The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans

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As a result, we sacrificed the opportunity to define our own agenda—one based on the ideals of personal autonomy and equality under the law, and that stands up for communities marginalized by discriminatory laws and institutions. To give credit where it is due, libertarians have begun to take issues of privilege seriously through causes like criminal justice and occupational licensing reform. But at the same time, libertarian and conservative groups have advocated for policies like drug testing benefit recipients and imposing stricter work and asset test requirements.

New Orleans weather: Flooding hits Louisiana as possible hurricane looms - live updates - CBS News

Supporters of work requirements would do themselves a favor by studying how they actually work in practice. Rather than being a tool to help families climb out of poverty, they often force recipients to take jobs with little opportunity for advancement to maintain their eligibility for assistance. Under TANF, for example, many parents are barred from counting attendance in a GED program toward their 20 hours of average weekly work.

This actively discourages building skills for long-term career advancement, which might explain why conservative scholars who originally supported of the reform—from Christopher Jencks to Peter Germanis —have had quite public changes of heart. As a block grant, TANF was conceived to embody the libertarian virtue of federalism by giving states broad discretion in how money is spent. However, its structure was easily gamed and turned into a slush fund for state discretionary spending.

New Orleans after Katrina: A tale of two cities

This often includes things having little to do with welfare, like marriage counseling and scholarship money for upper middle class families. Asset tests have also not worked as intended. And, as he notes , TANF is not built to support mobility:. In other words, streamlining programs and liberalizing asset tests could actually make markets adjust better by reducing residency requirements and letting households save up for big life changes.

Libertarians are typically skilled at identifying the unintended consequences of paternalistic government regulation. The absence of a positive libertarian agenda on poverty and welfare besides the calls to abolish the welfare state entirely and leave charity to pick up the slack dates back to the Reagan-era coalition that brought free market liberals and social conservatives under one tent. Nonetheless, the alliance is due to break down. Whether through a basic income guarantee or a universal child allowance, the best evidence shows that robust safety nets can cut poverty while encouraging the kinds of risk taking and entrepreneurship that lead to innovation, investment in human capital , and growth.

Poverty is not only a matter of material deprivation. It is also an affront to personal autonomy and equal dignity. No matter what your ideology, twenty years after the signing of the welfare law, the evidence is clear: TANF is no model. Why Does All This Matter? Progressive proposals included expanded childcare assistance, paid leave, and tax credits for working families. Conservatives, on the other hand, tended to favor punitive work requirements —without any of the corresponding investments to address barriers to employment. But too often, the narrative stops there, ignoring significant failings in the program that surfaced after the economy slowed down.

A block grant is essentially a pot of money that the federal government gives to state governments to administer a program subject to federal guidelines. One of the key limitations of block grants is that they can lose value over time. As a result, it has lost more than one-third of its value since , leaving fewer low-income families able to access the help they need. Fewer than one in four families with children living below the federal poverty line are helped by TANF today—down from more than two-thirds in Another major limitation is that block grants are unable to respond to economic downturns.

As a result, just 1 out of every 4 TANF dollars goes to income assistance for poor families with kids—policymakers, the public, and the media lack even the most basic information on where the rest of the funds go. Not well. Conservatives claim the law gives states flexibility, but states face stiff constraints when it comes to helping participants prepare for and find work. Great question. In total, Speaker Ryan has called for ending 11 antipoverty programs —including housing assistance, food assistance, and child care—and combining them into a single block grant.

Just like TANF, the funding would be fixed—making it woefully unresponsive to recessions or changes in the unemployment rate. Requiring states to spend even half of TANF funds on these priorities would ensure that more families get the help they need.


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The higher end of those totals would rival the rainfall some areas received during the devastating floods near Baton Rouge. And, more worryingly, the storm surge could raise the Mississippi as high as 20 feet, according to forecasters. That would be above the levees in many parts of the metro area and swamp the barriers in lower Plaquemines Parish. Edit Article Add New Article. Toggle navigation. Close 1 of 5. Buy Now. Flooding, severe storms hit New Orleans: See photos, videos of street flooding, waterspouts. New Orleans underwater: Photos, videos show heavy flooding as rain inundates area.

Your notification has been saved. There was a problem saving your notification. Manage followed notifications. Close Followed notifications. Please log in to use this feature Log In. Don't have an account? Sign Up Today. View comments. The New Orleans Mint was reopened in , minting mainly silver coinage, including the famed Morgan silver dollar from to A financial failure, the event is notable as the beginnings of the city's tourist economy.

An electric lighting system was introduced to the city in ; limited use of electric lights in a few areas of town had preceded this by a few years. Hennessy was shot, and reportedly his dying words informed a colleague that he was shot by "Dagos", an insulting term for Italians. On March 13, , a group of Italian Americans on trial for the shooting were acquitted. However, a mob stormed the jail and lynched eleven Italian-Americans.

