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 Katrina Stories


I was born in New Orleans in 1980 and have lived here my entire life. When Katrina hit I lived with my boyfriend and my brother in a house we rented in Lakeview right next to my mom. Needless to say, we lost everything we ever had. The water was 9 feet high, up to the eve of the houses and not much was able to be salvaged. You don't hear much about what happened in Lakeview. The media wants to focus more on the 9th ward. You don't even really hear much about St. Bernard Parish which was completely wiped out. (For those of you not from this state, a parish is the equivelent to a county)

But I'm getting off of the subject here. Lakeview was once a beautiful and pristine neighborhood of New Orleans, and contrary to popular belief, not filled with rich people. For those of us who have rented our whole lives, had no renter's insurance, and had a middle to lower class income, life since the storm has been exceptionally hard. When my family and I left the day before the storm hit, I had $20 in my pocket. Were it not for my grandfather, none of us would've been able to leave. Unfortunately, my 50 year old cousin, who also lived in Lakeview, did not want to leave. He rode out Hurricane Betsy and didn't think it would be that bad. When the levees broke he was trapped in his attic for days. Thankfully he was rescued by the state police later on.

We went to Shreveport first, then to Minden, then to Houston, then to Dallas. We came very close to living out of my car due to lack of accomedations. The worst feeling in the world is finding out that you are homeless and have no where to go. When we came back to our beloved home and neighborhood, it broke our hearts. Lakeview looked like some distroyed ghost town out of a horror movie. The trees were brown and decayed, the ground was covered with dirt and mud from the canal where the levees broke, the walls of our home were covered, and I mean covered, in black mold, the furniture was displaced and it smelled of mildew. It was a nightmare. As renters without insurance coverage, my family had to rely heavily on FEMA.

My point for sharing my story with you is not to gain your sympathy, but to perhaps give those of you who did not go through this disaster a greater appriciation for the things that you have and an appriciation of the magnitude of what happened to this community, how many lives were lost and distroyed in a matter of hours. Seeing and hearing about it on t.v. does not do it justice. Unless you have been through this personally and seen it with your own eyes, you cannot begin to imagine or understand the terror and heartache Katrina brought to hundreds of thousands of people all over the gulf coast. So when you think that life is so unfair and things just aren't going right, remember us and the city that was almost unrecoverable.

Melissa
Friend
November 28, 2006




I created a website with my story from Katrina: http://www.katrinasurvivorla.com

Gerard
Friend
May 10, 2006




I have lived in New Orleans all 29 years of my life and experienced many storms. When Katrina was said to be the big one I didn't hesitate to leave. I packed my husband, daughter, mother, brother and a puppy we just got the week before. I left behind 3 cats and 1 dog because I didn't think that things were going to be too bad. We packed for only a couple of days because we figured we were going to be back before the week was out. We looked at it as a mini vacation! That Sunday we headed off to Houston to stay in a hotel for a couple of days. Of course it turned out to be a month in Houston which wasn't as bad as many others experienced. We met up with my mother & father-in-law and we were blessed by many from Houston. We were provided a house (no rent required) by someone we met on the street who through conversation found out that we were from New Orleans. Of course it wasn't home. So when Rita was projected to come to Texas that was our excuse to come back to LA. We came to Baton Rouge and stayed with my aunt in her 2 bedroom apartment. When we finally got the ok to come home, my husband & I drove home to see what Katrina left us. We stayed in the Carrollton area and we had atleast 5 feet of water in our home. What happened to the animals you asked? Well, after well over a month of nasty water & no food the animals were still alive! Unfortunately we couldn't take them back with us so instead we brought them upstairs to my mother's house. We traveled from Baton Rouge to our home every week to make sure they had food and were doing ok until we could find housing in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, the cats didn't survive however the dog along with the puppy are now living in a home we found in Baton Rouge. I am definitely coming back home once we finish remodeling! There is NO place like New Orleans. Often imitated but never duplicated! Of course being in Baton Rouge you rarely see Tulane so every chance I get I have to wear something Tulane to represent my history! GO WAVE!! University College 5/05

Stephanie Fontenette
Student
March 20, 2006




 

I left my home in Dallas for New Orleans early on the Friday before the storm hit. I wanted to make sure I would arrive in time to go to the Saints preseason game that was being played that night at the Superdome. I made it on time, or course, and went to the game. I remember before I entered the stadium, I looked up at it, watched glow under the orange lights amidst a dark blue evening sky. I even sent my friend back home a text message telling her of the beauty on display before me. Inside, the Dome was as clean as I had ever seen it. There was no trash on the floor, and the seats were all clean. The odor of staleness and years of bad football memories wasn't there. New jumbotron screens made the Dome truly magnificent. It was going to be a fine season no doubt, win or lose, because the Superdome was in better shape than ever. It's hard to imagine that 3 days later, that same prisine building would become the center of the country's largest humanitarian disaster in years. I still can't believe that a place of hope would became a place of such dispair and disgust. Let's fix her back up, and play ball.

