Anyone here been to New Orleans lately?

Have an opportunity to go down in early January to participate in destruction/construction activities. Not sure what sort of situation exists down there.
Any insights?
Thanx Renata
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Renata wrote:

Not since 1984, but here's some info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction_of_New_Orleans
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Renata wrote:

Depends almost entirely on where. This for business or on a mission project? I'd say that would make all the difference in the world.
Haven't been personally but talked w/ some folks returning from mission work -- the worst of the worst areas are still quite bad and not getting much better as many have simply abandoned the property. Cleanup in these areas can still be pretty grim. The more affluent areas are progressing reasonably well on the whole.
--
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Renata wrote:

Was there last week. Wal-mart had re-opened that day that I took "Devastation Tour" on Grey Line. We were told that less than half of population had returned. Ninth ward area and St. Bernard Parish still largely uninhabited. Large areas of closed malls and businesses. The area is quite clean, but maybe that's due to the absence of people. Downtown largely unaffected. Saw NO school children in 4 days there. French Quarter still bustling. No foul odors or dead bodies. Be forewarned...the locals down there consider this a MAN-MADE disaster because the Army Corp. of Engineers wasn't doing its job, rather than a natural disaster because the city is built in a bowl.
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Be

I'll have to agree to some extent. The bowl effect was just waiting to happen however the city did reasonably well during the storm. It was the failed levies and or dikes after the storm that caused 95% of the damage.
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Leon wrote:

The NO locals will also vehemently tell you that it wasn't the levees that failed...they were all intact. It was the floodwalls inside the levees that collapsed. On our tour, we were shown the removed defective floodwall pilings which were 22' long and the new replacement pilings that were 72' long. The only problem was that the pilings that failed, appeared to have been bent over AT ground level, and the remaining buried component performed as expected. Granted, we only saw what they wanted us to see on the tour, but the guides sure couldn't handle our questions. The locals are also under the misunderstanding that IF the flood pumps had been closer to Lake Ponchartrain, then they could have handled the floodwaters. The sad fact though, was that the lake was already breaching the levees above flood stage, and a 15-20' storm surge was heading up the Mississippi river in the opposite direction, trapping NO in the middle. They'd have been better off to just shut the pumps off.
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I suspect that the locals did not do much television watching as in Houston we saw news coverage of the water going through a levee with bull dozers trying to fill the breach with dirt. There were no gates.
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eyeclinic wrote:

As a lifelong resident of the New Orleans area, I just love it when people around the country take the attitude that "those people are stupid for living in a bowl". Many millions of people in southern California live in close proximity to a major fault line. Will those same people be saying that Los Angeles should not be rebuilt if a major earthquake hits? FWIW, the Mississippi gulf coast was completely devastated by Katrina as well. I guess people just should not live within 200 miles of the coast, right? :-)
The most devastating portion of the flooding in New Orleans was caused by the failure of the floodwall on the 17th Street canal. Investigation showed that the sheet piling were not as long as the original specs called for. Engineers also misjudged the stability of the soil at certain depths. Failure actually occurred from underneath the pilings when the pressure of the full canal caused a blowout of the soft soil at the base, tilting the tops of sheet piles inward and allowing water to spill over the top.
As to the original question about conditions here, it is a tale of two cities. Downtown and the tourist areas are business as usual. Most visitors would never notice anything had happened unless they purposely tour the damaged areas. The suburbs on the western edge of the city are pretty much back to normal as well. But there are many square miles of former residential areas in the east, 9th ward, and Lakeview that are still devastated.
And Renata, if you are concerned about crime from things you've heard, 99% of that is drug related. If you are not buying or selling drugs, you are as safe as any other major city.
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The Corps of Engineers has become a convenient whipping-boy for a system that failed on every level. Yes, the Corps has admitted that some of the levee failures were a result of design deficiencies. The people who designed those levees have mosly died of old age by now. But other levees were simply overtopped and washed away. The end result wouldn't have been much different if the levees that had design failures had held.
Many people don't understand that projects such as levees are funded directly by Congress with funds earmarked for the purpose. The Corps has been sounding the alarm for 25 years that I know about that New Orleans could not survive a major hurricane. Congress chose to gamble that strengthening the levees could wait until other priorities were taken care of. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that they waited too late and lost the gamble.
Some local government agencies spent federal funds meant to maintain levees on other things. But that didn't cause the problem either.
Yes, I have worked for the Corps for 27 years. I'm still proud that I do.
DonkeyHody "Never kick a pulling mule."
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I'm not sure what aspects of the "situation" you want to know about. I was down there for 60 days last January & February, and made a quick trip down last Thursday/Friday.
If you're asking will you be able to find places to eat & sleep, yes, no problem. Most businesses are back up and running. You could go downtown and wonder what all the fuss was about.
But when you go out into the neighborhoods, it's a different story. Rich and poor alike, many homes still stand abandoned and waiting. Waiting for insurance suits to settle, waiting for the owners to see what the neighbors are going to do before they commit the resources. Waiting to earn enough money to buy another pickup load of sheetrock.
Violent crime is way up, and New Orleans already had a high crime rate. But it's mostly concentrated in areas your volunteer coordinators will keep you out of. Last January, I was involved in a minor fender-bender caused by a red light that wasn't working. We called the police dispatcher 3 times over a period of 1 hour and 45 minutes without ever seeing a patrolman. Finally, we just left the scene without an accident report. The insurance company was surprisingly understanding.
DonkeyHody "Never kick a pulling mule."
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I live there and all I can say is,if it weren't for the volunteers coming down to help rebuild, the New Orleans of the past would never recover. What we need is to take the local, state and federal government totally out of the rebuilding equation and turn it over the the volunteers and the many church groups that have been down here giving their heart and souls into the recovery projects.
Cooniedog
Renata wrote:

