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Will Hurricane Isaac Have an Impact on Saints' Future in New Orleans?

Peter AlfanoContributor IIAugust 30, 2012

New Orleans residents have learned to weather the storm.
New Orleans residents have learned to weather the storm.

A woman in line ahead of me at a local Target store in Birmingham told the cashier she was from New Orleans. She evacuated to be with family in Alabama until it was safe to return home.

That might be a while, as she learned that officials were going to purposely overflow the levee in her area to prevent even more damage from flooding.

A lot of people are breathing easier today because while Hurricane Isaac wasn't as powerful as Katrina, it covered a wider area and moved slower than a world-class marathon runner.

But while damage to the city of New Orleans and the Superdome was minimal seven years after Katrina almost wiped the Big Easy from the map, you have to wonder about the long-term impact on the economy of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.

And that includes the New Orleans Saints.

It has already been a difficult year for the Saints with Bounty Gate, the year-long suspension of coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, and the protracted contract talks with quarterback Drew Brees, but another dangerous hurricane makes all of that pale in comparison.

I watched the Weather Channel almost non-stop since Sunday, wondering how New Orleans would fare this time. I saw people interviewed who said enough is enough and they plan to move.

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Even before Hurricane Katrina struck seven years ago, New Orleans was not an affluent city. Life revolved around Bourbon Street and the tourist trade. Decadence and jazz lured hundreds of convention visitors, and Mardi Gras was known all over the country.

Katrina's impact was devastating, and many residents relocated to parts of Texas and other states after losing everything but their lives. Now, the question is, how many more New Orleans residents will pack up and seek higher ground?

No one is immune to natural disasters. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards come with the territory in most cities with professional sports teams. But until "the Big One" hits southern California, it is doubtful that people will flee any city because of the wrath of Mother Nature.

Will that be the case in New Orleans? Fans and non-fans alike will rally around the Saints and Brees, the only wind welcomed there. The Super Bowl will be played in the Superdome in February, and everyone will pay homage to the resiliency and courage of New Orleans natives who refuse to be washed away by wind and rain.

Isn't that what they do in Los Angeles when the ground moves? Isn't it the way folks in Oklahoma rebuild after still another tragic tornado?

There was plenty of speculation that the Saints were headed to the City of Angels after Katrina.

There was talk they might stay in San Antonio, which was the team's temporary home.

Owner Tom Benson did not take the easy way out after Katrina. He silenced the speculation and made a commitment to keep the Saints in New Orleans.

Let's hope Hurricane Isaac won't weaken his resolve.

Nothing will be more reassuring to the city's residents than when the Saints come marching into the Superdome on Sept. 9 for their first game on the NFL season. 

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