Rusty Shackleford
Student
March 06, 2006




I arrived at Tulane Hospital a couple of days after the storm, totally unexpectedly to me until hours before our departure. We flew in on a Blackhawk helicopter in the middle of the night, and I can still see the flashlights waving at me from the rooftops below; I can only pray that they all made it out in due time. I spent the next day or so helping with the evacuation of the hospital before boarding the last chopper out to Covington. I wonder how everyone made out? Did any of y'all go back that were there? I see that Mel Lagarde is doing a lot of work with reconstruction. I hope to make it back some day...with my family so they can see where we were. I need to see New Orleans and Tulane Hospital as it is supposed to be seen, not waterlogged and apparently dying. Maybe I'll see some familiar faces and lift a beer to those who moved on and never went back. Maybe we can talk without having to shout to be heard over the choppers. Time will tell. You folks stay strong and know that we're pulling for you.


Not important
Friend
February 20, 2006 




I worked at Tulane for almost 9 years before my recent lay off in January. The night before the hurricane the electricity went out at my house and was not restored until 5 days later. We had no clue that the levees had broken in New Orleans until the following Friday. Between the morning of the hurricane and the week following, 24 family and friends showed up to live with us for approximately 1 1/2 months. We shared everything! We had a routine for bathrooms, dinner, and sleeping. That was fine. The sadness began when we actually had to travel outside of our town to purchase water, food, ice and gas, all of which were in short supply. On one occassion, my daughter and I visited the local Winn Dixie and waited 2-3 hours in line for just ice and water. After finally entering the store, I learned that the ice had been sold out. Because I hadn't eaten since the day before (food was scarce at home), I immediately fell to the floor in dispair. I cried. Soon after, the announcement was made that more ice was being brought into the store from the receiving area. Too weak to head for it, I asked my 14 yr old daughter to run as fast as she can and bring back 4 bags of ice. Folks were fighting and screaming over the items. It was a very sad day. I had never asked my children, or allowed my children to behave in such a manner. But desperate times called for desperate actions. And ya'll, WE WERE DESPERATE! We had no clue when we were going to eat food, drink water, get ice or gas again.


Nina Santa Marina
Student
February 17, 2006 




I was a foreign student during 2004-2005. I stayed for the summer and fall semesters near the downtown campus,but ,of course, I was unaware of the enormous impact of a hurricane.As I was studying until August 26, the notice of Katrina only reached me on Saturday 27, at 7 pm. I could´t leave.I knew that some of my aquaintances were safe in other places, which was good, and they could be aware of me staying at the apartment.So, I stayed alone for the most frightening experience of my life.I had never seen such fury in any natural disaster, the sound was incredible,the windows trembled all night long, the heavy rain, the strenght of the wind almost knocked me down on monday morning.It stopped at 6 pm. And then ,the flooding began. For 3 days I kept moving from my apartment, on the second floor of the building, to the roof; finally a couple of men rescued me on a boat. I had to leave them, because I wanted to get to the Superdome to get help, food and water. On the morning of September 2, I met a wonderful family while waiting at the I-10 for evacuation,they adopted and protected me, they fed me with their meals and gave me water. I never knew their last name, so I haven´t been able to thank them, because ,thanks to them, I was rescued by a baptist pastor.He took us to Baton Rouge, where my husband and brother found me. They flew from my country to get me back home to my children. I still miss New Orleans, Tulane; I learned a lot about people in extreme circumstances, in the will to survive and in the strenght of Tulanians.I am grateful for the opportunity of having been a part of you, to see your recovery and to share your spirit.


