"My heart is in New Orleans and I must go get it back"

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Voices have been raised to say that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, or should be rebuilt only following certain guidelines. (en français)

There is no doubt that rebuilding will take place. The port and petroleum infrastructures are vital; the tourist industry is profitable. The question is what will be rebuilt, and by and for whom.

With the federal funding that has become available, investors from outside have quickly moved in - indeed have "bought up entire industries" - to make profits that will pour out of the city and Gulf region. The reconstruction effort is being taken over.

Meanwhile, small contractors, artisans and craftsmen - some of whom have irreplaceable traditional skills - and a large pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labor who have fled the city will be seeking to put their skills to work in functioning economies in other cities - and perhaps never return home.

It is true that any rebuilding should follow strict storm-resistant guidelines. But in order to help rebuild New Orleans's economy along with its buildings, those guidelines should also require that the rebuilding be done to the extent possible by local contractors and craftsmen who need to be given preference and encouragement to return, and with local labor. Apprenticeship programs should be part of these guidelines so that young people from the city, instead of being scattered in refugee camps around the South and the US, could be housed near their own city and help rebuild it while learning a trade.

Measures need to be taken now by federal, state, and local authorities to ensure that the rebuilding of New Orleans benefits her own people and not outside investors.

This site is intended to provide resources, in several languages, for seeing to it that the necessary debate takes place. Post comments and suggestions for links to the contact address below. Translators are welcome.

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From the speech by George W. Bush
(president of the United States):

"the federal government will undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities, so they can rebuild in a sensible, well- planned way."
"Our goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely. So we will have a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures. "
"And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. "
"We want evacuees to come home, for the best of reasons -- because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love. "
"we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity."