Katrina won't kill Big Easy - Ed Brock

They're parading through the French Quarter already.

Life will return to New Orleans. That's what it meant to me when I saw people in costumes carrying on and throwing beads to people on wrought-iron balconies.

It certainly lifts my spirits, since I couldn't imagine life without New Orleans.

For as long as I've been alive we've gone as a family to visit my cousins in Metairie. I remember once riding through the tropical streets one summer evening on a bicycle built for two that we pretended was a World War II bomber. Those of us on regular bikes were the fighter planes and we engaged in a dogfight until the night drove us back to my aunt and uncle's house.

In high school our science club annually took a field trip to the Audubon Zoo and the French Quarter. And when I graduated we spent that night in a mad delirium on Bourbon Street.

My wife and I went there about two years ago for one cousin's wedding and we brought back Hurricane glasses from Pat O'Briens. That can't be the last time we go there.

New Orleans will live again, but so many of its people will not see that day. What could be more heart rending than the words "thousands dead?" Maybe "thousands more left homeless" could compete.

My cousins are now among the latter number, but fortunately they listened when the authorities said "Get out." But it's too easy to say everybody who stayed behind was just stupid. Those of us who grew up along the coast know that officials always advise evacuation and many of the thousands who stayed behind probably put past experience over foresight.

That may be what happened with FEMA, too. Surely it appears that somebody dropped the ball in the initial relief efforts and that mistake cost a lot of lives. But there is some truth in the consideration that this tragedy is truly unprecedented.

Nothing like this has ever happened before. But it may happen again, and there will be no such excuse then.

There will be a 'new' New Orleans, one built better and stronger I hope. That has to happen.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com