Will Government Bulldoze New Orleans-Area Homes?

Steve Inskeep asks Polly Boudreaux, clerk of council for Louisiana's Saint Bernard Parish, whether the rumors that Colleen and Donald Bordelon have heard about bulldozing large parts of the parish are true.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

After these three finished that conversation, we did as promised and checked up on the rumor that so upset the Bordelons. The rumor was that their neighborhood and even the home they're trying to rebuild would all become green space. This week, the St. Bernard Parish Council is starting to decide how it wants to rebuild.

So we called Polly Boudreaux, who is the clerk of council. Welcome to the program.

Ms. POLLY BOUDREAUX (Clerk, St. Bernard Parish Council): Thank you.

INSKEEP: So the fear here that a lot of the homes will be torn down in that part of St. Bernard Parish will become green space of some kind. Is that true?

Ms. BOUDREAUX: Tell me the area that you're indicating?

INSKEEP: Between Judge Perez, which I'll explain is one of the major streets there.

Ms. BOUDREAUX: Yes.

INSKEEP: And the back levees. Basically we're talking about the northern half of the parish.

Ms. BOUDREAUX: I would guess that it's even more than a half. It would wipe out most of the living areas if that rumor were actually true. It is not. There are sections within that geographical area that have been indicated for purchase by Hazard Mitigation monies, which is the green space monies. But no plan has come through this office that would indicate a widespread buyout from Judge Perez all the way to that (unintelligible) levee.

INSKEEP: It sounds like the Bordelons down the line might have something to worry about, depending on what plan is put in place. And it sounds like it might almost be a street-by-street thing. If everybody else on their street stays, they'll probably never be forced to leave. But if everybody on their street leaves except them, maybe somebody would come and say, you know, you oughta get outta here.

Ms. BOUDREAUX: Right. You know, at this point, it's still a little bit too early because there's so many decisions that will be made that are completely out of local government's control. We have to wait for the process to take place.

INSKEEP: When this process is all over, do you expect St. Bernard Parish to be a radically different place than it was before Hurricane Katrina?

Ms. BOUDREAUX: It is already a radically different place for anybody who's lived here any amount of time. It's an incredibly different place. And you know, our best hope is that it will become a much better place to live, but we've got to go through quite a bit of reconstruction pains in order to get there and it's not an easy place to be in.

Polly Boudreaux, of the St. Bernard Parish Council, thanks very much for speaking with us.

Ms. BOUDREAUX: Thank you.

INSKEEP: You'll find previous talks with the Bordelons and Ronald Lewis on NPR.org.

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