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Your e-mails: 'Showcase its uniqueness' readers on revitalizing the Crescent City

New Orleanians make their way down a flooded Canal Street in this August 30 file photo.


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

New Orleans deserves to be rebuilt in a way that preserves its history. It is a great food city. Also, it is the birthplace of jazz music and was once the biggest port in the United States. I wish that we could showcase its uniqueness. It's a relaxed and "have a good time" kind of place. I hope that a lot of the abandoned buildings and crime went away with Katrina. This city is too great not to rebuild, but we don't need to look for some quick fix. New Orleans is like no other, and it should remain that way.
Christy, Gonzales, Louisiana

New Orleans is dead. If companies want to go in and rebuild, let them. If people want to go in and rebuild, let them. Don't tell the U.S. government it has to go in and rebuild, or subsidize those who "feel" a loss from New Orleans being gone.
Robb, San Antonio, Texas

Like most other large, older cities, we have a poor road and highway system. Although we generally have several days' warning before hurricanes, evacuations cause gridlock on our highways. Now is the time to improve our highway and public transportation system to improve our evacuation routes.
Dale Roseberry, New Orleans, Louisiana

I want the wetlands, swamps, restored! That is key! Secondly, the city should be razed. Third, the city's pumps should be upgraded. Fourth, the levee system should be upgraded and be mandatory to maintain to its optimal conditions. Then let the people who come back or go there to live decide how the culture and architecture will be. I seriously doubt what I propose will happen. Unfortunately.
Ayeshah, Waco, Texas

Why would we want to rebuild something that was never really meant to be there? It seems counterproductive. The place is filled with horrible poverty and business owners would do better not to start a business in a place that will eventually be flooded again. People need to use their common sense about this. We are acting against a force that is greater than us.
Cory, Boise, Idaho

New Orleans must first come to grips with providing first-class education to its children in order to overcome the poverty that results from poorly educated people. Next, the city must develop a new attitude. A party town mentality only attracts tourists. The city needs to overcome this attitude and start attracting more industry, which will, in turn, produce a stable tax base.
R. Miller, Covington, Louisiana

I do not wish to see New Orleans rebuilt. I hope it forever serves as a reminder that no country, no matter how imperialistic, is vulnerable to the uncertain perils that natural disaster can wreak for any nation, no matter how large and small. The money can be better spent helping get the people of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir basic medical and shelter needs than in providing citizens of the world's richest country with unneeded luxuries. I'm sure you can bear a few more weeks living with relatives. Imagine what it would be like over there, and consider yourself lucky.
Brian, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I would like to see New Orleans rebuilt as a tribute back to its roots/heritage -- i.e. the native citizens of years past. The true culture of Louisiana should be families of true Louisianans whose heritage dates back the last 50-100 years. All the business owners who now own and operate business in the French Quarter and vicinity should go back to their country and local nationalities should "take back" New Orleans, operate the city in its true culture, appreciation, etc. -- not the yahoos who flooded the city over the past 10 years, buying all local businesses and not having a clue of the true culture, lifestyle and love of the SOUTH and our fellow citizen.
Gail, Clear Lake, Texas

New Orleans needs to be rebuilt to be the Las Vegas of the south. Let big business and not government re-create the economy. Let the casinos build on-land hotels and casinos and give businesses willing to re-invest in the New Orleans economy tax breaks. Hotels and casinos will create thousands of jobs and will help spur travel to the region.
Tom, Orlando, Florida

I'd rather not see New Orleans rebuilt, at least not predominantly with taxpayer funds. I've traveled extensively to New Orleans for business and know well of its decline over the decades, both economically and culturally. Yes, it's sad but FEMA's Mr. Brown is essentially right, New Orleans was a disaster before. And, most probably, will continue to be a disaster if it continues to be led by inept and corrupt politicians. I wonder why anyone who left following Katrina would want to return.
Bryan, Dallas, Texas

