The battle is joined
This is what happens when communications break down, and officials talk out of both sides of their mouths to appease constituents:
I will rebuild and nobody's going to tell me any different," Marchand said Thursday at a news conference called by the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, which does not want a sliver of debris hauled away without property owners' consent.
Emotionally, I understood the city council’s vote a month ago, when they vowed to bring back all areas of the city – even though it struck me as pretty unlikely. At the time, I saw that as the morally correct thing to say.
I think I was wrong.
Whether the position is morally or politically taken, encouraging people with what may very well be false hopes is causing far more harm than good... because there isn't going to be any money for those areas.
According to the NYTimes, the Louisiana Recovery Authority has already made it clear that funding to rebuild the lowest-lying parts of the city won't be coming:
In a little-noticed vote last month, the authority agreed not to spend money on rebuilding that does not conform to federal flood maps, which experts expect the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue shortly. Under those rules, all houses built in the lowest-lying areas would have to be elevated, a requirement that would add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost for each house and probably make it impossible for low-income families to rebuild.
The most damaged neighborhoods, including the Lower Ninth Ward, Gentilly and Lakeview, would be the most directly affected.
This does not mean those areas won’t be rebuilt at all. It means that property owners who don’t have enough personal funds to raise their home elevations will be shut out of their neighborhoods - and possibly the city - permanently.
That’s the real tragedy. Stopping the removal of every board doesn’t fix this, because it's not the real problem.
This conflict has been coming for months now, and what we're seeing are the early skirmishes in the latest - and perhaps last - Battle of New Orleans.