Historic trust rallies to preserve damaged New Orleans buildings





There will be no rush to judgment on the approximately 100,000 buildings in New Orleans damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and there will be no demolitions without public review. "The vast majority of those structures can be saved," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who toured the city this week. "I'm confident we can avoid the wholesale demolition some of us were worried about."

Moe's comments came at the beginning of a meeting yesterday in Baton Rouge, La., with dozens of federal, state and local experts in historic preservation and cultural resources.

The trust, which convened the meeting and opened it to reporters around the country via conference call, announced it will try to raise $1 million to help pay for building assessments, which will be done by 100 teams of inspectors, each of which will include a preservation specialist. The assessments are expected to take about two months.

"Everything is proceeding very cautiously, methodically, legally and with every consideration for preservation," said a New Orleans historic preservation officer who did not give his name.

Some of the "shotgun" houses in the 9th Ward were submerged for more than a month following Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and survived.

The key, one expert said, will be moving quickly, after the water recedes, to dry out the buildings, remove carpets, drywall and insulation, and prevent mold and rot.


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