The Manhattan Institute's City Journal has an excellent group of articles in its in Autumn 2010 issue. One of them takes a hard look at New Orleans' come back. Nicole Gelinas notes that the Big Easy appears to be on the way back. One reason is that residents evacuated to cities like Houston, Texas that worked and came back with a renewed sense of, understanding, and commitment to how to get New Oleans moving again. Writes Gelinas:
"But when New Orleanians evacuated to places like Houston after the storm (see “Houston’s Noble Experiment,” Spring 2006), they learned an all-important lesson: cities could govern themselves well. Starting in late 2005, the exiles gradually returned to New Orleans with a new understanding that streets could be smooth, people could walk to their cars at night without fear, and school districts might actually try to educate poor kids from single-parent homes.
"Returning residents also felt a new degree of personal investment in their city. Before Katrina, after all, most of them had never chosen to live in New Orleans; they had simply grown up there and remained. After the storm, though, being a resident became a conscious choice. It would have been easy enough to make a go of it in Houston, a place with greater economic opportunity and better quality of life. Those who returned anyway didn’t want to do the hard work of rebuilding only to see appalling urban governance wreck their work."
I think the comment that current NO residents are "choice" residents is quite salient.