

Perhaps a friend who was not born here can summarize it better:

“I remember seeing New Orleans for the first time when I was 14 and barely able to construct an abstract thought. I remember that moment because I had never in my life experienced a ‘knowing’ that I was about to experience something magical. I LIVE for the strange synchronicity that New Orleans freely gives. I LIVE for stopping on the street to speak to whoever has something to say. I LIVE for New Orleans rhythm… rhythm that is full of life. Both good and bad. New Orleans is ALIVE! And anybody who believes different is a sad individual that has lost their own meaning.”


There are no logical and well thought-out reasons why New Orleans deserves to be left to drown.  It is a city that must and should be protected.  With rising sea levels and waters getting warmer, investing in smart building is the right thing to do, and we know it can be done.  We will continue to rebuild, preserve our heritage, live life to the fullest, and move forward.  It’s going to take a lot to wipe us off the map, and we are not going anywhere anytime soon.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

-Chris Dier

… we may have our struggles, more than other places in the U.S., but pushing through them demonstrates our love for this area.

“People don’t live in New Orleans because it is easy. They live here because they are incapable of living anywhere else in the just same way.” -Ian McNulty

And as my good friend Amanda Roark puts it, “I’d rather struggle in New Orleans than make it anywhere else.”


126 thoughts on “The Case for the Greater New Orleans Area: Why We Matter and Why We Should Exist.

  1. When was the last time, and how many times has Miami, NYC and Newark been considered disasters? How many more times will New Orleans and otherthe disaster prone areas expect to get bailed out by federal tax dollars? Sounds like someone is in denial here.

    • I will make a deal with you: For every 25K people who have to leave Southeast Louisiana we close a chemical or refining plant. When the total number of people leaving reaches population of New Orleans (be careful with this one as it is 100K smaller then it used to be) we start closing the Ports. The deal is if the United States can not see our benefit then it will get no benefit from us. I think it is more then a fair deal.

    • If every area was told to shut down and move on because of natural disasters, where would we all go. Think JR before you post ignorance online, it only makes you look uninformed and silly. Here are few more examples of people living in risky areas who get federal assistance when needed, which I gladly agree is needed when events happen: Mudslides (West Coast), Earthquakes (West Coast), Wildfires (Colorado, New Mexico, Cali, etc.), Tornadoes (in too many states to name), Severe Snowstorms (Northern States).
      So now, which part of the US would you have us move to that doesn’t have disasters.
      Don’t be a disaster as an American, JR. Support your fellow countrymen/women as they would you, if whatever town is lucky enough to have you, is struck!

      • If my home is blown down every other year because I keep rebuilding it in the same disaster prone area, then you can call me ignorant or stupid. How many times do you have to get bitch slapped by mother nature before you get a clue? Oh, but wait, liberals never get a clue now do they?

      • What…Are you that ashamed of your own identity that you have to impersonate someone of higher intelligence than yourself? By the way, I don’t bitch about gas prices. I’m not a government moocher and can afford to fill both of my SUV’s.

    • You shouldn’t type, you might get typecasted genius! Maybe spell check next time you wanna get political, talking such mediocrity about my city.

    • Since May 29, 2012, the following states have made major disaster declarations: Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, Wisconsin, Montant, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Florida, Colorado, Vermont, and New Hampshire ( yet no one argues that these places do not deserve to be saved or protected.

    • BILLIONS OVERNIGHT to Umpteen NYC FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. Duh. $25 BILLION for “the big dig” Boston traffic project. So soon you forget. Denial?

    • Since May 29, 2012, the following states have made major disaster declarations: Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, Wisconsin, Montant, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Florida, Colorado, Vermont, and New Hampshire ( yet no one argues that these places do not deserve to be saved or protected. Where do YOU live–maybe we should all move there and we will be free of natural disasters. BTW, since the federal government CAUSED the flooding after Katrina, isn’t it only fair that they compensate people like me who had 8 feet of muck in my living room? And what about places like Bay St. Louis, MS, which had 100+ year old houses wiped out by the tsunami caused by Katrina–houses which had never been touched by previous hurricanes?

      • Cry me a fucking river. Life sucks and so does mother nature sometimes. Get over yourselves. Go bitch to your insurance companies, or just damn move. It’s gonna happen again, and again, more than most other states you mentioned. It’s a damn given, yet you’ll still rebuild and you’ll still bitch because you’ll continue to make the same stupid decisions. Take some damn responsibility for once in your miserable whiny ass and stop blaming the world when mother nature pisses in your Wheaties.

