Another Transplanted Southerner

Musings from Miz Mel'nie, a Southern Belle living in the Northeast.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


"I'm glad I wasn't there and terrified I never will be again. "
- Josh Levin

Mourning My New Orleans
Our family has lived there for a century. Where will we go now?
By Josh Levin
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, at 1:23 PM PT

Very good quote about New Orleans. I feel the same way. I spent three years there. It can just never be the same.

If it does get rebuilt, and I have doubts about that because common sense may prevail over the longings of the heart, there will always be that divide, before Katrina and after Katrina. Although it seems like the flooding after the hurricane caused the worst property damage (so far - but what else could happen), that name will always be associated with this combo disaster.

New Orleans is the most beautiful city in the world. Its architecture is legendary, and the tropical climate provides an abundance of colorful and unusual plants and animals. The people eat animals I'd never even heard of before I arrived. The palmetto bugs freak out the newcomers, but they just get used to them like everyone else does. It withstood the Civil War, the 1915 hurricane, Betsy and Camille, and everything else I can't recall offhand, with grace and dignity, and also with a party-girl streak that no one could beat. The welcoming, friendly, laid-back nature of its inhabitants is not just because of its location in the South, but also because it's just too hot and humid to exert the effort to move fast or be an asshole. It now looks like and has the atmosphere of a very wet war zone.

I don't know whether it should be rebuilt. Although after Camille, Gulfport and Biloxi and other areas were rebuilt, the situation is different for New Orleans. Back when New Orleans was first inhabited and developed, it was small, just the Vieux Carre, and it was on relatively high ground - it was above sea level. As it grew, it spread out into areas that were below sea level. It is also sinking, pushing down even further below sea level. It seems like they have to repave the roads constantly. Some roads are impassable because of the unstable ground, and there are potholes everywhere. Gulfport and Biloxi, on the other hand, are above sea level. New Orleans is in a cereal bowl with two huge bodies of water to the north and south, and it is in a known hurricane path. It is hot and it is humid. In winter. It is unbearable and, in my opinion, uninhabitable in the summer. If you were going to build a city, would you choose to build it knowing all that? New Orleans evolved slowly over time, from a village above the Mississippi River, to a ceral bowl surrounded by walls of water. I don't think that's a good geographical location to place a large population.

But I love New Orleans. And I'm glad I'm not there.