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Local historians still debate whether some of those lynched were connected to the Mafia , but most agree that a number of innocent people were lynched during the Chief Hennessy Riot. The government of Italy protested, as some of those lynched were still Italian citizens, and the government of the U. In the s much of the city's public transportation system, hitherto relying on mule -drawn streetcars on most routes supplemented by a few steam locomotives on longer routes, was electrified.

With a relatively large educated black including a self-described "Creole" or mixed-race population that had long interacted with the white population, racial attitudes were comparatively liberal for the Deep South. For example there was the New Orleans general strike that began on November 8, But, like other southern cities and towns, African Americans were barred from a range of employment possibilities, including police officers, and firefighters.

No black child was allowed an education at a public high school in the city. From hotels, parks, museums and restaurants, black citizens were denied access through a rigid system of Jim Crow , but some in the city objected to the State of Louisiana's attempt to enforce strict racial segregation , and hoped to overturn the law with a test case in The case found its way to the U. Supreme Court in as Plessy v.

NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood In New Orleans History

This resulted in upholding segregation, which would be enforced with ever-growing strictness for more than half a century. In , the New Orleans political machine, "the Ring," won a sweeping victory over the incumbent reformers.

John Fitzpatrick , leader of the working class Irish, became mayor. This entity later became known as the New Orleans Public Library. In the spring of Mayor Fitzpatrick, leader of the city's Bourbon Democratic organization , left office after a scandal-ridden administration, his chosen successor badly defeated by reform candidate Walter C. But Fitzpatrick and his associates quickly regrouped, organizing themselves on 29 December into the Choctaw Club, which soon received considerable patronage from Louisiana governor and Fitzpatrick ally Murphy Foster.

Fitzpatrick, a power at the Louisiana Constitutional Convention, was instrumental in exempting immigrants from the new educational and property requirements designed to disenfranchise blacks. In he managed the successful mayoral campaign of Bourbon candidate Paul Capdevielle. In the quasi-legal red light district called Storyville opened and soon became a famous attraction of the city. The Robert Charles Riots occurred in July Well-armed African-American Robert Charles held off a group of policemen who came to arrest him for days, killing several of them.

A White mob started a race riot , terrorizing and killing a number of African Americans unconnected with Charles. The riots were stopped when a group of White businessmen quickly printed and nailed up flyers saying that if the rioting continued they would start passing out firearms to the black population for their self-defense. The population of New Orleans and other settlements in south Louisiana suffered from epidemics of yellow fever , malaria , cholera , and smallpox , beginning in the late 18th century and periodically throughout the 19th century.

Doctors did not understand how the diseases were transmitted; primitive sanitation and lack of a public water system contributed to public health problems, as did the highly transient population of sailors and immigrants. The city successfully suppressed a final outbreak of yellow fever in See below, 20th century. Until the early 20th century, construction was largely limited to the slightly higher ground along old natural river levees and bayous; the largest section of this being near the Mississippi River front.

This gave the 19th-century city the shape of a crescent along a bend of the Mississippi, the origin of the nickname The Crescent City. Between the developed higher ground near the Mississippi and the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, most of the area was wetlands only slightly above the level of Lake Pontchartrain and sea level.

This area was commonly referred to as the "back swamp," or areas of cypress groves as "the back woods. The levees protecting the city from high water events on the Mississippi and Lake compounded this problem, as they also kept rainwater in, which tended to concentrate in the lower areas. Baldwin Wood enacted his ambitious plan to drain the city, including large pumps of his own design that are still used when heavy rains hit the city.

Wood's pumps and drainage allowed the city to expand greatly in area. It only became clear decades later that the problem of subsidence had been underestimated. Much of the land in what had been the old back swamp has continued to slowly sink, and many of the neighborhoods developed after are now below sea level. In the early part of the 20th century the Francophone character of the city was still much in evidence, with one report describing "one-fourth of the population of the city speaks French in ordinary daily intercourse, while another two-fourths is able to understand the language perfectly.

In , yellow fever was reported in the city, which had suffered under repeated epidemics of the disease in the previous century. As the role of mosquitoes in spreading the disease was newly understood, the city embarked on a massive campaign to drain, screen, or oil all cisterns and standing water breeding ground for mosquitoes in the city and educate the public on their vital role in preventing mosquitoes.

The effort was a success and the disease was stopped before reaching epidemic proportions. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the city to demonstrate the safety of New Orleans. The city has had no cases of Yellow Fever since. In , the New Orleans Mint ceased coinage, with active coining equipment shipped to Philadelphia. New Orleans was hit by major storms in the Atlantic hurricane season and again in the Atlantic hurricane season. In the Industrial Canal opened, providing a direct shipping link between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

In the s an effort to "modernize" the look of the city removed the old cast-iron balconies from Canal Street, the city's commercial hub. In the s another "modernization" effort replaced the Canal Streetcar Line with buses. Both of these moves came to be regarded as mistakes long after the fact, and the streetcars returned to a portion of Canal Street at the end of the s, and construction to restore the entire line was completed in April The city's river levees narrowly escaped being topped in the Great Mississippi Flood of In a project was begun to fill in the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain and create levees along the lake side of the city.

