There’s probably nothing more important to New Orleans’ survival than getting its story told accurately and completely to the rest of the country and world.

The University of New Orleans has rendered an important service by showing how dramatically “off” most people’s perception of New Orleans are.

Here’s what the rest of the country believes about the city:

1. 60% believe that most New Orleanians still live in temporary housing

2. 33% believe that only 1 out of 10 local restaurants have re-opened. (Actually, there are now more restaurants in New Orleans now than before the levee failures.)

3. 33% believe that the French Quarter was the hardest hit and remains closed to this day

4. 25% believe that parts of the city are still flooded

5. Because of this misinformation, less than 33% of all frequent travelers plan to visit New Orleans in the next two years.

Bad news for a city that relies on tourism for a large part of its revenue and needs tourism now more than ever.

The good news is that the vast majority of Americans still care about the city and realize it has not been treated fairly. 75% of those polled said they believe the rebuilding of New Orleans is as important a funding priority as funding the Iraq War.

The American public’s sympathy for New Orleans has already proven essential for its rebuilding and will remain so for many years to come. This sympathy is an asset worth many, many billions of dollars.

What are local political leaders doing to cultivate and keep it alive?

As is the answer to most questions about the city’s political buffoons: next to nothing.

To see the full study, click here.

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