How Could This Happen in New Orleans?04 Sep 2005
People in here Germany (she for example vowe for the past few days) how the chaos in New Orleans can happen in a highly-developed first-world country? One answer is that New Orleans was not in real good shape even before Katrina. At 11D I saw a quote from Nicole Gelinas of City Journal (a conservative urban planning journal) that seems to sum things up.
And the locals and outsiders who try to help New Orleans in the weeks and months to come will do so with no local institutional infrastructure to back them up. New Orleans has no real competent government or civil infrastructure—and no aggressive media or organized citizens’ groups to prod public officials in the right direction during what will be, in the best-case scenario, a painstaking path to normalcy.
The truth is that even on a normal day, New Orleans is a sad city. Sure, tourists think New Orleans is fun: you can drink and hop from strip club to strip club all night on Bourbon Street, and gamble all your money away at Harrah’s. But the city’s decline over the past three decades has left it impoverished and lacking the resources to build its economy from within. New Orleans can’t take care of itself even when it is not 80 percent underwater; what is it going to do now, as waters continue to cripple it, and thousands of looters systematically destroy what Katrina left unscathed?