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Flood Insurance…

September 8, 2005

Over the past week and a half, I’ve kept coming back to the same question.   How many homes in New Orleans were covered by flood insurance before Katrina’s onslaught?

In my opinion, the answer to that question will go a long way toward determining whether or not New Orleans is rebuilt and, if it is, what sort of a city it will become. 

Why will it?  Because the simple fact is that, unless a household is quite well off financially, they won’t be able to cover the costs of rebuilding.  They will have no choice but to move on and settle down someplace else.

Well, after a week and a half of waiting, I have my answer, and it doesn’t look good:

"The call to rebuild New Orleans’ levee system may be mooted if its evacuated residents decide not to return. The federal government, which runs the flood-insurance business, sold only 85,000 residential and commercial policies—this in a city of 188,000 occupied dwellings. Coverage is limited to $250,000 for building property and $100,000 for personal property. Because the insured can use the money elsewhere, there is no guarantee they’ll choose to rebuild in New Orleans, which will remain extra-vulnerable until the levees are rebuilt.

Few uninsured landlords and poor home owners have the wherewithal to rebuild—or the desire. And how many of the city’s well-off and wealthy workers—the folks who provide the city’s tax base—will return? Will the doctors, lawyers, accountants, and professors have jobs to return to? According to the Wall Street Journal, many businesses are expected to relocate completely. Unless the federal government adopts New Orleans as its ward and pays all its bills for the next 20 years—an unlikely to absurd proposition—the place won’t be rebuilt." – Courtesy of Slate

What do you think?  Will New Orleans be rebuilt?

Personally, I believe it will.  There is simply too much infrastructure in place – the Port of New Orleans, oil refineries, chemical plants, coffee roasting facilities, et al – to pick up and move.  And besides, where would it move?  New Orleans is utterly dependent upon its geography.  It is a deep water port that happens to have access to the largest navigable waterway in North America.  It commands the Mississippi, and cannot simply be relocated.

However, its character may change, as many residents decide to move on and settle elsewhere.  But what, I wonder, will it become?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink
    September 8, 2005 3:12 pm

    I definitely think it will be rebuilt. So many people feel deep emotional ties to the city, that they will want it rebuilt whether or not it really makes fiscal sense.

  2. September 9, 2005 12:23 am

    I believe that it will be rebuilt, but in a much more scaled down, industrial version. It never grew naturally into a major city, we forced it’s growth with American ingenuity due to it’s valuable geography. Times change, cites grow and die. Only 50-60 years ago, Galveston was a much larger, progressive city than Houston until a hurricance destroyed most of it (I kind-of-sort-of paid attention in Texas History). New Orleans is to valuable of a port/waterway for it not to be rebuilt to some degree.

    PS – Matt, “The Protectors War” is great so far!

    Maybe New Orleans will become a tourist attraction of the ghost town variety

  3. Tim permalink
    September 14, 2005 12:15 am

    Um, yeah, uh, in case anybody wanted to know, yes, we had flood insurance.

    Leave it to my brothers to put up long posts about the flood without mentioning one of us that has been living in hotels for the past 3 weeks due and that will be living away from home for the next year or so due to the, um, flood. Heh.

    On the positive side, most restaurants in downtown Houston will give me a 30% discount if I pull out my LA drivers’ license.

    Which I usually forget to do. Doooh.

    At least it got Matt out to buy tampons, which still amuses the deranged 3rd grader inside of me. Not afraid to admit it. I’m big like that.

  4. September 20, 2005 11:23 pm

    Well, I know that my friends who are homeowners have flood insurance. Apparently, you can’t get a mortgage there without it.

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