Officials from New Orleans and the Rockefeller Foundation on Monday celebrated the first anniversary of the release of the city's Resilience Strategy by touting the importance of public-private partnerships in the effort to better prepare for disasters.
Such partnerships were highlighted at Monday's event at the Contemporary Arts Center with the announcement of plans for a resilience assessment of the Sewerage & Water Board's infrastructure in the city by Veolia and Swiss Re, two international companies.
The resilience strategy, created for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last year with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities initiative, is designed to serve as a blueprint for the city as it prepares for future disasters and confronts issues such as climate change and poverty.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu unveiled the city’s new “resiliency” strategy on Tuesday, gathering tog…
New Orleans has been something of a poster child for the Rockefeller Foundation's project, which has funded initiatives in cities around the world focused on improving their preparedness for, and response to, disasters and on longer-term issues such as inequality.
"I think it's no exaggeration to say that resilience building work around the world can be attributed to the leadership of this city," 100 Resilient Cities President Michael Berkowitz said. "Because of New Orleans, cities are better prepared to face the unexpected and better."
City Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Hebert, who also serves as the city's chief resilience officer, said a start has been made on three-quarters of the 41 programs listed in the overall strategy. The list of initiatives includes some large-scale projects such as having more environmentally friendly drainage systems and supporting efforts to rebuild coastal wetlands as well as less ambitious programs such as improving public transportation and neighborhood planning.
Some of the projects, such as the murder-reduction strategy NOLA For Life, were underway before the resilience plan was rolled out.
Another is a $141 million grant from the federal government that will be spent on drainage improvements.
New Orleans will receive about $141 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban De…
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the key to moving forward with the strategy is building on partnerships between the city and a variety of private groups, including companies, nonprofits and churches.
"We know that bad things occur. What we have to do is prepare ourselves for when they do occur and make sure we're not hurt as badly as we could be," Landrieu said.
He added later, "We will be a laboratory for innovation and change; we will help people from all over the world figure out how to do this better."
Under the partnership announced Monday, the reinsurance company Swiss Re and the water-management company Veolia will work with the S&WB to assess all of its facilities and infrastructure to determine how well they can survive climate change and disasters.
The evaluation, expected later this year, will include determining whether facilities such as pump stations can withstand hurricane-force winds, are at risk of flooding and have adequate backup power to continue operating during storms.