      • I don’t know why I am wasting my time on this since you don’t seem interested in facts, but for the benefit of more reasonable people, here goes: You are responding to an article about New Orleans, so the assumption is that your comments refer to New Orleans. You stated “if my home is blown down every other year because I keep rebuilding it in the same disaster prone area . . . .” My father was born in New Orleans in 1926 and lived here all his life. Although many hurricanes came through New Orleans from 1926 through 2012, never was his nor my house blown down. In my 61 years here, there have been only two episodes of flooding: hurricane Betsy in 1965, which flooded a small part of the city when the levee failed, and again in 2005, when the levees, which were negligently built and designed, again failed.

        You stated “. . . liberals never get a clue now do they?” If you were interested in FACTS rather than just spewing insults, you would know that Louisiana is a RED state, having voted for Republican presidents 3 out of the past 4 elections, and that almost all of our important State offices are held by Republicans. You would also know that in Louisiana, party registration is not of much relevance due to our open primary system.

        You stated “though some people seem to believe that it won’t happen again, they still rebuild knowing full well, in the back of their minds they have an extremely high chance of losing their property. This happens over and over again. . . .” Sorry, dude, but I, along with most people of my generation who have lived in New Orleans all our lives have had only ONE major loss. And no, you can’t read my mind–I do NOT think it will happen again as I have detailed knowledge about what has been done to prevent it from happening again and believe that we are safe. (Witness Hurricane Isaac which, while causing flooding to areas outside the levees, did not flood New Orleans despite dumping torrential rain here for several days.) Are you saying that after one incident everyone should pack up and go?

        You ask “how many times do you lose it all before you make an effort to prevent it from happening again?” I have lost it once and think proper preventative steps have been taken. I take responsibility for my decision and have taken proper protective measures in case I am wrong, in the form of insurance, for which I pay through the nose and have done so since 1982. The insurance company made a big profit off of me for all but one of those years.

        You stated “It’s going to happen again, and again, more than most other states you mentioned.” Untrue. First of all, read the article that started all this and my comments above. The federal government has taken steps to correct its mistakes and prevent a re-occurrence. Secondly, New Orleans is hardly a disaster prone area, compared to other places. The state of Louisiana had 6 major disaster declarations since 2007. This compares to 9 for New York, 11 for Kansas, 12 for Missouri, 12 for South Dakota, 10 for New Jersey and 10 for Oklahoma.

        You ask how many times “New Orleans and other disaster prone areas expect to get bailed out by federal tax dollars.” The only reason I looked to the federal government for anything after the 2005 levee failure was to compensate me for my losses that exceeded my insurance (I carried the maximum amount of insurance) –because the federal government CAUSED my losses. It was NOT Mother Nature who caused the flooding in 2005. I hardly got “bailed out” because I incurred $30,000 in rental fees for the two years I was displaced–money which was reimbursed by no one. Now, if someone were to negligently design, install and maintain the plumbing in your house, resulting in catastrophic damage to the house, are you going to tell me that you wouldn’t seek compensation from the responsible party? I doubt it, although you could always just bitch to your insurance company or move.

        Now go ahead and have another drink so you can spew some more venom, but this will be the last post by me. I have better things to do with me life. Peace and love.

    • hi J,
      even with better engineering in place – the kind that would significantly reduce hurricane damage to new orleans, making the damage more comparable with other, lesser, natural disasters that regularly occur in other regions of the united states – do you still believe new orleans should be abandoned? if so, will you explain why (other than human stupidity)? there have been some really excellent arguments made here, and all you seem to have done so far is insult people without resourcefully countering their arguments. i am very interested in hearing the other side of the argument if you might be willing to reach beyond your strong feelings on the issue(s) to present a good case. call me unintelligent if you must, but i am just unable to be convinced of an argument when its strongest point is simply that people are ignorant fucks – especially when you continue to hammer said argument while refusing to answer the questions people keep asking: new orleans is not the only disaster-prone area that gets struck frequently; if you propose leaving new orleans, why do you not also propose leaving other places people have mentioned (or do you)? please explain! thank you.

