A member writing on the Google Groups thread asks why Google replaced its maps to satellite imagery that was taken prior to Hurricane Katrina. He says:
How do I get Google's attention to complain that the maps of New Orleans have been replaced with Pre-Katrina maps? I think it's just reprehensible. People across the world have access to the Google Maps tool to get a look at how things are in any given area, and they should be able to see the blue roofs, the lack of traffic and activity in areas, etc.
The sentiment was resoundingly against Google's choice of restoring its images to much older data. A Google representative responded to this complaint and says:
I wanted to let you all know that your feedback about the satellite imagery in New Orleans is very important to us, and we've updated Google Maps and Google Earth to show more recent data of the area. You can read more about this change at the Google Blog at http://googleblog.blogspot.com/
According to the Google blog post, Google has restored the data:
Nevertheless, we recognize the increasingly important role that imagery is coming to play in the public discourse, and so we're happy to say that we have been able to expedite the processing of recent (2006) aerial photography for the Gulf Coast area (already in process for an upcoming release) that is equal in resolution to the data it is replacing.
There are still a few gaps, according to a member (Bay St. Louis and Mississippi Gulf Coast regions), but Google played the right deck of cards here.
Discussion continues in Google Groups.