© Rick WoodThis Wednesday I will be traveling back to New Orleans to continue my work with the Do You Know What It Means project. I love everything about New Orleans, so I was taken aback when I came across this troubling bit of news in the Saturday Times-Picayune:
St. Paul Travelers Cos. Inc., Louisiana's largest commercial insurance provider, plans to cancel all its commercial property policies in the New Orleans area next year, sparking fears that other insurers will follow and slow the region's economic recovery...This is a devastating turn of events for a city and a community that was just beginning to embrace a cautious optimism about their future. That the levees are not reliable should come as no surprise given the White House's own ironically triumphant assessment that "today, almost the entire flood protection system around New Orleans has been restored to its pre-Katrina level."
State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, who was tipped off about Travelers' plans Wednesday night by the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, said he was stunned by the news. When he met with Travelers on Thursday, he was equally stunned by the stated reason for the company's retrenchment.
"They cited the state of the rebuilding of our levee system as the primary reason for their decision," Donelon said.