Short Breather Between Storms

by Young Che on September 6, 2008

As we deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, which fortunately didn’t wreak the havoc it could have on the city of New Orleans. We are all very thankful that Gustav made landfall far enough west of the city not to devastate us again. Keep our neighbors who absorbed this impact in your prayers. As for New Orleanians, there are several nagging questions that arise as a result and one of them is “how long can we continue like this as a city?”

Mandatory evacuations as a way of life is hardly sustainable for a city the size of New Orleans. It is a challenge that we were able to rise to this time but what happens when we get tired of running year after year then we set ourselves up for Katrina part 2. Most of the people I talked to said that if Gustav would have hit New Orleans and caused major flooding or damage to their homes that they were definitely not coming back. I have to say that I share this sentiment. The thought of having to rebuild your life from nothing on a regular basis is mind numbing to say the least. My wife says this is the last year she wants to deal with stress associated with forced evacuations.

We are definitely situated in a pretty vulnerable spot. We are sitting in a saucer surrounded by water on all sides. We have to take each threat seriously because each one represents what could be a life and death decision. If you are committed to calling New Orleans home then you have to come up with your own contingency plans for storm season. If you aren’t committed to being proud to call New Orleans home then you had better rethink your decision to live here. Every storm brings its own grocery list of problems to consider and actions to take. Gustav has taught me a valuable lesson that I thought I’d learned from Katrina: New Orleans is a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there!

More than anything else it highlights the necessity of maintaining a house in more than one city especially if you want one of them to be in New Orleans. Its the same as putting all of your eggs in one basket. For as great the city is overall it may be some time before it is the type of place you can call home without second guessing yourself on a regular basis. Maintaining a house in more than one city means that your income has to grow accordingly to enable you to pull it off. This is the price associated with calling New Orleans home. The cost of living down here is already astronomical considering the increased home owners’ insurance, taxes, utilities and groceries (when you include price of gas for travelling further to reach a store). To continue calling New Orleans home you have to make double what you would make in Houston, Dallas or Atlanta for a debatably lower quality of life.

This post is far from completely objective considering I’m living through this decision making process. I’ve walked through houses in other metro areas where you definitely get more house for the buck and when you make adjustments for school tuition (you can’t really send your kids to the public school experiments in New Orleans) and other costs associated with living in New Orleans its hard to justify the choice to stay.

For me it’s a no brainer, sort of. I love living in New Orleans but I hate being stuck in New Orleans. Before Hurricane Katrina we suffered from brain drain in New Orleans but now its an even more daunting task staying in New Orleans. Any day now the decision to hold onto New Orleans as your primary residence can prove to be the biggest mistake of your life. We will have to maintain two addresses, one in New Orleans and one in another city that doesn’t deal with the constant threat of hurricanes and mandatory evacuations. If I’m going to continue calling New Orleans home it will definitely be on a part time basis.

In the meantime the residents of New Orleans are currently preparing for our next threat which goes by the name of Hurricane Ike

5-day track

5-day track

. I’m sure you’ve heard how Ike used to beat Tina. We can only hope that this storm doesn’t take after its namesake. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on our decision to at least build a second life (not virtual) somewhere else as part of our storm preparedness plan.

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