Opportunity from catastrophe

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    Welcome to the property management blog, our diary of the property management industry.

    What will become of the central Gulf Coast and its people? How do you deal with the enormity of evacuating hundreds of thousands of people, who may never be able to go home?

    As long as I have been alive, I’ve heard talk of how New Orleans could get swept off the map by a combination of high wind, high storm surge, heavy rains, breached levees and broken water pumps. No one seemed to think that it would require a direct hit by a category 5 hurricane. A glancing blow would do it.

    I had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans several times. I loved it. It had that combination of sophistication, dilapidation, elegance and funkiness that is expressed in the flavors of its foods and the rhythms of its musical styles. Having spent a lot of my life in New York City, I felt right at home with the strange gumbo of the rich and the poor, the talented and the desperate, the stew of cultures and the old and new architecture. I remember walking along the levees by the Mississippi River near the French Quarter thinking that it would not take a direct hit to wash it all away. I was actually a little nervous being in New Orleans. In a big storm, there would be no escape. It wouldn’t require a direct hit. A glancing blow would probably do it.

    And here we are. The event has happened. It may be weeks before the rescue and evacuation is complete. Then will come a long period of assessment and grieving. The loss of life and the total loss of belongings will numb the people involved for years.

    Soon the planning will begin. What can be saved? What can be rebuilt? Do we dare try to re-build in “The bowl” of New Orleans? What about the port and the industrial complexes? The economic significance of this region is enormous.

    Do we re-locate all the residents of New Orleans and the Mississippi shoreline somewhere else? Do we build a new industrial and shipping infrastructure from scratch trying to use cutting edge technologies and practices to replace outdated and inefficient dinosaurs of industry?

    I come from a refugee family. The scars last for generations. But the opportunities we created for ourselves opened up so many new possibilities and experiences. I am not thankful that I came from a refugee family. But I am thankful that refugees are resilient and resourceful and often capable of creating a new and very positive future for themselves. But they can’t do it without a lot of help. When refugees have lost all their boots in a flood, they have no boot straps to pull themselves up by. They need help getting some boots to pull on…and food, shelter and education in the mean time.

    Properties will be rebuilt. Those of us involved in building and managing property will prosper in the re-building, even if the initial loss to some property management firms might seem unimaginable. There will be enough margin in the entire re-building process no matter how it takes shape for the investors and the companies involved.

    I only hope that everyone treats this catastrophe as an opportunity to build or re-build vibrant, prosperous communities. It would do no one any good to have a couple of hundred thousand people living in tents and Quonset huts for another two generations.

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    Disclamer: This entry is intended to promote our partner StorageMart and some or all participants received compensation.