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I live there and all I can say is,if it weren't for the volunteers coming down to help rebuild, the New Orleans of the past would never recover. What we need is to take the local, state and federal government totally out of the rebuilding equation and turn it over the the volunteers and the many church groups that have been down here giving their heart and souls into the recovery projects.
Cooniedog
Renata wrote:

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wrote:

I gave up on NO when the mayor announced on national TV that it was to be a "chocolate city" and pissed away millions on the cleanup. Houston sucks up high crime rates on the migration from there when the city/state gov't ignored the poverty areas in the evacuation. Why restore something below sea level when they don't try to protect themselves. The poverty areas remain lacking because the local gov't doesn't want those people back! Leave 'em in Texas. Nope used to travel there two or three times a year but never more!
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wrote:

I get over there about every 6 weeks and I actually enjoy it more than I used to . Rates are going up but you can still stay in the Quarter for $100 or less and it's not nearly as crowded or dirty as it used to be. I still feel safe in the Quarter but stay between Bourbon and the river. We had the crime problem here in Houston and still do but a lot of the low lifes are moving back so crime has increased there as well. Just watch where you go and stay out of the drug traffic and you should be fine. If you've never been, you should take the opportunity - it's a unique city with great food and good folks. As mentioned in other posts, if you go east you will see a lot of destruction and little progress. It's sad that Mississippi and other parts of the gulf coast are steadily rebuilding while NO sits around waiting for someone else to do it for them. If you go, have a great trip.
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Thank you all for the replies.
I was asked to join a (I think) church group going down to help out in the recovery efforts, for a week. We'll be doing construction or destruction - whatever they powers that be assign.
I was pretty sure that the tourist areas are fine, but am concerned about the conditions where folks are doing what we'll be doing. Not crime so much as health related conditions.
Again, thanx for the insights and advice!
Renata
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I applaud your intentions! Some of the poorer folks in NO deserve all the help they can get.
Personally I hate wearing gloves and masks for work - my hands have a tendency to sweat, especially with latex gloves, and I have a beard that interferes with breathing masks. Still, when I work with blood and noxious chemicals I do wear what's needed. I would advise to be cautous when doing demolition and to wear precautions, especially respiratory protection.
YMMV!
--
Best regards
Han
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It might be wise to invest in a PAPR unit. They're the belt-worn- battery operated, HEPA filtered breathing masks that pump purified air into the mask. You can get them with full face masks, half face, or hoods with plastic full face shields. By far the best protection.
R
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I was there in March for a real long weekend trip.
Downtown is not physically hurt with the exception of unrepaired building that have been falling down for quite some time. The closer you move out toward the river, the more damage you see.
We didn't visit the 9th ward area, but it was very apparent that it was not going to be fixed any time soon.
Downtown was clean and going just about like normal.
The outskirts toward Mississippi really got a fair amount of damage.
Mississippi was completely screwed as far as I can tell.
New Orleans got a lot of air time, but to really see things, you need to see the Mississippi coast up to around Biloxi.
Those folks got wiped clean for about one mile back from the Gulf. I'm talking about a stretch of area about 90 miles in length.
It'as just gone.
Renata wrote:

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