How tragedy sometimes made NOLA a safer city

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NEW ORLEANS-- The old Downtown Howard Johnson Hotel is the site of one of the deadliest events in New Orleans history, the Mark Essex sniper attack.

In fact, our city has faced many deadly events in it's history and most times we've come out better on the other side.

Dr. Raphael Cassimere, retired UNO history professor says, "There's also the fire of 1788.  About 80% of the populated city burned down, but it recovered then 6 years later there was another fire in 1794 people rebuilt and one of the things that happened is that in most tragedies they kinda learned from mistakes."

Even back then our city learned to build back and help prevent and fight fires as best they could.  Disease also killed many in our city and what we came to know over time was the unlikely way some of those illnesses were spread.

"They didn't find that out until early 19th century mosquito carriers were largely responsible for the yellow fever epidemic," said Cassimere.

In the modern era New Orleans again faced tragedy.  On November 29, 1972 a deadly fire at the Rault Center building resulted in building code changes across the city.

"It did, in fact, begin to require buildings to have sprinklers. They grandfathered some but then others required to retrofit so with tragedy you learn from it move on and try to do something that's going to lessen the impact of it in the future," said Cassimere.

A decade later in 1982 Pan Am Flight 759 crashed on takeoff at what is now Armstrong International Airport(MSY), killing everyone onboard.  The result of which created more change for the better.

Cassimere says, "The so-called micro-burst or wind shear that was not easily detected, but they learned from that and now there is sophisticated equipment that allows you to detect it."



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