Editor's note: Susan Roesgen is a CNN correspondent based in New Orleans. She has more than a decade of experience covering New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
I'm tired. This town is tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of the run around from the insurance guy, the FEMA guy, the Small Business Administration guy, pick your guy. We're too worn out to be fed up. It's like, whatever.
The people who keep track of things like worn out New Orleanians did a survey. They found that about half the people who've made it this far after the hurricane are seriously considering throwing in the towel. The big indignities -- like crime -- and the little indignities -- like the hole in the street that won't ever get fixed -- are just too much. We survived the hurricane because we said we'd never leave New Orleans, but honestly, other cities are starting to look pretty darn good.
Lucky for us, reinforcements have arrived. Bright, well-educated, and eager. We could hate them if we had the strength. Instead, we're glad to see their new ideas and new energy, and they say they're here to stay. Here are a few:
- Pastor Ray Cannata from New Jersey. He turned down a cushy job in San Diego to take over a Presbyterian church that was down to just 15 members after the storm. Ray's real world philosophy -- "God is messy; a Christian's job is to go where the pain is" -- and his real world work ethic -- the church has gutted more than two hundred houses -- is winning new converts. The congregation is at a hundred now, and growing.
- John Alford, whiz kid from New York. Harvard MBA grad. Where is he today? Trying to hire teachers to reopen a flooded New Orleans school. He fell in love with the city's jazz and food, but says the schools here are "a horror." His goal is to start with one fifth-grade class to help spur a new wave of smart kids in what's left of one of the shabbiest school districts in the nation.
- Sherrita Bishop. Criminology degree from the University of New Mexico. Did the tourist thing in New Orleans a month before the hurricane, then waited for the water to go down so she could come back and strap on a gun. She's one of the first 30 new police recruits since the storm. Why? "I don't know why," she says. "I just found a niche. I want to do what I can to help people."
Who are these misty-eyed idealists? Locals call them the new "vanguard." Tim Williamson, a New Orleans native, founded a company that matches investors to budding entrepreneurs. He says the newcomers will change the city.
"They believe that New Orleans is one of the greatest challenges in their lifetimes. How could they sit back and go to New York, Boston, Atlanta, when they have this grand opportunity in New Orleans?" he says.
Their "grand opportunity" may be the city's salvation.