      • When did I say New Orleans should be abandoned? My only point is that even though some people seem to believe that it won’t happen again, they still rebuild knowing full well, in the back of their minds they have an extremely high chance of losing their property. This happens over and over again. Those very same people will continue to complain that the feds aren’t doing enough. At what point in time do those folks begin to understand that mother nature doesn’t care about your property. Again…my point being, how many times do you lose it all before you make an effort to prevent it from happening again. I’m not talking shutting down a city, I’m talking about common sense decisions. Not one person who responded to my smart ass remarks made any effort to take any responsibility for their own personal decisions. I never said, nor do I agree with shutting down any city because of what mother nature decides to do with it. Before some of you get your liberal panties in a wad maybe you should think logically before trying to defend your argument. And I might add you should go back and read my first comment to this blog article and then read what the responses were. I find it very amusing how quick some of you twisted my original comment in an effort to create your own argument with me.

    • ah, sorry for the delay in responding here. i guess i fail to see how it’s possible to keep a city alive (i.e. not abandoning it), but not having anyone live there.

      really my main question from reading your comments (J), is “where should the people go?” the residents of new orleans are stupid enough to live there, year after year, aware of the danger; some of them even losing their homes. but if they’re stupid enough to live there, why do you think they’ll be smart enough to figure out where they SHOULD live? i and others brought up the question of “where do you consider it safe enough or low-risk enough to reside?” and you haven’t acknowledged the other unpredictable natural disasters that occur in quite a number of other regions in the united states. if the people of new orleans are that fucking stupid, they’re not going to be smart enough to figure out their own stupidity from reading comments like yours. they’re going to need A LOT of help from intelligent people, such as yourself, in knowing where and even why to relocate; otherwise they’d have figured it own on their own as it is rather common sensical, yes? i mean, these are some seriously stupidass people we are talking about here.

      you know, i brought up tornadoes in my last comment and was reminded of this conversation today as i talked with someone i know who moved to kentucky from florida. she had a really good point to make: “at least in florida, we knew when the hurricanes were coming. we got a few days’ notice on them. tornadoes? they just come anytime, out of nowhere.”

      • There sure are a lot of stupid people(millions) living on a major earthquake fault line in california. There sure are a lot of stupid people living in Joplin, Mo, Tuscaloosa, Al(tornadoes), south Florida( 2X as likely to get hit by a major hurricane). There sure are a lot of stupid people working for GM, Chrysler, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, etc. There are sure a lot of stupid people commenting on this site. My tax dollars have bailed out many others. If for some reason disasters in NOLA are to exempt from federal dollars( we pay our fair share), then I’ll be more than happy no not pay the feds another penny.

  2. I am a New Yorker that longs for New Orleans on a regular basis. From the moment my feet first touched the ground I felt a sweet spark of something too abstract to convey with words. Thanks for this post!

  3. This is great – thank you! I love the quote from your friend because that could have been me (except I was age 12, I believe). I live up the river a bit but New Orleans is my heart’s home; I cannot wait to get back for each visit and am more reluctant to leave each time. And as IF a city that’s been around for hundreds of years would, should or even COULD just ‘go away’. Good luck with dat, talking heads!

  4. Wonderful article, as if the case really needed to be made. New Orleans exists and it isn’t going away. It is home for many, so it must be maintained. Add to that the magic which is New Orleans, and one can see that if New Orleans didn’t exist, someone ought to create it. I often wondered, after Katrina, if a twenty-first century rebuild, as was done in Chicago after the fire, would not have brought about an incredible artistic, architectural, engineering and economic rebirth. Granted, it was a different time with a different economy, but the blank slate which the fire gave the rebuilders on Lake Michigan might have brought great opportunities at the other end of the Mississippi.

    • And it did. Not in the same way, and maybe not in a visible way (why would you change the aesthetic?), but it is being rebuilt in a more sustainable way. There are many new minds with great energy coming to the city that has helped a great creative class emerge.

  5. This was truely the most well written argument for our city I’ve ever read. I was so upset reading the ignorant comments after Issac it was just heartbreaking to hear such hatred and misunderstanding of such an amzaing city and community of people. My father was a retired river pilot and my brother’s are both tug boat captains. Without them the people like them the port stands still and our nation would lose millions of dollars a day. People have no concept as to what the importance of New Orleans is to our Nation and to the World. Thank you for taking the time to enlighten them.

