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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Can New Orleans get back to normal?
A woman surveys the damage to her home after the floods
Is life in New Orleans getting back to normal after Katrina?

School children went back to classes on Monday and thousands of residents have returned to the city in recent days after the areas least affected by flooding reopened.

The door-to-door search for victims has ended with officials saying the final death toll was 972 - smaller than the 10,000 initially feared.

Some 3,000 workers in the city, about half its workforce, have been sacked because the city was not earning enough revenue to keep them on the payroll.

Is enough being done to rebuild New Orleans? Were you affected by Katrina? Have you lost your job? Or is life getting back to normal for you? Send us your comments and experiences.

Do you have any pictures of residents returning home or the aftermath? If so, you can send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comment reflect the balance of opinion received so far:

Eventually, New Orleans will regain some semblance of normalcy
Jeff, Macon, GA, USA
My town has taken in a number of evacuees. Some are being kept at an old train station downtown. Others are staying at a school next to a church. A large number of kids from Louisiana have enrolled in Macon schools. Many evacuees think that Macon schools are 'palaces' compared to those in Louisiana - they have libraries and gyms - and Macon schools are not America's finest by any stretch of the imagination. I expect that eventually, New Orleans will regain some semblance of normalcy, but this is a lot like San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Fires destroyed half the city and it took at least five years for that city to fully recover. I expect the same for New Orleans.
Jeff, Macon, GA, USA

After hurricane Hazel hit Toronto in 1954, it devastated the city and killed over 80 people. Although this was the only hurricane to hit Toronto in recent history, Toronto did not allow the rebuilding of homes and businesses in low lying areas and changed building codes. Spending billions to rebuild low lying areas of "the sinking city below sea level" of New Orleans and strengthening the levees to withstand stronger hurricanes is foolish. Spend the money on the areas that make sense and use the rest of the money to rebuild in other areas of LA.
M Guenther, Toronto, Canada

New Orleans will never "get back" to normal, rather New Orleans will find a new normal and carry on with a new unique style of its very own! The "new" New Orleans will encompass a warm and touching spirit of determination and perseverance! Welcome to "new" New Orleans, Louisiana!
Keryn Paul, Papillion, Nebraska, USA

Our apartment complex parking lot is now filled with cars from Louisiana. Our grocery store lots are filled with cars from Louisiana. Our upstairs neighbours are from Louisiana. All left during Katrina. The family upstairs has small children, just as we do. They have new jobs, new childcare, a new place to live. They were sadly uprooted, but given the ages of their children and the risk of leaving newly-found jobs, I think it is highly unlikely that they'll return. It is very important that our nation think clearly, rationally, and respectfully in regards to rebuilding New Orleans. If it is rebuilt, which I think should be fully discussed, then it should be rebuilt with the best intentions, not as a Disneyfied, super-clean, insanely overpriced corporate playground. The well-being of the entire nation is at stake here. The President's plan to draw from other government agencies to pay for this may send the entire nation into a tailspin (as if we weren't already in one) if it causes millions to lose their already-fragile healthcare. Frankly, this is going to take a great deal of wisdom, forethought, planning, and common sense from an administration that has shown repeatedly that it has none.
Elsa, Austin, Texas

The levees need to be made larger, taller and stronger
Brad, Chicago, USA
New Orleans should not go back to normal. Normal was not good enough. The situation in New Orleans should be put on a normal footing while the city development project vastly improves the infrastructure. Whole suburbs need to be relocated. The levees need to be made larger, taller and stronger. The quality of the housing needs to be improved. Perhaps New Orleans will lose some of its character and heritage, but it will always have its soul, and that's a good thing.
Brad, Chicago, USA

For a few weeks, all will appear to return to normal but slowly members of the poorer communities will return and will be left with nowhere to go. With the city "safe" they will have no government support, but they will have no homes to go back to. Most have no insurance or savings to allow them to rebuild. As the poorer people return to the city, with nothing to loose and nothing to live for, we will see a new wave of lawlessness, many times worse than the ones during the flooding.
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK

