Monday, March 30, 2015

UNO Holds Katrina@10 Summit

Katrina 10Monica Farris, a UNO faculty member and the director of UNO-CHART, addresses how to build community resilience through education and outreach, during the University’s Katrina@10 Summit.

Nearly 200 people attended a University of New Orleans summit that analyzed the significant changes the New Orleans region has experienced in the decade since Hurricane Katrina. “A Safe and Just Region? Assessing New Orleans 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina” was held in the Sen. Ted Hickey Ballroom in the University Center, and drew a diverse audience of students, academics, journalists and local residents.

The daylong symposium was divided into four separate panel discussions that featured faculty members from UNO and other Louisiana universities, as well as professionals from nonprofits, government and private industry. The topics of the panels were: the coast, disaster preparedness and resilience 10 years later; continuity and change in food, music and everyday life; historic preservation and tangible cultural resources in an uncertain environment; and a decade of urban change in housing, transportation and economic development.

A common theme that emerged from many of the panel discussions was the concept of a recovery that is both exemplary and uneven.

“I would say we are doing well, but not good enough,” said Renia Ehrenfeucht, an associate professor of planning and urban studies and one of the event’s organizers. "Certainly our coastal areas are still vulnerable. In the city, some areas are doing great and coming back better than ever and then others are not doing so well. Some people have plenty of opportunities while some people do not."

Both affordable housing and the availability of jobs that pay a living wage continue to be a challenge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, according to Marla Nelson, associate professor of planning and urban studies. Nelson’s research has noted many New Orleans residents are willing to travel outside of their own parish for employment that some might assume would available closer to home.

“What really struck us too was how far some people were commuting for this low-wage work — into St. Charles Parish, into Plaquemines Parish as well,” Nelson said.

Individual panelists delivered brief presentations on a chosen topic and then fielded questions from audience members. The subjects ran the gamut—from the plight of people living outside the levees and how to build community resilience to the Latin American influence in post-Katrina New Orleans food and the renewal of City Park.

The event was organized by the UNO Department of Planning and Urban Studies in collaboration with the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology, the Master of Public Administration program, the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) and the Merritt C. Becker UNO Transportation Institute.

Watch the UNO Katrina@10 Summit