New Orleans was a major shipping center, where materials barged down from the middle of the country along the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers were transloaded onto oceangoing vessels bound for virtually every port in the world. The rebuilding of the Port of New Orleans will be expensive and slow. Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile also require extensive reconstruction before economic life can return to the area.
New Orleans was also a major oil and gas center, with eight refineries and untold pumping stations for natural gas and petroleum products. There are hosts of chemical plants and major transportation arteries that require repair, and in some instances, complete replacement. It's going to take a long time, it's going to be hard work, and it's going to be expensive.
Most important of all, however, are families and individuals whose lives have been totally disrupted by the devastation visited upon them by Hurricane Katrina. Structures can be rebuilt - it just takes money. People's lives are different. Sometimes, they can't be rebuilt at all. Others have gaps where loved ones, friends, even pets have been gouged out of their existence. Rebuilding lives may not be as expensive dollar-wise as rebuilding structures, but it usually takes longer, and it's not easy or cheap.
Now the Gulf Coast is being threatened with another storm - Hurricane Rita. This time, those under the most severe threat are remembering what happened in New Orleans, and acting prudently. Yet will it be enough? Only time will tell.
I've been to both New Orleans and Galveston. I have friends and family throughout both Louisiana and Texas. I will be praying for their safety. When the time comes, and what their individual needs become apparent, I will once again dig into my wallet and help out with whatever I can. I am proud to live in a nation where people do those things, not only for friends and family, but even for total strangers. May it always be so!