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 » Rebuilding  |  Landmarks  | Storm & Flood  |  Special report

Your e-mails: 'We can build it better'

CNN.com readers on reinventing New Orleans

SPECIAL REPORT

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

(CNN) -- Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed devastated many homes, buildings and, in some cases, entire neighborhoods, leaving residents and government officials to decide whether -- and how -- to rebuild.

CNN.com asked readers how they would like to see New Orleans rebuilt. Here is a sampling of their responses, some of which have been edited:

I would like to see Trump take over the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just as he's expressed his vision of remaining true to the twin towers in NYC; I believe he would rebuild New Orleans in the spirit that it was prior to the storm. He would be sure that quality was maintained and that the levees would be fixed properly. I'm sure he'd also get through the political red tape to accomplish this.
Laurel, Meriden, Connecticut

I would like to see the levees rebuilt to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. A tax for the purpose of maintaining the levees and performing the initial upgrade must be implemented. Tourism, gaming and business should assume the majority of this tax. Appropriate oversight is required to ensure that local politicians and special interests don't misuse the funds and are diligent in maintaining the levees and pumps.
Jeff Persson, New Orleans, Louisiana

I really do not care how New Orleans is rebuilt because I am from Mississippi and really do not care about New Orleans, because it is not the only area damaged, but New Orleans was spared the hurricane that Mississippi and Alabama took the hit from. If it was not for those stupid levees we would not be hearing anything about Katrina. So I would not expect a lot of response from the people of Mississippi and Alabama, because they are tired of hearing about New Orleans.
Mike, Millington, Tennessee

They should keep/restore only those homes at or above sea level and the areas below sea level should be returned to the estuaries that they were before they were drained for development. Estuaries are buffers for flooding and will help prevent /lessen damage from hurricanes and storm surges. Pay everyone who will lose a home in New Orleans $180,000 [median home price] for their loss. It would be cheaper then rebuilding and will allow for the reclamation of the land back to its natural state.
Kim, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

I would like to see it built around the concept of "community." Built from the ground up for its inhabitants. The cornerstone of the city should be membership into the community. All members should agree to a nonviolent lifestyle with people offending the community asked to leave. For upstanding community members the city could provide nice housing, child care and health care. Everyone working for the community would be given food and medicine as well. The revenue to pay for all of this would be generated by the tourism industry. This is somewhat what Walt Disney's dream was. Walt was never able to implement it. Maybe New Orleans could.
Richard Gillespie, Madison, Connecticut

Seriously, you know who should be banned? Franchises. A lot of small businesses should be encouraged to grow. None of this homogenized Starbucks, Bed Bath and Beyond bullhooey. The day there is a Gap on Bourbon Street is the day the soul of this country has died. Also lots of money for school. Instruments for the children, paint for the children, books for the children.
Amen Anthony Clune, Brooklyn, New York

Forget New Orleans, painful though it is to say. Start building levees around New York City, San Francisco, and other coast cities. The north polar icecap is retreating, and it is quite possible that within 50 years downtown Manhattan will be below sea level.
Charles Roth, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Because it is of strategic importance, I would allow members of the many important chemical and petroleum companies to colonize the "safer," above sea level regions and I would allow a military occupation to watch over this port. I would not allow private citizens to reoccupy New Orleans. The rest of New Orleans would be cleaned up and reserved as a federal park and natural sanctuary for birds and fish.
Jennifer, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

Here is an opportunity to fix the problems of yesteryear. With the amount of federal relief funding that is flowing, and will continue to flow for years, into the city; there is a unique opportunity to build better. When an infrastructure that previously was not very effective has been completely wiped out; we could almost look at it like a blessing (Forgive me Mother.) A chance to clean up the city, build a better levee system, fix the roadways, design a better utilities matrix, fix the problematic sewer system and make the city a beacon of hope and determination. The city of New Orleans was an amazing city unlike any other on the Gulf Coast. Now is the time to look at making New Orleans an amazing city, unlike any other in the United States and the world. We can build it better and never lose the rich and wonderful history that makes New Orleans a unique and thriving city. It's possible...we just have to look ahead of us and behind.
Michael Odom, Tallahassee, Florida

A new state-of-the-art levee system would be first priority. The majority of the focus should be on preserving the historical character of the city that draws tourists. Gambling and generic commercial crap should NOT be the primary focus.
Michael Ping, Raleigh, North Carolina

I think people should focus on Mississippi also. Everything is New Orleans this, and New Orleans that. Don't get me wrong, I feel terribly for them, but Mississippi was hit HARD TOO!!!!!!
Kelli, Moss Point, Mississippi

What an incredible waste of taxpayer money (which will, of course, be BORROWED money...i.e. principal AND interest will have to be repaid). When a city is destroyed to that degree, the money should be spent to move those people OUT of harm's way. Not set them up to get hit again next hurricane season! New Orleans is below sea level and when a hurricane hits, of course the pumps are going to stop running!
Tom S., Columbia, Illinois

I believe it is very important to solve the "under sea level" problem before rebuilding, perhaps using the Dutch Method. We are a rich country with world-class engineering, and should solve this for once and for all. When rebuilding does begin, it should keep with the historical look that made New Orleans the city it was. I would like to see the shotgun houses, and squares that made this area unique.
Katherine Fritz, Dublin, California

As a Louisiana native with a long family history in New Orleans, I believe the city must be rebuilt with the city's unique history and culture top of mind. The city cannot survive rebuilt only with an eye towards tourism, there must be corporate jobs. Tax incentives to encourage companies to locate there and hire locals should be offered. And the federal government must realize that, in the face of an unprecedented disaster, old rules don't work. Expecting the state of Louisiana to pay $3.7 billion for cleanup work is insane. Louisiana doesn't have it and cannot get it. They have no tax base now. It is especially interesting in light of the fact that the levees failed due to poor design and improper upkeep -- the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Congress! New Orleans residents and expatriates like me should be offered incentives to return, to homestead, to rebuild and to recreate the city they love.
Arden Dufilho, Arlington, Texas

The country of Holland came up with a new project a few years back to fix their dikes and levees. So far, they have not had any flooding but I understand the project cost millions. If the U.S. is not in a position to do that in the areas that flooded, they need to have the areas cleaned up and turn them into a nature wetlands area for birds, etc. There is no reason to let people move back there if you can't assure their safety.
Gail Lorentzen, Schertz, Texas

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