Journal article Open Access

Longer View: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans

Olshansky, Robert B.; Johnson, Laurie A.; Horne, Jedidiah; Nee, Brendan


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    <subfield code="c">2008-07-30</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">Problem: Catastrophic disasters like
Hurricane Katrina disrupt urban systems,
economies, and lives, and pose huge problems
for local governments and planners
trying to organize and finance reconstruction
as quickly and effectively as possible.
Purpose: This article aims to summarize
the key planning challenges New Orleans
faced following the August 29, 2005 flooding
in order to identify lessons planners can
apply following future disasters.
Methods: In this case study we sought to
observe key decisions about the recovery as
they unfolded. Collectively, we spent months
in New Orleans in 2005, 2006, and 2007,
and interviewed leaders of all the planning
efforts to date. One of us played a lead role in
the design and execution of the Unified New
Orleans Plan (UNOP), and all observed
and/or participated in neighborhood-level
planning activities.
Results and conclusions: We agree with
previous findings on post-disaster recovery,
confirming the importance of previous plans,
citizen involvement, information infrastructure,
and external resources. We also observe
that the recovery of New Orleans might
have proceeded more effectively in spite of
the inherent challenges in post-Katrina New
Orleans. Many local difficulties are a result
of the slow flow of federal reconstruction
funding. Despite this, the city administration
also could have taken a more active leadership
role in planning and information
management earlier; the city's Office of
Recovery Management has since improved
this. On the positive side, the Louisiana
Recovery Authority has been a model worth
emulating by other states.
Takeaway for practice: Planning can
inform actions as both proceed simultaneously. Had New Orleans planners not felt so
compelled to complete plans quickly, they
might have been more effective at providing
reasoned analysis over time to support
community actions and engaging a broader
public in resolving difficult questions of
restoration versus betterment. A center for
collecting and distributing data and news
would have better informed all parties; this
remains an important need.
Keywords: recovery planning, New
Orleans, disaster planning
Research support: We received support
from the Mid-America Earthquake Center,
the Public Entity Risk Institute, and the New
Orleans Community Support Foundation.</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">Johnson, Laurie A.</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">10.1080/01944360802140835</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">Longer View: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans</subfield>
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