Five Years After Katrina, How Are the Levees Holding?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hope springs eternal from New Orleans, though much work remains to be done. (kla4067/Flickr)

We are coming up on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week, and while such milestones are as manufactured as they are macabre, at least in this case it provides a helpful moment for reflection. Half-a-decade out, we seemed to have reached a great enough critical distance for a serious appraisal of what has and hasn’t worked in terms of reconstructing the Crescent City. Documentarians and journalists are already weighing in, so why not the planners?

Downtown looms over the Lower Ninth Ward, which remains desolate in many places. (eastcolfax/Flickr)

The Brookings Institution released its 25th New Orleans Index earlier this month, the most comprehensive one yet, looking at everything from a rise in community engagement to a continued lack of medial care. There is an especially good essay, entitled “No More Surprises,” about how the storm has actually brought a semblance of critical planning to the city. The Urban Land Institute recently held a conference to explore the progress of its plan and others for the city, where it parachuted in shortly after to begin mapping out a rebuilding process, and the Van Alen Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund are holding a similar round table, Project Eco Delta, next week at the Venice Biennale. We’re sure there’s bound to be more discussion, and we’d like to start one of our own, so share your tips and experiences in the comments below.

3 Responses to “Five Years After Katrina, How Are the Levees Holding?”

  1. Suzanne Frank says:

    I’m watching Spike Lee’s movie tonight to get a better perspective on what’s happened and what will come.

  2. Lawrence Kasparowitz says:

    I love New Orleans….best caribeean city in America!

    But it is an example of the ugly nature of the tie between race and class… and the response to Katrina and the lack of building in the Ninth Ward are examples that our country should be ashamed of.

    Renew New Orleans!

  3. Alan Stevenson says:

    One lesser discussed issue is that while new flood resistant homes need to be 7′-0″ off the ground, how should architect’s develop ADA accessible designs for elderly and/or disabled occupants? We are finalists in the USGBC competition that attempts to tackle this issue. Check out our entry at

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