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Archive for Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Orleans: Then and now

August 26, 2007

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When Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, it was labeled the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history, killing 1,800 people across the Gulf Coast and leaving more than 800,000 homeless.

Here is a snapshot of how New Orleans has changed.

Population: The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center estimates the current population at 294,000, a figure supported by U.S. Postal Service statistics. Other organizations put the figure around 274,000. The pre-storm population was around 450,000.

Demographics: Hispanic immigrants, many from Mexico, are a growing population. They are the laborers who are rebuilding the city. Their culture is slowly melding with that of this multi-national city.

Crime: Statistics released this month show violent crime - including murders, rapes, armed robberies and assaults - is up 31 percent, compared with the same period in 2005 before the storm. At the current rate, the city is likely to end the year as the country's most deadly city. Police Superintendent Warren Riley says the figures are disturbing, but he believes the department is stabilizing after two years of rebuilding infrastructure, struggling to recruit officers, and negotiating a battered court system.

Schools: The city's public schools were in disrepair long before the storm. Different entities oversee the current system. The Orleans Parish School Board, which once managed all the schools, now has control of 17. The Recovery School District, now overseen by former Philadelphia Schools Chief Paul Vallas, manages 107 low-performing schools grouped together after the storm. Vallas also has loose oversight over a growing charter school movement. Parochial and private schools attract half the city's student population, estimated at 32,000 this year.

Tourism: The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau reports the city's No. 1 industry is coming on strong: The convention and meeting business is back to 70 percent of its pre-Katrina levels and overall tourism is at about 60 percent. The French Quarter, the Garden District and the Magazine Street antique area - tourist-popular areas before the storm that were untouched by flooding - are thriving with new stores and restaurants.

Levee System: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that the levees are back to their pre-hurricane strength. And federal officials last week announced a plan that would significantly boost the city's flood-protection system by 2011. The proposal includes upgrading the levees to protect against a 100-year flood. Bush administration officials are expected to seek the extra $7.6 billion in funding from Congress next year.

Comments

Ragingbear 7 years, 4 months ago

Then: Rotting and decayed city. Festering cesspool of filth,crime,disease, drugs and corruption.

Now: Rotting and decayed city. Festering cesspool of filth,crime,disease, drugs and corruption, but made of chocolate apparently.

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