Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans

Planning the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has been among the greatest urban planning challenges of our time. Since 2005, Robert B. Olshansky and Laurie A. Johnson, urban planners who specialize in disaster planning and recovery, have been working to understand, in real time, the difficult planning decisions in this unusual situation. As both observers of and participants in the difficult process of creating the Unified New Orleans Plan, Olshansky and Johnson bring unparalleled detail and insight to this complex story. The recovery process has been slow and frustrating, in part because New Orleans was so unprepared for the physical challenges of such a disaster, but also because it lacked sufficient planning mechanisms to manage community reconstruction in a viable way. New Orleans has had to rebuild its buildings and institutions, but it has also had to create a community planning structure that is seen as both equitable and effective, while also addressing the concerns and demands of state, federal, nonprofit, and private-sector stakeholders. In documenting how this unprecedented process occurred, Olshansky and Johnson spent years on the ground in New Orleans, interviewing leaders and citizens and abetting the design and execution of the Unified New Orleans Plan. Their insights will help cities across the globe recognize the challenges of rebuilding and recovering after disaster strikes.