Are we seeing the beginning of a new diaspora, a group of self-identified ex-patriots from the Crescent City? What stories will rise from the sorrows and anguish of this event? How will these people carry the culture of New Orleans with them?
I think, inevitably, this is so. The Big Easy will rise again, Americans are loathe to accept defeat or failure and to leave the city in ruins would be both. Still, it will be a New New Orleans. Her citizens will comprise of some Family - those whose roots stretch back to French trappers, some Soul - the artists who wish to recapture the spirit, the music, the food, the ineffable, and some Heart - the entrepenuers who will rebuild a vigorous seaport vital for the nation.
The Family, Soul and Heart will not be comprised wholly or even mostly of former residents. Business men, lawyers, engineers, painters, preachers, musicians will flock to rebuild her. Some will return to homes they fled, but the challenge to restore her to glory will be those with a new vision not the heartsick whose hope was washed away.
So what of those who will establish a new life elsewhere? This is the Diaspora. They will adapt and bring with them traditions, language, music, recipes - a zydeco of peoples taking the fast and slow, the high and low all of thier new homes and incorporating it into the rhythms of Old New Orleans.
Why will she be rebuilt? Stratfor (via Decision '08) argues that the Cresent City must rise because of her port.
But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.
These folks make thier living assessing these matters so I would not bet money against it. I wonder though if it might be best to gamble on the Ports of South Louisiana and Baton Rouge. Already those ports, the other two sisters of the trinity that included the port of New Orleans, handled more tonnage than New Orleans. How cost prohibitive would it be to deepen to the river and support more traffic? Could Shreveport expand to handle the traffic not absorbed by S. Louisiana and Baton Rouge? I might be talking out my ear, but so vital a port in so precarious a situation, I would feel better with as small a national economic stake sitting in a bowl under Lake Ponchitrain. Tom Maguire thinks it'll be one of the political spectacle of our century.
Donald Sensing says that New Orleans must be rebuilt and quotes Ol' Tin Ear Hassert. Sensings final thoughts though are for the Soul of New Orleans and not it's industrial Heart.