Monday, September 18, 2006
The $7 billion that Congress has agreed to pay for home rebuilding in Louisiana is finally starting to make its way to homeowners. According to a report released last week, more than half of the early applicants say that they plan to rebuild on their old plots, rather than accept a buyout and rebuild else. This is good news for Louisiana and especially for New Orleans, which wants more of the 200,000 residents who are still away to return. Future news is unlikely to be so rosy for the city, however; early applicants are more likely to be persons with a strong desire and plans to rebuild in the city, while later applicants are likely to be people who are still figuring out where to resettle. The Crescent City probably will have to accept a future with a much shrunken population, which poses problems for rebuilding infrastructure, such as for streets and sewers. Most eastern cities have seen their populations fall in the past 50 years (St. Louis and Cleveland hold only about half as many residents as they did 50 years ago), but none as rapidly as New Orleans.