PAMELA VASQUEZ
Student
February 15, 2006 




August 22, 2005,we arrived at my son Craig's house on Broadway for the first time. He's a sophomore and the anticipation of moving into this house was so exciting. We spent the next 4 days with his roommmates and their parent's making it perfect. On Friday the 26th, we could breathe a sigh of relief, all that was left to do on the 27th was go foodshopping, boy were we in for a suprise, what we had to do was evacuate New Orleans, we went to Miami, Craig drove in a caravn to Houston, planning to return to school by the latest Septemeber 6. So Craig and his firends took a 12 hour ride , which they just looked at as a road trip to Houston and we flew to Miami, Katrina had already been there, my daughter is UMiami student. Well we went to sleep that Monday night thinking all was well, boy were we wrong again. The levees breached and then the announcement, Tualne would be closed for the semester. Craig left his car in Houston, flew to Miami, with a backpack, his laptop and beloved IPOD, nothing else. we took him to buy some clothing and he told us he felt like he lost his home. We went out for dinner, he put his head on the table and cried. we told him as parenst that he needed to pick himself up and do something worthwhile. So knowing the popularity of the Live Strong Bracelets and with permission from President Cowen,, Craig purchased a web domain for a year and made a website, designed a few bracelets and had people vote for the one they liked best, this was all being done through facebook at this point. We backed him 100 per cent financially on this and so far he has sold almost 2000 bracelets and raised $8000.00. He's gotten some publicity which has helped with the sales, President Cowen has one as do the memberof the Commission to Bring Back New Orleans. He hasn't reached his goal of $10,000 yet, but hopes to get there. You can visit his website at savetulane.com and see what he did while he spent his miserable semester at he University of Miami dodging more hurricanes, but he's back at his house on Broadway and thrilled to be there.


Lori Karger
Friend
February 10, 2006 




I "lived" in Chalmette in St. Bernarded my entire life and now everythign I know is gone! I evacuated for the Hurricane the Saturday before and my family and our 3 dogs and hamster drove for 15 hours to greenville, ms in the middle of nowhere. After living in about 7 different places and sharing 3 bedroom homes with 3o plus ppl I am more than happy to be back to school at Tulane. When i was finally able to get back to my home i found it completely ruined having been inudated by about 15 ft of water for weeks. My family was fortunat eenough to find an apartment in the new orleans area and now we are about to be evicted because one of our dogs is "too big". So the 7 of us will now move out of this 2 bedroom apartment and into a 30 ft trailor in devastated Chalmette. Th eonly thing keeping my sane is going to class at Tulane!


Christine Schwab
Student
February 04, 2006 




The friday night before Hurricane Katrina hit, my boyfriend and I went to a friend's birthday party. The talk of the party was on anything but a hurricane. We went to bed friday night expecting for a normal weekend. Saturday morning, I received a phone call from my grandmother. We had no idea that people we evacuating. Brad and I packed up the car and left for lafayette. In the past four years in New Orleans, we have evacuated, or had a hurricane warning 4 other times. For some reason, this time I took my laptop, our ipods, my jewelry, and other valuable things. In the four previous hurricane attempts on New Orleans, not once did we pack anything up. Some how, we knew this time would be different. We returned 7 weeks later to find our house had received 6 feet of water from the street level up. Pretty much nothing was savable. Elizabeth Patton,class of 2005 Brad Petit, class of 2004


Elizabeth Patton
Student
February 03, 2006




My first day at Tulane was exactly 10 years to the day that Katrina hit. Over the past 10 years, New Orleans has become my home. I have graduated from both Tulane and Xavier, and have begun to raise my two children here. We had evacuated to Little Rock for the hurricane. It was difficult to come back to New Orleans. It still is difficult. . . but this is home. All alums, please remember your time here, and DO NOT forget us. We are working very hard to bring New Orleans back. Please contact your state representatives and GWB. DO NOT let THEM forget.


Summer Townsend Troxclair
Student
February 01, 2006 




 

I arrived at New Orleans about two days before Katrina made landfall. Having traveled from all the way across the globe, I did not know that there was a hurricane headed towards New Orleans. So, I ended up staying with my girlfriend, who is my fiance now at the airport for five days. It was a humbling experience. But, out of the destruction, we find creation and glory.


