Having just finished a long weekend staying in the French Quarter of New Orleans, I was in for some surprises. This was my first trip to NOLA post-Katrina and I was expecting to see a lot of devistation still.
What I found was the entire French Quarter intact. Even the areas around downtown seemed just fine. Sure, there was some blight just a few blocks off Bourbon Street though there was always blight in New Orleans. There seems to be a lot of vacancy in both residential rental properties and commercial storefronts. I think this speaks more to the confidence level people have of the area moreso than anything else.
The restructuring and rebuilding of a city that spent days under 15 feet of water is well underway. Interestingly, the locals notice tourism and convention traffic is down but they think it’s because of the NOLA crime rate. They don’t realize the rest of the country pretty much thinks New Orleans consists of Bourbon Street surrounded by a vast wasteland of abandonded houses and buildings.
The question remains if something like Katrina can happen again. The experts seem to indicate that it will and unless the floodgates are rebuilt to higher standards, the future damage to the city built below sea-level will be worse than last time.
If you are considering whether or not to make a visit, I suggest you do not hesitate…although you may want to avoid hurricaine season.