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The Gulf Report

Gulf Coast Blog: Goodbye, New Orleans

Editor's note: The Gulf Coast Blog, compiled by the reporters and producers in CNN's Gulf Coast Bureau, tracks the post-Katrina recovery effort as residents rebuild their lives. Tell us what you think. Send e-mail to the Gulf Coast Blog.

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Debris removal along State Street in Uptown New Orleans.

SPECIAL REPORT

• Rebuilding: Vital signs
• Gallery: Landmarks over time
• Storm & Flood: Making history
• I-Report: Share your photos

Friday, Oct. 14; Posted 11:44 a.m. ET
From Andreas Preuss, CNN Gulf Coast Bureau

My assignment is up and I'm leaving New Orleans, where I lived for 25 years, with mixed feelings and a lot of unanswered questions. On one hand, I've seen people returning. There are glimmers of life in the neighborhoods. Some restaurants, grocery stores and schools are open. But is it enough to sustain the populace?

I've seen debris removal, but not much trash removal. There are still refrigerators everywhere and it stinks. Many places are still without power, telephone or cable TV. And then there are neighborhoods like Lakeview and the 9th Ward where the question lingers: should residents rebuild, or bulldoze their houses?

My heart sank when Mayor Ray Nagin brought up his casino-conversion and gaming zone idea. It seems to me to be another attempt at a panacea for the city's huge problems. Problems like poverty, corruption and weak levees don't need a quick fix.

The New Orleans police beating in the French Quarter was another low point. Whether it was justified or an act of brutality, I felt just like when I saw those people stranded at the Superdome and Morial Convention Center -- ashamed of my city.

I feel sad about the lives lost, those poor people in the hospitals and nursing homes. And what about the destruction of all your property and possessions? I can only imagine the grief many feel.

A large part of the soul and character of the city has been displaced. Will those people come back? Is it right to start thinking about Mardi Gras? Should the city forgo the annual event, because it's just not right to party amongst the ruins? Or does the city need to momentarily forget the past, present and future?

A part of me wants to move back immediately and help rebuild this great city. Another part of me doesn't want to deal with the fear of hurricane season, and it happening all over again. I'm torn, as many of you are.

This is not a eulogy for the city. She will be back; it's just how and when.

The Gulf Coast Blog will continue. I'm heading back to Atlanta. A place I live, but will never be from. I will always be a "Nawlins" boy.

Good luck to you New Orleans. I'll be back to check on you.

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