Jing Bae
Student
January 31, 2006 




I was very fortunate to have fled the day prior to HKatrina's devastating affect on the city and surrounding areas. I was not, however, so fortunate as to have suffered no personal loss. My aunt remained in the city, determined to "ride it out," - as many did. The resulting loss of lives will be with those of us who survived for the rest of our lives. My Aunt Nelia, a sweet, 88 year old, lost her life after the bedroom ceiling, saturated with heavy rain water, fell in and crushed her skull! The lesson here, heed all warnings, whether you deem them real or not! I've read other tragic details of "could've, should've and would'ves!" No amount of experience or wishing and hoping and praying delayed the inevitable in this regard: HsKatrina/Rita were DUE in New Orleans and the aftermath bespeaks volumes as to the wrath of Nature. An indelible stain has been left on New Orleans. A stain of obstince over reason, carelessness in the face of danger. Lest we forget, let us learn from this, and daresay, future disasters, so that we might ALL have to opportunity to evacuate in a timely, orderly manner so as to make the recovery and return efforts uniquely Orleanian!


Luther Jackson
Student
January 29, 2006 




I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO BEGINNING THE NEW SEMESTER AND IN THE DAYS BEFORE I WAS BUSY GETTING ORGANIZED. BUT KATRINA APPROACHED LIKE A REALIZATION OF A BAD OMEN AND EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT IN NEW ORLEANS(I LIVE ON THE WESTBANK)I FELT AS MUCH APPREHENSION ABOUT IF SHE WOULD TURN IN TIME. I WAS ALONE WITH 6 CATS ON A SECOND FLOOR APARTMENT DURING WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THE END OF THE WORLD. MY FAITH IN GOD WAS WITH ME DURING THE STORM AND AFTERWARD WHEN YOU LEARN THE TRUE MEANING OF SURVIVAL.


JUDITH PRIESTER
Student
January 29, 2006 

 


I evacuated to Lafayette, LA for five weeks, returning on Oct. 9, 2005. My home had no damage or flooding. New Orleans was strange, especially at night. There was complete silence; no traffic, sirens , barking dogs, no streetcar, no birds, nothing. It was perfect solitude, like being on an island alone....School Of Architecture, Class Of l975


Jeffrey H. Goldman
Friend
January 29, 2006




I was pumped about being a senior at Tulane, filling my days with rugby practice and driving ambulances. I had become a part of two EMS organizations in New Orleans: a volunteer for Tulane EMS (TEMS) as well as an employee of New Orleans EMS (the 911 responce service for the city). As a member of New Orleans EMS, I was required to stay in the city for the hurricane. I was in the Hotel Montleone in the Quarter when Katrina rolled through. Then we hopped onto I-10 and into boats to help pull people off the rooftops. I was then stationed at the Superdome for two whole days. My bosses and fellow employees finally made it to a Westbank nursing home, Our Lady of Wisdom, on Wednesday, August 31. I took part in the bitter-sweet evacuation of the Convention Center on Saturday, September 3. On Monday, Septer 5, I returned to campus to find my car inaccessible, so I borrowed a canoe from Tulane Facility Services and canoed to my apartment at Broadway and Claiborne. I was off to LSU to take classes during the week but returned to New Orleans every weekend to work. All of this due to a simple EMT class I took freshman year. Funny how things turn out.


Michael Finnern
Student
January 27, 2006 

 


I spent the semester starting and operating the NOLA Hurricane Fund with my peers Adam Hawf, Kevin Lander, and Aaron Rubens. It proved both interesting and rewarding. I am extremely happy to be back; I am convinced Tulane and New Orleans have the opportunity to become better than ever.


Stephen Richer
Student
January 27, 2006








There is no way that my story even compares to others written here, as I was in Washington, DC at the time; however, my heart was there and it continues to be there. Honestly, when I first heard on the news about the approach of Katrina, I didn't think much of it. I had remembered being on Tulanes campus during a few hurricanes and nothing major ever happened except for the one time that Willow Street was flooded to the point that I could actually swim in it, but that subsided and life in New Orleans went along as normal; however, Katrina news reports became more ominous, and I began contacting my Tulane friends to see what they were going to do. My best friend stayed through the storm with his family at a hospital in Kenner, but eventually made it to Houston in following days. My other friends also made it to Houston. I am happy to say that all of my friends returned to New Orleans shortly after Katrina hit and I visited them over Halloween. Despite what they had been through, they were all in good spirits. In fact, it was them who cheered me up when I visited and saw the wreckage that Katrina left behind. My heart goes out to all of you strong, brave Tulane students, faculty, & staff and residents of New Orleans. Your collective strength will rebuild a better & stronger city! Cheers to all and I am looking forward to Mardi Gras 2006! 

