• A movement is afoot to extend SA+P's commitment to New Orleans still further by developing a Living Laboratory at MIT, designed for undergraduates from all five schools at the Institute.

    Photo courtesy of the City-to-City class

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Still rebuilding New Orleans

SA+P’s sustained commitment seeks to extend still further

In the years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in MIT's School of Architecture + Planning has been, and continues to be, one of the nation’s most active urban planning departments on the scene, and one of the most effective. While many schools have devoted time and effort to reconstruction, MIT’s contribution has been especially distinguished by its focus on empowering local communities.

Through involvement with studios, theses, practica, projects, research and advocacy, our students, faculty and alumni have provided assistance to community organizations, city departments and neighborhoods with challenges ranging from economic development to housing to environmental justice and more. Several students have written masters theses focused on the region and student proposals for specific revitalization projects have won development grants for community organizations that range from $15,000 to $1.2 million.

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Topics: Community, Faculty, Gulf of Mexico, Hurricanes, Staff, Students, Urban studies and planning


It's still important that some Katrina myths be laid to rest as people still perpetuate these ideas after 6 years. Here are some facts: While Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it was not a natural disaster for the city of New Orleans. The Army Corps of Engineers' shoddy levees failed to hold up to a Category 3 storm. Most of the death and destruction in New Orleans was caused by the levee failures as well as the slow response by the Federal Government. While we in the Superdome believed the rumors of murders and rapes, in reality these could not be verified. There was a suicide, a couple of drug overdoses and about 5 deaths of medical patients. The Airport, Amtrak, and Greyhound shut down PRIOR to the evacuation of New Orleans. Many of us could not get out of town and ended up at the Superdome or Convention Center. The approximate 85% of residents who did evacuate is a higher level than most evacuations of its kind in the U.S. Those infamous flooded busses would have only evacuated about 5000 people as only half were operable and who was going to drive them as most of the locals had been forced to evacuate. Days after Katrina, Bush said, "No one could have foreseen the breach of the levees". 6 months later a video and transcripts surfaced showing Bush being forewarned by the Head of the Nat. Hurricane Center, Gov. Blanco, "Brownie" and Nagin that this was going to be a devastating storm and quite likely the levees would be breached. Bush said, "Everything would be taken care of". Thus he was caught in two lies. Paul Harris Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"
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