OK, everyone’s got to admit now that there’s just something systemically wrong with New Orleans. How many hurricane-hit cities in the past 50 years have been a basket case two years after the storm? Name one. I rode out Hurricane Frederick in 1979 in Mobile, Ala., even went out in the eye. It wiped Gulf Shores clean. It looked like God had taken his hand and wiped all the homes right off the beach. Ships were pushed up on land in the Port of Mobile, houses destroyed, whole neighborhoods, in fact. But a year later I vacationed in a newly rebuilt Gulf Shores. Mobile had likewise recovered.
You can name many other coastal cities that recovered from hurricanes in a reasonable amount of time. Why, of all American cities, has New Orleans failed to help itself? Why is New Orleans alone sitting back and waiting for someone to come in and help it? Why, after more money has been dumped into it than was spent on Europe in the Marshall Plan, are they still begging America to rescue them? Why is Mississippi, which got hit by the same storm, going about its business and not whining about not getting enough federal help?
Anyone who has ever been there (and I’ve visited the place five or six times) knows there was always a putrid decay underlying the glitz of Bourbon Street. City leaders were always blase about crime, unless it threatened to hurt tourism. Corruption is a way of life in Louisiana, which often more resembles a Third World country than an American state. You can’t blame it on lack of assistance. That’s not it. Don’t be surprised when you find that most of this money has simply disappeared.