MD - Newcomb Class of '99
Friend
January 26, 2006



Freshman move-in day. Being a first year RA I was excited and since we'd been training - I didn't even realize until a couple days before that there was a storm headed our way. The morning of the storm, I was quoted to say "Dude, I just looked on the computer and the hurricane is totally gunna miss us." I technically wasn't wrong - the eye didn't hit NOLA, but the storm seemed like the size of the Gulf so it really didn't matter. Within a few hours of the beginning of move-in, the news came and we started accounting for where everyone was going. After a lot of running around and ensuring everyone had a place to be, I packed a duffel with about three days worth of clothes. Two fellow RAs and I evacuated to Houston - little did I know, we'd be spending the rest of the semester there, and be doing a 'domestic' semester abroad. On the whole, everything went smoothly and I'm very happy to be back HOME. My heart goes out to everyone who suffered greatly from this storm. This period of NOLA (and US) history will never be forgotten.


Shubho Sarkar
Student
January 26, 2006 


I had high hopes of attending Tulane for a full year before I finally arrived. I felt like something truly wonderful was happening to me and that all of my hard work had paid off. I evacuated the city with my family friday night, before the storn hit. I spent just enough time at Tulane to drop off everything that I owned. With the loss of money involved in retrieving my belongings, I now do not have the money I needed to live off while studying at Tulane. I am now attenfing Albion College in Michigan, but it will never compare to the opportunities that a Tulane education would have given me. I pray that Tulane and New Orleans have a miraculous recovery, when I saw the city in December I wept. Maybe I will be able to be a part of it all again someday, who knows, maybe Tulane Law!


April Yost
Friend
January 25, 2006 


I was baffled to find that the second I had finished unpacking all of my belongings, it was time to head back home! It didn't make sense to me, but I just thought it was precaution stuff and spent the day downtown in the French Quarter and Jackson Square. After sleeping the night at my aunt and uncle's house in Mandeville the night of the 27th, we took off around noon the 28th, only to find traffic had caused the drive to Jackson, MS, 9 hours!! It was the worst traffic I have ever seen! Once in Jackson, I had to say a quick goodbye to my parents and head with my aunt and uncle to Oklahoma (to get away from the crowds). After a week traveling around Oklahoma and Texas, and visiting a friend in Austin, I decided I needed to find a place to study. I decided on Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, TX...and it was an excellent decision! I met amazing people, wonderful professors and grew in my relationship with God. I am glad to be back at Tulane, and helping rebuild NOLA, but Katrina sure did mess with my plans. :)


Nathaniel Berrios
Student
January 25, 2006


I was on the last Saturday night Southwest flight out of New Orleans to Orlando right before the storm. What can I say? I thought I was going home for a random weekend, the storm was going to turn and I'd be back at Tulane in no time. And then the storm hit- and the levees broke. I sat in front of the TV crying. Anytime my parents mentioned me figuring out what I was supposed to do I just couldn't think about it. Finally it dawned on me that I'd have to do something- so I took a few classes, got an internship and a job. I think that these past few months changed me, changed everyone. Now that I'm back, when I see people who I barely knew last year we are excited to see one another. Despite the changes to Tulane and how they affect us all- we're glad to be back and we're glad to see one another. Things have changed, and that change is palpable. Yet, I think ultimatley we're going to be ok. We're all adjusting to the differences, but I for one won't be taking this place for granted.


Ally Halperin
Student
January 25, 2006 


My first experience at Tulane was short-lived. My parents and I drove to New Orleans on the Friday before Katrina. Saturday Morning, at 9, we moved all of my stuff into my dorm. Looming in the news was Hurricane Katrina. Initially, my family and I did not think much of it. Then, at 11, we were told to evacuate. Under the impression that I would be back in a week, my family and I went to buy a refrigerator at Wal-Mart. The scene at Wal-Mart was pandemonium. After delivering the fridge to my dorm room, we evacuated to Jackson (with nearly everything left in my dorm), where my dad has a cousin. We stayed the night with him, drove home the next day, and watched the wrath of Katrina with the rest of the world. I was speechless and amazed. Once I determined that it was improbable that classes would be held for that semester, I began exploring my options of where I could go to school for the semester or perhaps for the rest of my college career. Ultimately, I decided Washington University in St. Louis. And the Saturday after Katrina, my parents, brother, and I were off to WashU, never having step foot in the city, let alone the campus. Turns out, I absolutely loved WashU, made some great friends, and took some great classes. I will forever cherish my time at WashU. I had a successful first college semester, however, I was more than ready to come down and redo my first Tulane experience. So here I am, at Tulane, on January 25th, and loving every minute of it. We have such a unique and amazing opportunity here, and I will try my best to take full advantage of it. Thank you for your time. Success and Happiness, Stephen Frapart.


