"The city needs a modern infrastructure, and you have to build something better," Blakely added. "New Orleans needs a modern economy, a new economic base, because you can't live on tourism alone."I have always liked the idea of rebuilding from the center out so that the city doesn’t spread its diminished resources too thin. However, that would only work if two things happen: (1) the city must guarantee that every neighborhood will be rebuilt, and, (2) the city must provide affordable, temporary housing in the “core” to all displaced residents who want to return.
"First we have to bring back the infrastructure -- across the entire city," he said. "We need sewer lines, streets, street lights, traffic lights. ... Power is still out in some quarters. All of that has to be put back before you can begin to put up houses."
Blakely said his office will develop a master plan for the city, which currently is home to about 200,000 residents but that he envisions may one day include up to a half-million people. His work will focus on rebuilding the city's core, and he said a bill before Congress would provide funding to modernize the levee system in the Gulf Coast region to avert another such disaster.
"We are very far behind the Japanese and the Dutch in putting in the types of flood-control systems that we need down here," he added.
Without a guarantee that every neighborhood will be rebuilt, the patchwork rebuilding would have to occur so that neighborhoods could prove their viability. And, affordable, temporary housing in the “core” would allow residents from the more heavily flooded areas to live in a functioning part of the city while the infrastructure in their neighborhoods, and ultimately, their homes are rebuilt. When they move back to their homes, they would leave behind an invigorated “core” ready for new people to move in. A thriving “core” combined with newly rebuilt neighborhoods with sound infrastructure would allow New Orleans to transcend its World Class status.
Oh, yeah, and the levee thing is important, too.