The Boston Globe has a great overview story on the situation in our situation here in Lafayette. It's reassuring to know that sensationalistic coverage isn't universal. Some bits:
LAFAYETTE, La. -- If disaster aid follows the evacuees, then folks in Lafayette are waiting for the assistance to start flowing. They already have the people...I think the word is more the author wants, and like "anticipating" than "concerned." Durel has emphasized that how to deal with the inevitable is the issue. And folks here do seem to be on the stick about this. From a distance I have to say that Walter Guillory seems to be stepping into a role of real leadership.
While Baton Rouge is larger, closer to New Orleans, and has the state government seat, Lafayette, with its boiled crawfish, gumbo, and zydeco, is a key element of Louisiana culture...
City-Parish President Joey Durel said he expected Lafayette's population of 112,000 to rise by about a third in what he called ''unnatural growth," which will affect all aspects of life and government. Lafayette is the only major city in Louisiana that has grown in the past 15 years, and outside New Orleans, it is the most progressive in terms of arts and culture, Durel said. Many New Orleanians have deep ties to Lafayette, and officials are concerned that many of the displaced will feel comfortable relocating here instead of returning...
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is scouting areas to build temporary housing. The Lafayette Housing Authority is helping put together a proposal for a $1.5 billion federal grant that would provide housing and self-sufficiency programs for displaced Katrina victims throughout the state, said Walter Guillory, the housing authority's executive director. So far, 9,000 evacuees have registered in Lafayette for low- to moderate-income housing...There are a lot of good, succienctly-stated examples of the changes Lafayette is undergoing. But there is a plan, if unimplemented, to deal with these issues. I've read big chunks of the LINC documents in the course of trying to understand its telecom and fiber suggestions and I was knocked back by the intelligence of the work. It's a great starting place...if you compress a 20 year timeline for rational expansion into 3.
In terms of the medium- to long-term impact on the city, Durel said Lafayette has a strategic plan for expansion: Lafayette In the New Century, or LINC.
But there is no way to implement a 20-year plan within a year, argued Bill Bacque, CEO of Van Eaton and Associates, the city's largest real estate firm.
''What's going to happen? Who the heck knows?" he said. ''There is nothing we can turn to, nothing in history, no guide that we can pull off the shelf, nothing other than a gut feeling of what we can do. There is no owner's manual for Hurricane Katrina."