Thursday, January 03, 2008

Partial recovery but a long long ways to go

Keeping Score

As a sports fan and a finance professor I am used to keeping score. From miles run, to laps swum, to number of questions correct it is what I do. But I do not know how to keep score in the Gulf Coast.

On one hand much progress has been made on many fronts. I drove through Biloxi today to see how the city is coming along. And I am happy to report that it is making substantial improvements. Most of the houses we worked on during our first three or four trips have been completed and are now all occupied.

In Pass Christian the Bridge to Bay St. Louis is the big accomplishment and on almost every block a new home seems to be going up or just completed. (For comparison purposes, look around your own home town. Most streets (let alone blocks) have no new homes. So by these measures, the recovery from Katrina is strong.

It is heartwarming to see the rebuilding of cities, towns, and most importantly lives. And I must confess it was thrilling today to tour neighborhoods from East Biloxi to Pass Christian and see the impact that BonaResponds has had as we toured with volunteers who had worked on the houses on past trips. So at first glance it might appear that things are all rosy.

But while things are unquestionably MUCH better than they have been at any point since the storm, things are far from perfect. For instance on my run tonight it struck me how much still remains to be done. While it is true that on almost every block there is a new house going up, on many blocks it is the only house. Reread that. Not the only new house, the only house. The neighborhood may be composed of 8 slabs, an empty foundation, a deserted pool, a pile of debris, and a For Sale sign. Again look around your own neigborhood, how many debris piles? deserted properties, or foundations do you have.

So when I get home and people as me how things are in the Gulf, I will be sure to tell them that things are much better, but far far from perfect and much much work remains.

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