  6. I’m 10th generation NOLA. Ancestors here since the early 1700s, and you leave out an important point. There is no need for “the country” to save us. We are US citizens and yes we pay taxes. In fact we’ve given our fair share of $ BILLIONS overnight to financial institutions(Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, etc.), auto corporations, and for natural disasters/ terrorist attacks elsewhere, and you don’t hear us complaining. In fact, the proposed $1 billion/ year coastal restoration project over the next 50 years is but a tiny fraction of what WE from LOUISIANA send to Washington in tax revenue offshore and onshore(approximately $40 Billion per year).

    “The BIG DIG” was a project to improve traffic flow in Boston via a new tunnel, a new bridge, and roadways. It was completed a few years ago at a cost of $25 BILLION. A portion of that was paid by Louisiana taxpayers.

    The question, therefore is this: Is our very existence worth as much as the existence of Goldman Sachs? Is our existence worth as much as improved traffic flow in Boston?

    If the cost of our continued existence is but a fraction of the money taken away from us, what seems to be the problem?

  7. My emotions get the best of me when I encounter ignorant people. I want to thank you for replying to them in an intelligent and eloquent manner. I am from Houma and currently live in Honolulu with my husband. I also lived in Okinawa for 3 years, so I am no stranger to hurricanes and typhoons. When I was a kid, it was always a treat to go into “the city”. I may live in what many people refer to as “paradise”, but everyday I long for everything that is Cajun. I don’t give a hoot what the rest of the country, or the world for that matter, says about us. I am so proud to be who I am and where I am from. I consider myself extremely well rounded as a person as well as quite a character due to my colorful heritage. I may not be perfect at spelling, grammar, or the proper pronunciation at times…….but I’m no less educated.

    Until I read your article I had no idea that we had levee’s here in Hawaii. So thank you for pointing that out. Most people only come here to vacation 1,2, or maybe 3 weeks if they can afford it. It is a whole different ball game once you settle. Just like any other place “paradise” can be reduced to rubble in a matter of hours from a tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake. Hawaii is subject to many “natural” disasters. I have lived here for four years and in that time I have come uncomfortably close to several tsunami warnings, a few hurricanes, and a few earthquakes. Thankfully these occurrences have not cause major damage. But what if they had? What if the tsunamis increased, the hurricanes increased and made direct hits, and the earthquakes registered more than 3 points? Would people want to abandon the Hawaiian Islands too?

    • Well put. I am from New Orleans and currently live away. There is not a day that goes by that my heart doesn’t ache for home.

  8. Just because we have a hurricane once in a few years doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be here, what about L.A the have earthquakes they shouldn’t live there right. I’m just saying if you want to live in a place where mother nature happens then you should just kill yourself!

  9. First of all, Congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed”!!!!
    Chis you captured what NOLA is truly made of and who makes it what it is today, the PEOPLE! The different communities in NOLA makes it home. I lived in Metairie and Kenner and worked in NOLA for almost 10 yrs. Until Katrina hit. I have not been back since. I miss that area very much…mostly the friends that I met during those 10 yrs. It will ALWAYS be my home. I live in the state I was born and grew up, but New Orleans area is HOME! Thank you for writing such a needed article and beautifully done. Beck has his opinion, but never lived there. You have to live there to know what New Orleans is all about.

  10. Thank you so much for very eloquently making the case for New Orleans and the state of LA. I live in Baton Rouge was struck by a comment a friend made as we dealt with Isaac – “It used to be that Baton Rouge was the safe place to be when you evacuate north. Not anymore.” We all need to pay attention to the very real and far reaching consequences of neglect/ignorance contributing to ongoing coastal erosion. I can’t thank you enough for educating all of us and answering some of terrible rhetoric out there.

  11. I spent six years in the third world of Papua-NewGuinea. I expected it to be “different”. When I first came to New Orleans some 40 years ago I had a bigger cultural shock than when I went to New Guinea. New Orleans is not like other cities in the US. It took a year to adjust to the difference. Now, I will never get New Orleans out of my blood. Thanks for a wonderful, insightful article.