The disaster should never have happened in the first place. It was simple common sense that New Orleans needed better protection against flood waters and extreme weather. The problem was, once again, the lack of sufficient pieces of printed paper (money). That was the only scarce commodity standing in the way of a safer, more prosperous, healthier, New Orleans community. When will politicians realize that greater prosperity can be achieved by means of providing improved infra structure, using readily available resources, simply by making certain that there is enough money in the system to allow for that much real economic growth.
John Holmes, Canada

My aunt and uncle's house, which had water up to the roof, has already been stripped down, dried being rebuilt. New Orleans will probably never be what it was, but I think a much better city will come out of it. To Mr. Carter, I find it odd someone from the Los Angeles area would place doubt in the reasons for rebuilding one of the oldest cities in the United States because of one hurricane.
Jason Harris, Dallas, Tx

People outside of the US may not be aware that the risk to New Orleans and that region has been discussed publicly every hurricane season for decades
Michael, Calif, US
With the U.S. spending a record amount of money and effort, I would say that more than enough effort is being spent to rebuild New Orleans. People outside of the U.S. may not be aware that the risk to New Orleans and that region has been discussed publicly every hurricane season for decades, so none of this comes as a surprise to the American public. Encouraging people to return to "the city below sea level" is often viewed as irrational or even irresponsible, and many of the relocated victims claim on TV to be happier now and do not plan to return. Perhaps now that the hysteria has calmed down we can ask the more serious questions and get rational answers. New Orleans will survive, but more importantly, the affected individuals will survive and prosper wherever they go.
Michael, Calif, USA

A nation which invented powered flight and 65 years later sent men to the moon, split the atom, and taught the world to build skyscrapers can rebuild New Orleans and all of the hurricane devastated areas in the relatively short time span of a decade or so, especially giving America's vast wealth. Whether or not that is a smart thing to do is another question entirely and a lot of people will be taking a long hard look at that issue to find an answer.
Mark, USA

New Orleans was normal?
Chris Wilson, Lithia USA

I don't think that New Orleans will get back to normal, unless the residents will be reciting what happened repeatedly so the fear is off. The American management are all to blame for not averting this crisis that would have a long lasting impact on the citizens. Please management, manage and cushion the security of your people.
Abdelhameed , Benghazi - Libya

Sure New Orleans will be rebuilt. Only this time around it should be done by Disney and Universal studios. It will be called New Orleans Under Water Land, or the New Atlantis Aquatic Park. Everything will be under water and the venue will serve as both a theme park and a museum.
Katsuo Tataki, Kochi Japan

If people want to, New Orleans could get back to normal but, is it likely? Time will tell, the city has been wasted and people have left and many will probably not go back, and in my personal opinion, New Orleans location makes it more trouble then its worth, but, you cant put a price on a person's home and memories, so only time will tell.
Steve, Scotland, UK

More money is being spent on New Orleans, both in per capita and in total, than any city in U.S. history. This on top of the $12.000 spent per capita by the federal government's various poverty programs. All U.S. taxpayers, and many recipients of U.S. foreign aid, will feel the negative impact of all this debt. And when the money is all spent, New Orleans will still be below the water level of the river and the two lakes which ring the city. History will prove that the U.S. spent too much on a city built in an irrational location. But it will be spent.
Michael, Calif, USA

There is so much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street and the Lower 9th Ward. We had a unique culture all our own. It was a colorful and worthy community...and will be again. How dare your pretentious readers suggest that my beautiful city should not be rebuilt? Yes, we have our poor, but so does New York and Washington D.C. No one would suggest that they are not worth existing and supporting. Be careful that you do not base your opinions solely on what the media reports. You can come across as sounding quite ignorant. As for us in New Orleans, we will continue to rebuild, with or without your help. I'm happy to report that we will most likely be moving back home in November, thanks to our supporting local community.
Kirche, Slidell, LA

