To Build or Not to Build

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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In the summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina unleashed what resulted in a widespread devastation wreaked on the city of New Orleans. New Orleans—the colorful, zealous Mississippi Delta city, home to world-renowned restaurants, jazz and blues’ clubs, and universities, saw many of its neighborhoods flooded, even washed away by Katrina’s strong waters that breached the barrier of its levees. The extent of this catastrophe has triggered fierce debate over how the city should be rebuilt; taking into consideration the city’s population shift, economic emergency, and continued below sea-level vulnerability.

Actually, there are some who think that the potential for a similar disaster in the future begs the question whether the city should be rebuilt at all. I personally believe that New Orleans deserves to be rebuilt. As stated before, the continued below sea-level vulnerability is one of the major issues taken into consideration when debating whether or not to rebuild the city. Some may argue that the river that flooded New Orleans is a savage, untamable beast; aloof and unappeasable, with no heart except for its own task (Document A).

However, the city has fought its mighty river for generations. The river is simply part of the New Orleans heritage, and is simply nothing new to its residents. This river is the same river that helped impregnate and vitalize the soil of early settlers. The austere beauty of the river itself is in fact too grand to be forgotten; and too awe striking to be completely omitted from New Orleans’ history and then categorized into a monster whose damage is underserving of man’s repair.

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Normally when tourists or first-time residents come to New Orleans, they have a difficult time understanding the city. Even a prolonged stay brings no easy recognition or familiarity. New Orleans history of different cultures, ethnicities and traditions that can help explain the city's atmosphere. You can say that diversity is birthed out of this bustling city’s loins. From jazz to rock and roll, Creole cooking, Mardi Gras, or the architecture of the French Quarter, all play as elements of New Orleans (Document B).

All of these elements possess an astounding liveliness that has spoken to people around the world and shaped much of the best of what we think of still as American culture. Though many may argue that it is nearly impossible to recreate traditions that have been deracinated by the unfortunate inevitable, it is safe to say that it is not the St. Louis Cathedral, nor Jackson Square, nor King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band that makes the city the landmark that it is. It is the spirit of vigor and robustness that lies in the city streets that drives the indescribable, potent energy its visitors and residents feel daily.

The same spirit that the people had was present as they confronted Katrina. Peering into the eye of the storm, this spirit faced the storm unafraid; knowing the storm would potentially consume their past and future, New Orleans’ present spirit is stronger than the storm (Document D). To the people who possess this type of spirit, having faith is an understatement. New Orleans should be rebuilt because its culture is more than just for the “tourists’ eye”. The city represents antiquity. It represents some sort of security.

It represents home. Not only does the city represent home for many, it also has a present national commercial value. Its ports are continuously a pulse-point for commerce in Iowa and the rest of the country. Many argue that the levee system is ineffective, and will not be intact for possibly another twenty years or so. Therefore, why rebuild a city when there is a chance that another disaster will strike again, and there is nothing in the government’s economic interest to help prevent future predicaments? Document C) Yes—the opposing side holds a nearly infallible argument. However, one must consider the billions of dollars’ worth of work put into these ports. Yes, economically New Orleans is suffering. But the future of the nation’s economy as a whole can be in grave jeopardy if commerce is discontinued. New Orleans must be rebuilt. Shortage of ideas on how to rebuild the city is no issue; but rather the dedication to get it done. In closing, urban recovery is more than just putting bricks and cement together, mortar and asphalt, or bytes and electricity.

It is about reconstructing the innumerable social relations entrenched in schools, workplaces, childcare, arrangements, shops, places of worship, and places of play and recreation. It is not about restoring New Orleans’ authenticity. It is about preparing an atmosphere that is welcoming and accommodated enthusiastically to former residents (Document E). New Orleans may never look exactly the same ever again. But its people deserve to feel the way they first felt about the city when they first encountered it; and how can you place a price upon falling in love?

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To Build or Not to Build. (2017, Dec 08). Retrieved from

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