Stephen Frapart
Student
January 25, 2006 


Our son attends Tulane (junior), and my husband & I were in New Orleans helping him move into a house when we all were evacuated for Hurrican Katrina. Our son had been evacuated in the fall of 2004 for Hurricane Ivan & spent 5 days in Texas. At the time we all left the city, my husband and I headed north and our son traveled west, fully anticipating a short delay to the start of the fall term. It took my husband & I 16 hours to travel to the Arkansas border and find a motel for resting. Our son spent 4 days in Baton Rouge in an apartment (14 people, dogs, cats, no power). Needless to say, it became evident that no one would be returning to New Orleans (or Tulane) for quite some time. My husband & I think of you in our prayers everyday and our hearts go out to all from that area (including Mississippi Gulf Coast where we had previously spent a wonderful vacation). We are hoping to take a leave of absence from our jobs in northern MI and return to help in any way in rebuilding New Orleans and/or cleaning up, etc. I think the Tulane volunteer day on 1/21 was a great encouragement for students and others. Keep the faith!


s.p.
Friend
January 24, 2006 


On August 29, 2005, at 12:30 a.m., I was awake when Hurricane Katrina hit. It seems like it happened yesterday. Personally, I thought it was going to be a simple hurricane that would last at least a couple of hours or so. But, I was wrong! The hurricane lasted for 15 hours and 43 minutes! My family and I suffered through out this hurricane without having power and water. A couple days later, we were relocated to Batesville, MS. And on top of that, I had the opportunity to attend the University of Mississippi after finding out that Tulane wasn't going to have Fall Classes of 2005. I cried my eyes out after I found that out. But right now, I am very happy to be back home and most of all, back to Tulane. As of now, my house is fixed and I am very happy that we all made it through Hurricane Katrina. But, it destroyed my house such as I had four feet of water inside my house and on top of that, I lost my living room set and bedroom set as well. As a result, I will never forget this experience that I've been through from Hurricane Katrina.


Felastine Abuathieh
Student
January 23, 2006 


Hurricane Katrina hit me like a brick wall. I had just finished 3 months of residential special needs camp. It was an exhausting process to say the least. Rewarding though. Katrina, on television looked like a monster. My father and I were glued to the television. I was, at the same time, getting ready to go to England for my junior year. I know my experience doesn't compare at all to most. I didn't lose my chance at a regular year. But I lost my home. Leaving and arriving in another country without anywhere to look back to is a very scary experience. I made it though and, despite many who tried to comfort me, I decided to fight onwards. I got myself involved in clubs my classes, anything to take my mind of what had happened. I made the Manchester University basketball team, one of my favorite accomplishments, and I by and by found friends and comfort. I write to you today a stronger man for having gone through it and thank God the people and community of Tulane was there to see me through. They fought as I fought. I will continue to fight for the spirit of Tulane has risen up in me and I thank God for each and everyone of you who is connected to Tulane or who has ever been a part of the university.


Keenan Manetta-Dillon
Student
January 21, 2006 


 

A few hours before mandatory evacuation was declared in Orleans Parish my wife, son, dog and I left the city along with my elderly parents who happened to be in town visiting us. This particular evacuation was a success with excellent traffic contraflow plans in place. Despite the inevitable traffic delays and problems with gas, despite the lack of hotel reservations and the uncertainties of finding a shelter for the night, we were among those fortunate to have had the means to leave the city before Katrina hit the coast. We eventually watched the destruction on TV and heard of the levee breaks with stunned dismay from the relative safety of a hotel room in Jackson, MS. Then Katrina howled through Jackson, we lost power and found ourselves fleeing west. Feeling the force of the gale that rattled the seventh floor of our hotel room, we could only wonder what it must have been like before its fury was tamed to a Category One.


