USA: After a natural disaster, is it better to rebuild or retreat?
By John Schwartz
Should communities hit over and over again by natural disasters — like hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and tornadoes — keep rebuilding? Or should they retreat from areas that are especially disaster prone?
To a large degree, New Orleans has made its way back since Hurricane Katrina. More than 17.7 million people visited the city in 2017 and spent an estimated $8.7 billion, a record. There are more restaurants for them to choose from than there were before the storm.
The city has regained roughly 81 percent of its pre-Katrina population, and many neighborhoods no longer show signs of the flood. But the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward still has less than half its pre-hurricane population.
The nation has spent billions of dollars since Hurricane Katrina on levees, flood walls, gates and pump stations around the city. But even if that is effective, Mr. Landrieu said, “If climate change continues to do what it does, if sea levels continue to rise, if the land continues to shrink, in 30 or 40 years New Orleans is going to be an island protected by this $14.6 billion barrier that we have.”