FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Orleans, Gulf Coast Census to Drop

As those in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast begin to face the overwhelming task of rebuilding from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, some tough decisions will have to be made about what to rebuild and where. The only thing certain at this point is that the region will never be the same as before.

Engineers are already evaluating structures, trying to determine what can be salvaged versus what buildings are total losses. Next, they will have to decide which areas to rebuild. Low-income neighborhoods are not likely to be reconstructed, at least not like they were. Who, after all, wants to rebuild a slum? But will the rebuilding include affordable housing, or will the new homes be priced outside the reach of low- and middle-income families? Also, building is not likely to happen in areas that are dangerous or that are now polluted. It's urban renewal, the hard way.

At any rate, the big question now is how many people will actually come back to the region. Those with property and businesses will want to return, but what about poor people who may find themselves better off in areas to which they have recently relocated? These people may not be back, and it is for this reason that observers such as the Herman Group believe that the next census will show a drop in overall population for the Gulf region.