It's time to turn Katrina's huge bag of lemons into some lemonade. This is a great opportunity for New Orleans, a city that was very troubled before Katrina, to really start anew for everyone. The city's past should always be honored, but, with the nation now understanding the economic and strategic importance of New Orleans, it is time to make some changes. First, Congress should appropriate enough money to ensure that the city and its surrounds are adequately protected from storm surge, including rebuilding of Louisiana's wetlands, as well as possibly damming off Lake Pontchartrain and turning it into a flood basin. Second, the state needs to restructure its tax system to ensure that Louisiana receives more revenue from oil exploration and refining. Third, it is time for Louisiana's political leaders to admit that they do not have all the answers to the many problems we face, and rely on business leaders and experts in the fields of urban planning and education to ensure that New Orleans becomes the greatest mid-size city in America. It is going to take a national effort to not only bring New Orleans back, but to make it even better.
Phil M. Guidry, New Orleans, Louisiana

Restore the wetlands to provide a buffer from the Gulf and future hurricanes; re-engineer the levee system and update it; do not rebuild in the projects but have a joint task force of government, business and residents help determine the best solution to rebuilding the city so that there will never again be locations with thriving pockets of poverty and crime flourishing, but rather growth, education and pride of place. Develop programs that will allow all citizens to participate in the reconstruction and rebirth of this great American city with all of its significant history and recognizing the contributions it has made to the growth and development of this country. Make it a living example of the U.S. being the best that it can be.
Jaye Sloan, Franklin, Tennessee

The greatest majority of the people of New Orleans that I talk to are concerned about the re-building of the levees. When you get 10 feet of water in your house you want some sort of assurance that it will not happen again before you rebuild.
Jorge Chao, New Orleans, Louisiana

1. Make it hurricane proof -- Category 5 hurricane proof. Concentrate on the levees and the wetlands.
2. Don't make it another Disneyland. I've been to the Disneyland version of the French Quarter. It was obscene -- all plastic.
3. Don't exclude the African Americans. They are part of the blood and roots of New Orleans as much as the French Creoles and Spanish and even the Americans. Ann Rice said it all in her article so watch out for those who want to turn the 9th Ward, etc. into condos and hotels.
4. New Orleans isn't just Cafe du Monde and Jackson Square. It isn't just the Garden District. It's like the dish gumbo and the word gumbo, like okra itself -- an ingredient of gumbo -- they come from Africa. But now they are of New Orleans.
5. Do something about the poverty and discrimination. Do something about the corrupt, vile police force. We saw it all from our living rooms. And no one can tell us different or make us forget.
6. And no one can make us forget the real New Orleans! We expect it to still be there in all its glory after the rebuilding.
Janet White, Austin, Texas

No taxpayer money should ever be spent to encourage building or rebuilding a city below sea level. Global warming and the current 20-year weather cycle both ensure that any such city will only be destroyed again. The area is a toxic waste dump not safe to walk on much less live in. That area should be converted into a Wetlands National Park. Knock down the dikes, and let the Mississippi River restore the land. As a college-age visitor to the city in 2001, I found a city full of "un-admittable fun," and a bastardization of law and order. The city, ill-conceived from the start, broke ground against the chief engineer's advice; starting a processes of filling a never-ending and ever-growing pit with money building unrealistic hopes and expensive, inevitably inadequate, levee systems. I say, let's scrap any plans to "restore" the city to its pre-hurricane state and instead develop it as a relatively small historic and memorial site -- void of massive population and massive levee systems. Instead, let us, as a nation, allow the river to meander and the wetlands and saltwater marshes to re-grow. Not because of an ultra-environmental reason, but to ensure that the sea life in the Gulf of Mexico can continue as a multi-billion dollar source of food, industry and recreation. New Orleans should be "re-built" as an example to the world, making the best and most economic use of a tragedy. I encourage everyone to think and plan using common sense and not emotion.
Matthew J. Baumgartner, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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