The non partisan group Levees.org has just released new data that squarely addresses the question of whether metro New Orleans should be rebuilt.
The new data is important because after the Army Corps of Engineers' levees failed during Katrina, the survivors were marginalized and labeled irresponsible for depending on levees. Many suggested that improving the levee system was a poor investment of federal funds and would encourage living in dangerous areas.
For these reasons, Levees.org commissioned a geographer to analyze data that we recently attained from FEMA in a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The results are rather fascinating.
As reported by Mark Schleifstein in the New Orleans Times Picayune, the data and robust analysis shows that all across the nation, total productivity and personal incomes are greater and poverty is less in the counties with levees.
While those levees don't necessarily protect all the people living in the 881 counties that have them, a study for Levees.org by geographer Ezra Boyd concludes that the levees more than pay for themselves when their cost is compared to the investment they protect.
While the study does not answer all questions for all states for all people, it shows that much more scrutiny should take place before declaring that Greater New Orleans should be forgotten.
Click here for article by reporter and Pulitzer prize winning author Mark Schleifstein. (As evident from the large number of comments, this data has already engendered a flood of discussion.)