experiences during its field trip and from the remarks made by presenters and committee members at the workshop. They should not be interpreted as the final conclusions or recommendations of the committee, though the committee plans to draw on the material in this summary in preparing its final consensus report.


New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have had extensive experience with hurricanes. Yet, according to some measures, the resilience of these areas has declined in recent decades. Before Katrina, many areas of New Orleans were developed that were below sea level and vulnerable to flooding if levees were damaged or overtopped. Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, much new development occurred in areas susceptible to storm surge. Many new houses were built on concrete slabs at ground level, rather than being elevated, and typically used materials that were susceptible to damage from flooding. The vulnerability of housing increased the importance of shelters, but in New Orleans shelters were often in distant locations, and throughout the region many shelters proved to be inadequate. Hurricane Katrina also revealed many breakdowns in coordination and communications among governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

A major effort to measure the socioeconomic and demographic conditions of New Orleans since Katrina has shown that the city has rebounded since the hurricane. Wages in the city have risen 14 percent since 2005 and today are nearly at the national average. The economy has been diversifying and has added more jobs that require high levels of education. A greater percentage of students attend schools that meet state standards of quality than before Katrina.

However, several indicators point to continuing difficulties for the city. Major industries, including tourism, oil and gas, and shipping have declined in recent years. Not enough money is available to repair all of the damage caused by the storm. Income disparities remain stark among ethnic and racial groups and large areas of the city—along with many areas along the Mississippi Gulf Coast—remain vulnerable to future hazards and disasters.


During its bus and walking tour of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the committee saw many areas that had only partially recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Many building lots in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, for example, remain empty, and the population of the Lower Ninth has dropped from more than 17,000 before Katrina to 4,000 at most. However, substantial recovery efforts are also under way in the Lower Ninth and in other areas of the city that were decimated by the hurricane.

Along the Gulf Coast, the committee saw many other examples of scattered redevelopment in the midst of widespread devastation. In the community

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement