This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 28, 2005

New Orleans and Gulf Shores Census Will Drop

Katrina Job Help: The American Staffing Association is concentrating on helping workers displaced by the hurricane. One of the major job boards has established a special service for employers and employees at Your company can use the dot-jobs domain, too.

Understandably, attention to the impacts of Katrina is focused on the immediate conditions and the needs of the hundreds of thousands of people affected. The devastated communities will face serious long-term challenges with far-reaching implications.

The first is clean-up, including removing the health hazards caused directly and indirectly by the flooding. As a sense of normalcy returns, city engineers will be hard at work determining what structures are safe and what homes, businesses, schools, and other buildings must be razed because they are simply unsafe. Land use planners will face some hard decisions.

Local leaders will be challenged to return cities to the communities they once were, but that will be impossible. It makes no sense, for instance, to rebuild low income housing that doesn’t meet today’s standards. Building in dangerous areas, or re-creating neighborhoods populated by people struggling to survive, isn’t the best use of space. Looking in hindsight will influence thousands of tough decisions. New homes constructed on sites where heritage homes once stood will be an emotional roller-coaster…and a political football. Expect substantial changes in how New Orleans and other cities redevelop---including massive urban renewal that could only be made possible by the intensity of Hurricane Katrina.

The big story is what will not be rebuilt. A significant change will alter the affected areas dramatically. A large portion of the people who left the disaster area---particularly those who were treated shabbily by local rescue efforts---will resettle somewhere else in the country. They will not return to New Orleans, to Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama. There are too many memories and too few opportunities to truly advance in life. If attitudes of community leaders and employers do not change, conditions for people in the lower socio-economic levels of society will not change.

Thousands of people who lived on the edge will not return. For many disenfranchised citizens, Katrina means a fresh start with opportunities to establish themselves for who they are now, not for what their pasts have been. The 2010 census will show a lower count and a different demographic than might have been expected.

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