  12. I am also from NOLA and never really was able to communicate exactly what it is
    about my city that has such a hold on me. I lived in San Francisco , go to New York several times
    a year, have been to Paris… These are some of the most beautiful cities in the world but I would
    still rather live in New Orleans that any where else. Whether it be hurricanes, oil spills
    or whatever else comes our way we will rise above it ! Especially if we have a pirogue!!!
    Look, New Orleans is not perfect (for from it) but it has something that no other place or city
    has, the fun and magic of living here is trying to figure out WHAT that is…. Who Dat !!
    P.S. Glen Beck is an ASSHOLE

  13. Thank you for posting this. I would like to visit New Orleans someday. I happen to live somewhere that could be considered as being “in the line of fire,” since most Africa’s cloud sprouts brush by us before turning into terrible hurricanes. We also have tons of art, music and culture to share. I identified with your post. Very well explained.

  14. Thank you for such a beautiful and powerful display of reasoning to counter the breathtaking lack of awareness, sensitivity, and plain stupidity that characterizes pretty much everything that comes from Glenn Beck’s mouth. The importance of New Orleans to the fabric of this nation is impossible to put into words, but you certainly come close to doing it.

  15. We need two things to happen in South Louisiana: 1- The U.S. Corps of Engineers to redesign the discharge from the Mississippi, Pearl, Atchafalaya, and Sabine Rivers, so that sediment from these rivers are used with maximum effect to help rebuild the marshes. In addition, oil companies must be willing to give up many of the canals they have dug over the last century for this to happen, and coastal restoration projects must be stepped up to become a serious and necessary budget concern. Also, the U.S. Military needs to donate stripped of all hazardous materials any ships, aircraft, tanks, heavy trucks, barges, landing craft and other heavy scrapped military equipment to be strategically placed in the marshes to serve as barriers from incoming storm surges.
    2. The E.P.A. and the D.E.Q. need to relax requirements somewhat on the N.M.F.S. and the Weather Bureau to experiment on incoming hurricanes out in the mid to near Atlantic, to do fly overs using U.S.A.F. heavy bombers and heavy cargo aircraft converted to seed these hurricanes flying high above them with silica sand which will absorb water and collect many times its weight in water and drop safely into the ocean to be completely dissolved within 24 hours and fall as sand to the ocean floor; thereby effectively raining out the hurricane’s core. These two things in combination will control our environment substantially.

  16. Pingback: Words On My Radar (Issue 1) « Courage 2 Create

  17. i’m sad to see there is some ugly rudeness going on in the comments here.

    i personally think the writer made it undeniably clear that an enormous amount of damage to new orleans could and still can be prevented, had things been done properly in the first place. however, if you have a good case otherwise, please state it openly; don’t just come here to insult people without saying anything constructive that we can actually converse about! everyone else here was being friendly and your opinions will be much better received if you express them in a friendly manner too.

    my hometown lies very near the new madrid fault line; the one that famously caused the mississippi river to flow backwards for several days. i guess you might make the argument that it’s been two hundred years since that, though fairly regularly experiences small tremors. i vividly remember being taught as a kid what to do during an earthquake. they expect the new madrid fault line to move again, and much more violently than it did in 1812! but that doesn’t seem to keep anyone from living there or cities from growing. should it?

    my hometown is also in part of that tornado region another commenter mentioned. tornadoes frequently tore through the area when i was a kid (and when i say frequently, i mean every year!). tornado damage was just expected. my cousins’ house was completely demolished in a tornado; they even had to completely rebuild the basement. but they rebuilt in the exact same spot as their old house! should they have left the region altogether, because who’s to know when another hurricane might come along and do the exact same thing?