Gaurav Desai
Faculty
January 19, 2006 


There is a story to be told around the travels of the Tulane Financial Aid Offices this fall. At the beginning of Oct., the financial aid offices from the main campus, the Law School and the Health Sciences Center came together in Houston. A number of the people in this group had experienced great losses in the storm but like troopers, they answered the call to muster! Our files traveled with us and the stories of retrieving them from the three offices at that point are quite something. The petite Director of Financial Aid from the Law School became a trucker for the trip to Houston, sitting behind the wheel of a big U-Haul full of boxes. The truck, by the way, had to be obtained in Houston and brought to New Orleans since there were none here. When the files arrived at our temporary quarters (more temporary than we knew), everyone - Directors and all - rolled up their sleeves and unloaded boxes. After several days it became apparent that our computer systems would not be able to function through the firewalls in this building, so it was time to hit the road again! Enter another truck, everyone down to the loading dock, and here we go again. At our next home, we unloaded once again and settled into our furniture-less offices. After a few days, we had tables and chairs and laptops - Yay! And so it went as we got to work and stayed there until mid-November when, you guessed it, we loaded yet another truck. This is a loyal and persistent group who pushed through adversity and loss of loved ones, possessions, and the way of life they had known and proved they could meet the challenge before them.


Patricia Hinds
Staff
January 19, 2006



We held out till the last moment. On Sunday evening, 8/29/05, we finally packed up and left for Dallas where we had hotel reservations. After four hours and one car accident (there were many car accidents on the interstate and evacuees were acting as if they were losing their collective minds) we decided to abandon Dallas plans and pulled over to sleep in the parking lot of Baton Rouge Courtyard Marriot. There a kind Minnesotan offered us one of his rooms free when he learned of our plight. There we lived for nearly a month constantly trying to find friends, family, co-workers, not knowing what happened to many of those we care about. Baton Rougians were wonderfully understanding to all of us, and it was in the Marriott where I finally got to know some of my neighbors, who had lived close by for so many years, yet I didn't know existed. The first week of our exile in Baton Rouge was especially painful since it was during this time we awaited news on our friends who decided to weather out Katrina in their home in Lakeview, one block from the 17th Street breach. Their rationale was that they survived Betsy, so they can survive this. After learning of the breach, and with no viable means of communication, we feared the worst. After nearly a week of frayed nerves, we were overjoyed to discover they had made it to their rooftop and were rescued by boat and later looted a local Wal-Mart for a dry set of clothes. Although my mother and father both lost their homes (and Dad is now living with us), we are thankful that we had only minor damage to our property and our house is livable. My heart to everyone who endured the wrath of these storms and sincere thanks to everyone who went above and beyond to make our lives as comfortable as possible during our ordeals.


Christine Pellett
Staff
January 19, 2006 


New Orleans Evacuee to Return as Relief Worker Jeanny Keck The American Red Cross continues to help residents along the Gulf Coast who are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. A team of volunteers from Savannah is set to deploy next week. And in this group is an evacuee herself. Jeanny Keck is from New Orleans and going back to the city for the first time since the storm, as a volunteer. She had to evacuate to Savannah and she wants to give back to the people who helped her through her own evacuation. Keck isn't your typical volunteer. She weathered the storm at home. "I sat in my bed with a radio, a battery-powered radio, because there was no electricity, with my rosary beads, praying." She and her husband survived. But the next morning, they saw the devastation and the water rising and knew they had to leave. They started a treacherous journey toward family in Savannah. "As we were leaving, we were attacked by people with guns," she told us. As they traveled, they stopped at Red Cross shelters the whole way. "I can still remember my first stop. This woman came and hugged me and that's when the tears began." The last stop was at the Savannah Red Cross, where they got clothes and emotional support. "I don't sleep at night. I just keep thinking of those poor people." So now, she is sitting in Red Cross volunteer class so she can go back to New Orleans to help those left behind and give back to the people who helped her through this time. "I think it's important to have empathy for these people," she said. "And I think I can do that right now, having gone through it." Keck is the Executive Secretary in the French and Italian Department at Tulane University and she and her husband probably won't go back permanently until the school reopens. Her Red Cross group will deploy next week. Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com


Jeanny A. Keck
Staff
January 19, 2006 


 

