Sunday, December 02, 2007

Not so Big, Anything but Easy ...

Adapted from an article by Virginie Montet for Agence France Presse:

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still licking its wounds but efforts are being made to bring back the tourists that once made the Big Easy a major draw. New Orleans expects six million visitors in 2007, almost twice the number who came in 2006 but still well below the 10-million-a-year before the disaster.

More than two years on, much of the sultry city famed for its jazz and Creole cooking still lies abandoned after seas whipped up by the hurricane breached its levees on August 29, 2005. While parts of the city, such as the famous French Quarter, survived thanks to their slightly higher elevation, much has been left to rot.

Some 80 percent of the city was left uninhabitable by Katrina and thousands of Louisiana families are still living in cramped government-supplied trailers. Billions of dollars in federal aid remains wrapped up in bureaucratic red tape and blame is flying in all directions.

The musicians and artists who made the jazz mecca unlike any other place in the country are struggling with exorbitant rents, rising utilities costs, high insurance, spiking property taxes and violent crime.

A recent government study found that mental illness has doubled among Gulf Coast residents and there is a surge in the number of people considering suicide. New Orleans, which still has only 275,000 residents, has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the United States.

Some 1,600 people were killed in the hurricane and its aftermath, and almost half the city's residents who fled did not come back. On the facades of homes, writing in blood red paint by rescue workers remains as clear as the day it was written, including the date authorities passed by and the number of bodies they found.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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