When you talk to some residents along the Louisiana coast about rebuilding after Katrina, they’ll say it almost doesn’t matter if you rebuild the area unless its protected from another storm — and like many things, that hinges on money.
The legislature came up with a $50 billion master plan for coastal restoration to take care of projects like rehabbing the wetlands, which act as a natural storm barrier. But the plan is about $20 billion short in funding.
Mark Schleifstein covers the coast and environment for nola.com, the Times-Picayune website. In 2002, he predicted what a storm like Katrina could do to the city in a piece called “The Big One.” In it, he wrote: “A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It’s just a matter of time.”
He outlines the importance of coastal restoration in his recent story “New Orleans’ future depends on coastal restoration, but where’s the money?”
Those demands are the ones the state Legislature has recognized by supporting the state’s Master Plan, a $50 billion, 50-year outline that split its proposed resources between coastal restoration and flood protection.
But even state officials acknowledge they picked the $50 billion price tag because that’s the most they believed the state could raise in the first 50 years. Inflation alone has increased that price, some say, and combined with delays in the most significant projects — including major Mississippi and Atchafalaya river diversions — has likely raised the cost to at least $100 billion.
Just where is all this money going to come from? That’s a key question for the future of New Orleans and most of the region.
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