  18. Chicago burned down, San Francisco burned down + shook down, L.A. shook down and burned down, N.Y.C. gets terrorized every few months + the liberal Democrats have basically destroyed the city anyway along with Wall Street protesters camped on every corner. The whole U.S. of A. makes very little manufactured goods any more. China makes it all. Speaking of which every year cities along the rivers of China get flooded and they build back, year after year just like ants. The only difference is Chinese ants depend upon each other, not the government. Syrian and Iranian cities are being bombed and shelled daily and as soon as the revolution is over, they will rebuild with NO government loans or grants. Yet, Americans can’t seem to buy toilet paper without financial help from the government. A for instance: A FEMA agent announced this morning on a local New Orleans T.V. station, those “poor people” who fall below a certain income level who have not received any Food Stamp Cards or grants for housing, please use their “smart phones” to contact FEMA or the State of Louisiana for assistance. I do not qualify for any aid even though I am retired and my wife is retired, because we both worked for a living for 40 years each and have a savings, a c.d., a social security check, and a state retirement check. Yet, “poor people” who piss away all their money on Nike shoes, Oscar de Larenta glasses, Gucci purses and Cadillac Esclades with “Smart Phones”, who have no idea of money management get the assistance, while those who have common sense and who are frugal, shop at the Dollar Tree and Sav-a-lot and yard sales & flea markets we have to do without and try to eat foods from our freezers which was over 60% defrosted and then refrozen because we can’t afford to toss it out like “the poor people” …We are the ones who have to suffer silently for those “less fortunate than ourselves”. I don’t have a “smart phone” I have one of the old “dumb phones” that does nothing but make telephone calls, and I drive a 5 year old medium sized P/U truck Chevy, not a Caddy. I am the fellow who in my 40 years of working donated over $250,000 to different charities at $10-50 per donation. I am the one to ask, why can’t people take care of themselves? I did, my wife did too. What’s wrong with this country? Two things: laziness and greed. So, stick it in your left ear. If I want to leave New Orleans, I will leave. If mother nature wants all of us to leave, that to will happen. But blaming people for following their work and living near their work; then, retiring next to where they used to work simply because they are familiar with the area.

  19. One of the other things not considered is how you would ever move the port of New Orleans which accounts for the majority of the shipping done by the midwest. To give an idea, the port of Houston cost $18Billion .. and part of that was in 1940’s money .. to have a port for the 30 states that the Mississippi ties into would be a major engineering and construction feat, if even possible and the engineers I know have doubts of the feasibility since the the size vessels the port handles can not go much further up the river. And while New Orleans does get storms .. they are not on a yearly basis .. unlike some comments earlier .. and if you consider that parts of the city that were affected by Katrina where over 75 y.o. obviously we do not wind up “rebuilding” yearly. My home in New Orleans was built in the 1850’s and is still standing. As far as insuring .. sorry but the only flood insurance available is Federal so don’t bitch when we use it .. yes its federal insurance so our payments come from a federal fund. And while I here people make the comment that we should not rebuild New Orleans, I don’t hear the same people say we shouldn’t rebuild Texas which has received more FEMA funds than any other state.

  20. Pingback: Bye-Bye, Isaac. |

  21. I live in New Orleans area most all pf my 58 years of life, and why all the negative remarks, can’t we all just get along. How can anyone judge another unless they have walked in their shoes? A very old simple saying, yet so true. Come on people lets love one another, pull together, I feel that was Gods plan in the very beginning. Some people just donot get it. They sure are missing out. Don’t worry, be happy. No worries down south in diaster zone. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger…….Avia

  22. Thank you, thank you thank you. I moved here from Massachusetts last March. When I am asked why I moved here New Orleanians nod and smile when I shrug and say I belong here. I don’t bother arguing with those who don’t get it. I’m sure we’re better off without them ..

  23. Floodplains are here to be flooded! Basic Hydrology 101. There will be many small floods and rarer, but nevertheless, a great one. Who think he/she can beat the Nature should be prepared to count on himself after the hurricane strikes. This strike is unavoidable, sooner or later. Citing examples of other cities that are bound for disaster is irrelevant in any single case, many wrongs do not makes one right.

  24. What a wonderful piece! I Dnt live in my home state of Louisiana at this time b/c my husband is military and we hv been stationed in a diff state. However while I love the place we live currently I hv a longing for the culture, food, and people of New Orleans. It’s with me always!!!

  25. New Orleans is a city unlike any other in the U.S.; beauty and decay coexist with history, and culture. It has had a hold on me since my first visit 10 years ago, and I long to return soon.

  26. This is a great article! I was born in NY and have been obsessed with New Orleans most of my life. There is somehow some deep connection with the city and I have always been unexplainably drawn to it. Last year I was finally able to visit for the first time and I fell in love with with it and really connected with it and the people I met (mostly artists as I am one myself). I was more inspired than I have been my whole life and I want to live there with my husband. I dont know how to explain it but NOLA feels like the home I was meant to be born to. I especially love Treme and the other pre-English parts of the city. I would love to live there and just donate time to help everyone rebuild their homes while i write and create my art. Most people think this is crazy coming from a forty something NY Jew but I would love it. Am I crazy to want to live in or near Treme? As a non-native would I be welcome or accepted? I can find little out on this as apparently thanks to Hollywood and HBO when I tootle about this subject all I get is fictional BS.

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