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When Hurricane Katrina and the flood from the storm hit the Gulf, the devastation was unimaginable. The destruction and mood in New Orleans was almost post-Apocalyptic. While there were people motivated to work on a recovery right away, there were many, many people wandering and seeming to be searching for something to say.  It was like the situation they were in wasn’t reality.

I was in New Orleans as a liaison for the financial industry and the various groups working on the recovery. I’m pleased to see that New Orleans is recovering pretty well today. While the city does not have the housing stock it once had, the community is coming back. It’s taken six years, but maybe the city will come back even better than it was.


While I was in New Orleans – I saw something that gave me pause about the future of the recovery. I was in a meeting with the leaders in the banking community. One gentleman, who had been a part of the New Orleans community for years and years, stood up. He told the group “this is going to be what it’s going to be. Nothing we’re going to do is going to change anything. The outcome is just going to occur.” At the time this statement made me feel depressed – a leader in this city was telling everyone don’t try to do anything, just let things happen.  

I was encouraged to see that he did not get universal support for that statement – that there was a desire to spur on change and to bring the city back. But I also realized that underneath this huge catastrophe there was a very human thing going on. There was a large portion of the population saying “it is what it is, if people leave they leave, if they come back they come back, if they rebuild they rebuild, New Orleans will be fine.” And there was another group saying “we have to do something, we have to take control, we need to decide where we want to go and we need to figure out how to get there.”

I learned that if there is no agreement or reconciliation of those two things – you don’t have conditions for success. This is true after a natural disaster or economic disaster.  Fortunately, as an individual we do not have to deal with a conflict of which way to go.  We can decide for ourselves which direction to take.  Will we just wait and see what happens – or will we try to look for solutions and take the actions to create the future we want?

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