208471 Disaster as Opportunity: A Case Study of the Lower 9th Ward

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 5:42 PM

Charles Allen III, MPH , Tulane/Xavier Center Bioenvironmental Research, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Ann M. Yoachim, MPH , Tulane Law School : Institute for Water Law and Policy, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
The Lower 9th ward before Hurricane Katrina, like much of New Orleans, was a community with limited investment in sustainable architecture, energy efficiency, and infrastructure. Following Katrina local academic, federal and state partners chose the Lower 9th Ward to participate in a pilot project focused on developing a sustainable restoration plan. That plan includes discussion, designs, recommendations, and potential projects under four topics: 1) urban design and the built environment; 2) economy; 3) environment; and 4) quality of life; for the entire Lower 9th ward. These planning efforts and continued residential, philanthropic, and public construction investments during the post-Katrina recovery period have brought about an unprecedented opportunity to increase the awareness of area residents' awareness of climate change, coastal wetland restoration, and broad issues surrounding sustainability.

This paper describes challenges and successes in efforts to implement the neighborhood plan. Included are discussions of built infrastructure, the limitations of defining sustainability in terms of energy efficiency and green building, community concerns about climate change & ecosystem services, and the influence the neighborhood has had on influencing local and state policy. The paper also illustrates how community experience has improved the effectiveness non-profit organizations,academia, and government agencies as they work to shape policy and implement programs related to sustainability. In conclusion,the paper provides an example of how the neighborhood has broadened the definition of sustainability to include the restoration of Bayou Bienvenue, a wetland ecosystem within the ward that could serve as storm protection against future hurricanes and climate change.

Learning Objectives:
Explain the challenges facing the Lower Ninth Ward Community. Summarize the important components of the sustainable restoration plan. Describe how grass-roots action can influence state and local government decisions. Discuss how this neighborhood’s experiences could inform the work of other communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: MPH Assistant Director, Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research Urban Eco Program coordinator Lower 9th Ward resident
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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