I think it is disgusting that the city of New Orleans is laying off workers
Karen Jones, Sheffield
I think it is disgusting that the city of New Orleans is laying off workers. How will the city get back to normal if so many of the workforce are unemployed? Why can't the federal government provide enough funds for the city to keep these workers on its payroll?
Karen Jones, Sheffield

The last people who should have a say in the rebuilding are those in the local government. They are responsible for the mess leading into the storm. The good news is that many of the employees being laid off are ghosts. About 200 of the cops that "deserted" during the storm did not actually exist. Two years ago, 300 fake employees were let go from the school system.
T Kooney, Slidell LA , USA

It is shameful that the Federal government is hiring out of state firms to rebuild New Orleans, when those from the neighbourhood are let go. That's the government for you! Knowing Bush, I suppose the best plan of action is to just stay the course!
Llord Citesworthy, St.Albans

New Orleans had its faults, but it is a beautiful city and can be again
John, NJ, USA
New Orleans had its faults, but it is a beautiful city and can be again. I have been there several times and have friends who live there. The only concern I have is "if" necessary funds will be provided, and more importantly, spent "properly" to truly protect the City from future hurricanes. Real corruption and incompetence in all areas needs to be addressed and corrected before the city really has a real chance, otherwise it will just be a disaster waiting to happen "again."
John, NJ, USA

New Orleans can get back to normal, as well as Venice. Ask a Dutch institute for the protection of tidal and storm waves, that suits the available funds and man-power. The infra-structure will then develop in due time.
Henk Yserman, Callander GB

We returned home to Algiers section of New Orleans City, which suffered little hurricane damage and no floods. Electricity, drinking water, sewage, telephones, cable, post office, banks and many shops are open; clearing the debris is in full swing and traffic is congested. Most have lost their jobs; some have taken new ones in other cities or States, the rest are feverishly searching.

Suburbs like Algiers are bed-sitting communities and the central business district is the heart. If the major businesses, especially conventions and tourism, colleges and schools do not open soon, the city would wither away. Or, barely subsist as ghost of its former self. Strengthening of the levy system to withstand Level 5 hurricanes or a radical remodelling of the city may be necessary before businesses would risk their capital, professionals their future and people their lives.
Thiruvengadam Ramakrishnan, New Orleans, La 70131

Bush has given the usual suspects no-bid contracts while vowing to pay "whatever it costs" to repair New Orleans. The same people who have been caught overcharging us in Iraq have been given another blank check. So the city will get back to normal well before the nation as a whole recovers from the unbelievable debt being created by Bush and his friends.
Jim, NJ, USA

Why would anybody want it to be "normal" again? Like the previous comments, this city was stricken with poverty, corruption, and high unemployment. I would like to see New Orleans rebuilt to become a new city, far different from the New Orleans we know. How could this be funded? I'm sure it would be easier if we didn't have to spend billions on our military and Iraq. What a waste.
Heather Lynn, Virginia Beach, VA, United States

If "normal" was suffering for the poor, it already sounds like business as usual to me. The new laws restricting worker protections serve corporations like Halliburton that get the rebuilding contracts, and do nothing to help the ordinary people who have to live and work there. It will only increase their hardship. I'd stay away.
Matt, Riverside, CA

It was a bad situation to begin with and everyone knew it. Are we going to set it up all over again?
Gary Walker, Evansville, IN
Why are we sinking more money into New Orleans? How much money would it take to make it safe? When it floods again are we going to pay for it all over again? It would be a politically correct and dumb thing to do. It was a bad situation to begin with and everyone knew it. Are we going to set it up all over again?
Gary Walker, Evansville, IN

It would seem we treat our own people like we do to the rest of the world. Can you believe a city in America can lay off its workers, and cannot get the government of that country to help, when it spends billions of dollars to suppress and control other countries? Do you need an answer to "is enough being done"? I fear the answer should be we are a silly and simple people to let us get ourselves into this situation.
Brian Sivers, Astoria Oregon usa

