DETROIT (AP) – Mayor Dave Bing, working on plans to reshape Detroit neighborhoods, was getting a walking tour of New Orleans to observe how that city is recovering more than five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.
Bing and other members of his administration were meeting Monday with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Bing spokeswoman Karen Dumas told The Associated Press. They were in New Orleans to see relocation efforts, blight reduction and land-use strategies.
“There are a lot of similarities to Detroit in terms of energy . . . post-Katrina issues they are experiencing we also are experiencing,” Dumas said. “We also are here to learn what they would have liked to have done differently.”
Flooding caused by the hurricane devastated New Orleans’ 9th Ward in August 2005, forcing thousands of people to flee to safety. Flooding remained for months, making hundreds of homes unlivable. Floodwaters covered 80 percent of the city. Hundreds of people were killed.
Detroit’s nose-diving economy and the loss of the city’s residential and business tax base over the past four decades has decimated many neighborhoods in the 139-square-mile city. Detroit has lost more than half its population, which peaked at nearly 2 million in the 1950s.
Many Detroit streets have only a few residents and are filled with vacant and abandoned houses. Bing has said that strains city services as those streets still require police patrols and trash pickup.
Incentives are expected to be offered to existing residents in those areas to persuade them to move to other parts of the city, strengthening Detroit’s most viable neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, the city is working to demolish 3,000 dangerous and vacant homes over each of the next two years.
A Detroit neighborhood study is expected to be released by Bing’s office on April 1.
Detroit Planning and Facilities Group Executive Karla Henderson and Midtown University Cultural Center Association President Sue Mosey also are in New Orleans. The Ford Foundation is paying for the trip, Dumas said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.