Previously areas along the lakefront like Milneburg were built up on stilts, often over water of the constantly shifting shallow shores of the Lake. There have often been tensions between the city, with its desire to run its own affairs, and the government of the State of Louisiana wishing to control the city. Perhaps the situation was never worse than in the early s between Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long and New Orleans Mayor T.

Semmes Walmsley , when armed city police and state troopers faced off at the Orleans Parish line and armed conflict was only narrowly avoided. General Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed these landing craft vital to the Allied victory in the war. The suburbs saw great growth in the second half of the 20th century, and it was only in the post-World War II period that a truly metropolitan New Orleans comprising the New Orleans center city and surrounding suburbs developed.

The largest suburb today is Metairie , an unincorporated subdivision of Jefferson Parish that borders New Orleans to the west. In a somewhat different postwar developmental pattern than that experienced by other older American cities, New Orleans' center city population grew for the first two decades after the war. This was due to the city's ability to accommodate large amounts of new, suburban-style development within the existing city limits, in such neighborhoods as Lakeview , Gentilly , Algiers and New Orleans East.

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Unlike some other municipalities, notably many in Texas, New Orleans is unable to annex adjacent suburban development. Mayor DeLesseps "Chep" Morrison was elected as a reform candidate in His energetic administration accomplished much and received considerable national acclaim. By the end of his mayoralty, however, his political fortunes were dwindling, and he failed to effectively respond to the growing Civil Rights Movement.

The Fort Lauderdale Hurricane hit the city in September In January a meeting of the city's white business leaders publicly endorsed desegregation of the city's public schools. That same year Victor H. Schiro became the city's first mayor of Italian-American ancestry.

The Canal was expected to be an economic boom that would eventually lead to the replacement of the Mississippi Riverfront as the metro area's main commercial harbor. In September the city was hit by Hurricane Betsy. Windows blew out of television station WWL while it was broadcasting.

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In an effort to prevent panic, mayor Vic Schiro memorably told TV and radio audiences "Don't believe any false rumors, unless you hear them from me. Bernard parish. President Lyndon Johnson quickly flew to the city to promise federal aid. In , City Councilman Ernest N. Morial became the first person of African-American ancestry to be elected mayor of New Orleans. While long one of the United States' most visited cities, tourism boomed in the last quarter of the 20th century, becoming a major force in the local economy.

Areas of the French Quarter and Central Business District, which were long oriented towards local residential and business uses, increasingly catered to the tourist industry. In , Sidney Barthelemy was elected mayor of the Crescent City; he was re-elected in spring of , serving two terms. In and , Marc Morial , the son of "Dutch" Morial, was elected to two consecutive terms as mayor. The city experienced severe flooding in the May 8, , Louisiana Flood when heavy rains suddenly dumped over a foot of water on parts of town faster than the pumps could remove the water.

Water filled up the streets, especially in lower-lying parts of the city. Insurance companies declared more automobiles totaled than in any other U. See May 8th Louisiana Flood. Amazingly, nobody died in the accident, although about 66 were injured. Fifteen shops and hotel rooms were demolished. The freightliner was unable to be removed from the crash site until January 6, , by which time the site had become something of a "must-see" tourist attraction.

In May , businessman Ray Nagin was elected mayor. A former cable television executive, Nagin was unaligned with any of the city's traditional political blocks, and many voters were attracted to his pledges to fight corruption and run the city on a more business-like basis.

Hurricane Katrina: Before the Storm

He received a year sentence. On August 29, , an estimated , people were temporarily evacuated from Greater New Orleans when projected tracks of Hurricane Katrina included a possible major hit of the city. It missed, although Katrina wreaked considerable havoc on the Gulf Coast east of Louisiana. The city suffered from the effects of a major hurricane on and after August 29, , as Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the gulf coast near the city. In the aftermath of the storm, what has been called "the largest civil engineering disaster in the history of the United States" flooded the majority of the city when the levee and floodwall system protecting New Orleans failed.

The city became aware that a major hurricane hit was possible and issued voluntary evacuations on Saturday, August Charles parishes was converted to all-outbound lanes heading out of the city as well as Interstates 55 and 59 in the surrounding area, a maneuver known as "contraflow. In the Gulf of Mexico , Katrina continued to gain strength as it turned northwest, then north towards southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

On the morning of Sunday, August 28, Katrina was upgraded to a top-notched Category 5 hurricane. Around 10 am, Mayor Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation of the entire city, the first such order ever issued in the city's history. An estimated 1 million people evacuated from Greater New Orleans and nearby areas before the storm.

This included people who refused to leave home, those who felt their homes were adequate shelter from the storm, and people without cars or without financial means to leave.

The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans

Some took refuge in the Superdome, which was designated as a "shelter of last resort" for those who could not leave. The eye of the storm missed the heart of the city by only 20—30 miles, and strong winds ravaged the city, shattering windows, spreading debris in many areas, and bringing heavy rains and flooding to many areas of the city. The situation worsened when levees on four of the city's canals were breached. Storm surge was funneled in via the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet , which breached in multiple places.

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