Who cares? As Barbara Bush pointed out, these people are better off living in the Astrodome anyway. The important thing is to make sure that Bush's promise to rebuild Trent Lott's house with federal tax dollars is taken care of!
Amanda, Minneapolis, USA

One cannot claim that 'enough' is being done to rebuild New Orleans unless through flood management and flood mitigation analysis is incorporated into all plans for rebuilding. Experts in flood mitigation from around the world (especially note the work done in Holland in this area) must be consulted and sophisticated analyses performed prior to the implementation of any coordinated rebuilding plan.
Shekhar, Edison, NJ US

I was surprised to see the report saying that more than 50% of those who had evacuated said they would give up the place. Living in a disaster-rich country, I have seen so many people suffering from consequences from earthquakes and typhoons, but they always tried so hard to reconstruct their places to get things back normal. Sticking to the affected areas obviously needs lots of patience, but with various help from government and other communities it is not impossible. So when they say they will abandon New Orleans, that might mean they haven't receive enough help.
T Nakata, Yokohama, japan

Rebuild what is needed and relocate the rest to safer areas, and better lives
John Howard, Anderson, IN, USA
Rebuilding of the city of New Orleans should be done by those benefiting from the rebuilding on a benefit vs. cost basis. Private citizens, businesses, non profits and local and State governments as they see fit. Not a knee jerk politically motivated government huge money wasting program. Will the Federal government become the largest most inefficient insurance agency in the world? Will they rebuild each community after every natural disaster? If not, then how can they do it just for New Orleans? Many of the houses and those that lived in them and many businesses are not essential for the USA. Rebuild what is needed and relocate the rest to safer areas, and better lives.
John Howard, Anderson, IN, USA

New Orleans is still a disaster waiting to happen. Let's hope it's about 100 feet higher above sea level. Few companies are going to be willing to make any meaningful investment in the area, bringing jobs and opportunities, with the threat that they can lose it all with another storm like Katrina.
Travis , Fort Worth,TX

Life in New Orleans will settle down to some kind of routine eventually - a "new normal"-which almost has to be better than the old one. City employees had to know that the city couldn't keep paying them with little population to serve and no revenue. But there is plenty of work for those who want it. A fast food restaurant is is offering 6,000 dollar signing bonuses for people to flip burgers in New Orleans now. Most of the business trying to start back up in the city are limited primarily by lack of labour.
Kurt, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

It's sad to see people getting fired from there jobs when they themselves are trying to get back into life. Could they work for little amounts of money till they could be raised back up to what they were making? How are they going to make it throgh this ordeal now?!
Colin, West Kilbride: UK

I feel sorry for the city employees who lost their jobs, but their plight is not unique. Their employers, the city taxpayers, are also without livelihoods and will have to rebuild too. No city can really afford to employ people who have nothing to do, least of all in a disaster zone.
Sue, New Jersey, USA

New Orleans is below sea level. It is on a major river. The natural environmental buffers that diffused the effect of hurricanes have been destroyed for development. With the current administration of the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the in Washington D.C., things look grim for New Orleans and for us all.
Susan, Ann Arbor, USA

I trust the people to rebuild their lives. New Orleans is an icon in America and will have a new future a bit different maybe, but will be a good one and good luck to the good people who stood up to the difficult times
Ahmad Hmoud, Jordan/Swindon UK

There is little reason for many to return when the only thing left is a fading memory
Brian Coon, Rochester, NY, USA
Many refugees of Katrina were the poor on public assistance. These people didn't have the money for transportation to get out of New Orleans before the hurricane; most do not own their homes and they do not buy flood insurance. There is little reason for many to return when the only thing left is a fading memory. The layoffs from the city of New Orleans should not come as a surprise when many residents have already lost so much.
Brian Coon, Rochester, NY, USA

