New Orleans sees '08 as a tipping point in recovery

Reported by Associated Press

The way Mayor Ray Nagin sees it, 2008 is a tipping point in New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the year when a stronger, better city begins to rise in earnest from the ruins.

Residents want to believe.  They look optimistically for construction crews, neighborhood investment and homecomings of neighbors 28 months after the storm.  They also worry about housing, crime and rising cost of living.  Like the city itself, they are near a tipping point.

An economist at the University of New Orleans says 2008 is the year when the future of New Orleans is going to be determined.

Nagin believes New Orleans is moving toward becoming a better city.  After focusing on restoring services, stabilizing city finances and planning for the future, his administration is bracing for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid expected to bankroll neighborhood reconstruction.  He told the City Council recently that the city is -- quote -- "getting ready to explode."

Unfolding events in 2008 will be telling, including public education reform, construction of affordable housing, rebuilding public infrastructure and attracting big bucks in corporate investment.