I simply do not understand why the City of New Orleans is laying off its employees right now. Can't these civil servants help coordinate and institute the reconstruction plans? Must all of the reconstruction work be contracted out to companies from outside the city and state? Don't local politicians understand that this plan witholds money from the people who need it most (their constituents), and provides money (much of it tax-free) to the people who need it least? Am I the only one outraged?
Nicholas, Washington DC, USA

Do we really want to rebuild a city in a location 7ft below sea level at the mouth of a major river? Add to this the corruption and ineptitude of the city government and police department. The money could be better spent elsewhere.
Bill Carter, Los Angeles, California

Normal? I hope not. New Orleans was a poverty-blighted, corrupt and totally disfunctional city beyond the tourist's theme park of the French Quarter and Garden District. Hopefully many of the evacuees will find new lives, jobs and hope in their temporary and maybe permanent new homes. I suspect the city will lose permanently 100,000 residents and that's a good thing. For them.
Peter C Kohler, Washington DC USA

If the rebuilding of New Orleans follows the familiar American pattern, greed will be the keynote. The older homes in which the less affluent have lived for generations will be torn down and replaced with new homes priced well up in the six figures so that they will be affordable only by yuppies and the nouveau riche. Too bad! With its rich cultural traditions, its history, and its style of living, the older section of New Orleans was one of the last remaining places in America where people could live a "genteel poor" existence and not feel impoverished.
Phil, Clarkston, Georgia USA

It is a disgrace that local workers who have most suffered as a result of the hurricane have been sacked in favour of private contracts to companies that have contributed funds to Republicans.
Dryden Liddle, USA

I have visited New Orleans and my hope if I return is that it is a changed city from the one I visited several years ago. I truly love many large old cities in the south but this one gives you the feeling that it is not really a city where people live and thrive and find joy of family. It gives you much the same feeling that Las Vegas would feel like if it were not kept clean - seedy and fake.
Diana Downey, Rochester Hills Mi USA

A lot of bad things did happen here, but so did a lot of good things
E C Nissen, New Orleans, LA, USA
I stayed during Katrina and I will be here after the cleanup has been completed. This is my home. Yes, a lot of bad things did happen here, but so did a lot of good things. Such as strangers helping each other in their time of need. I just want the world to know not everyone in New Orleans is a criminal.
E C Nissen, New Orleans, LA, USA

Having a city called "the big easy" tells you a bit of its character. Bourbon Street is for the tourists and it was idolized. The rest of the city where the residents lived was ignored and forgotten. I sincerely hope the funds get into the hands of those who lost jobs, homes and families enabling them to rebuild wherever they deem best for them. And it may not be New Orleans! The city ignored the plight of its most needy.
Penny, USA

New Orleans is a different place to live. However I think it will get back, but not to normal. The mayor and Gov. should step aside. It is clear that they are in over their head. New Orleans has its faults like any other city in the world. However, this is a chance to improve the status for everyone. Yes New Orleans will come back, but I hope not to the norm, but better then before.
Barbara, New York, USA

Since Rome was not built in a day, it will take a while for things to get back on track. The damage is enormous and it will take a long time to rebuild the city no matter the amount of resources available. Although I wasn't affected by Katrina but I do remember them in my prayers. May God comfort them.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Hopefully not. I used to live in New Orleans and although it is a very interesting place to visit, it is a very depressing place to live. Poverty was visible at all corners, corruption ran rampant, high unemployment and an above average crime rate. This is New Orleans chance to rebuild a better city for all their people. Billions of dollars are about to be spent on rebuilding their city. Let's hope it's spent wisely.
Rob, Kansas City, USA

Hopefully it will not return to the way it was. The black majority lived in poverty while the tourist areas thrived. Perhaps some thought should go into how New Orleans should be rebuilt.
Todd, Virginia, USA

Can New Orleans get back to normal? Of course. It is hurricane country from the Texas to the Maine coast and areas affected always return back to normal. It's not like we just started getting hurricanes.
Allen, CA, America

As long as we choose to maintain the current administration there is no chance things will get back to normal. That includes other nations as well as our own.
Kaye, NYC, USA


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