I evacuated at 10:30 AM on the day before Katrina struck. I packed up my ill wife and four cats and evacuated in order to Hammond, Jackson, and finally to my sons home in Atlanta. He had just bought a home in Kenner and was in the process of selling his home in Atlanta when Katrina hit. When his neighbors in Atlanta discovered that he, his wife, daughter, four members of his wifes family, and I and my wife were evacuating to his empty house in Atlanta, they completely furnished the house with appliances, furniture, kitchen ware, linens, food, toiletries, &you name it. Unbelievable kindness. I returned to my sons home in Kenner, from which I personally helped in the gutting of my home in Metairie and that of my mother-in-laws, the upstairs of which is currently my temporary home while repairs are in progress. In the process, I ruptured a disc and underwent major back surgery the week of thanksgiving. My family and I are fine and grateful that all that was lost was simply stuff. Some really neat stuff that I really liked but, in the much bigger picture, just stuff! In looking back, I realize how much the welfare of Tulane and the plight of the students were on my mind during the post Katrina turmoil. I did not realize what Tulane meant to me until it was threatened in such a dramatic way. Although terribly saddened by the decision to drop (hopefully temporarily) certain engineering depts., I will continue to support the university financially. May God bless the university, its students, and staff. Frank (ME, Engr 81

Frank
Student
January 17, 2006 


Not only am I a student at Tulane, but I'm originally from N.O. as well. My family was displaced to Dallas for about a month and a half. Our garage and basement flooded, but my parents' house is raised pretty high, so water did not get into the house itself. I got back into N.O. 12 days after Katrina to see how bad everything really was. I drove back and forth 3 times from Dallas to New Orleans in the span of about 15 days to get stuff from my house that flooded on palmer and stuff from my parents' house. Then I went to Paraguay for 40 days to work for my dad, and, then, I came back to N.O. on Nov. 6th because I still had my job at a local restaurant that reopened on Oct. 17th. I'm really glad to be going back to school here and really glad that everyone is back for the most part. As bad as it still is, it is significantly better now than how it was a couple months ago, and it's only gonna get better from here.


Jeff Saint-Saens
Student
January 16, 2006 


It seems like this hurricane is joining the ranks of the various "Where were you when..."s already in place-when JFK was shot, when the Twin Towers fell, and when Katrina almost destroyed New Orleans forever. Personally, I was on the RA staff for one of the freshman dorms opening the Saturday of Move-in and evacuation. Of course, at 6am when I got up, I knew it was going to be a day of barely controlled chaos, but it turned out to be far more than I expected. First Housing had "no official statement" on the hurricane. Then, I heard President Cowen would be holding a meeting about the "current situation". An hour later, it became a meeting about "the evacuation"-at that point, we began telling freshman to put their things in the center of the room, don't unpack, and to please go somewhere with their parents if they could. The amazing Housing staff here managed to close campus a full half hour earlier than expected, giving us that extra edge in getting out of town. Ten minutes after the word was given for us to clear out, I, a co-worker, and two friends were all piled in my car with a few days' clothes at best. Since contra-flow was already in effect, we had to go an entirely new route to get home to Georgia, involving a north-ward path and a stop in Meridian. 18 hours later, we all poured out at my house and immediately crashed on any available furniture. After a few days, when word came out that we wouldn't be re-opening, we started school-hunting. We found Cornell pretty quickly-they were offering blanket admission to any displaced Tulane student, and a promise of housing and dining arrangements. Within 2 days, three of us got back in the car to make our second 18-hour drive in under 2 weeks. Everyone in Ithaca was wonderful and helpful in every way they could be, from getting us housing and food arrangements, to handing out gift cards to the bookstore so we could get supplies, to loaning out laptops for those of us without computers. Evacuation was an exciting, if not "good" experience, per se; Cornell was more than worthwhile. To be stranded for a semester, I think there was nowhere better to be-over 200 Tulanians made the same decision. However, for a place to come home to, Tulane and New Orleans could not have felt better. In many ways, it's not the same city we left - yet, in many ways it is. I would like to say thank you to the hundreds of people who helped pull this place back together just so we could come home-the administration, the housing staff, Tech Support for getting us up and running, and yes, even Belfor. Things might've gone missing, but they cleaned up a mostly-submerged expanse of land into a fully functional university campus, and for that they deserve thanks. To the hundreds of construction workers who've spent the last weeks and months laying new sidewalks, putting in new drywall, new furniture everywhere, laying sod and planting our green space back - and to anyone I missed. Thank you so much-we really do appreciate you.


Caroline
Student
January 13, 2006 


I want to thank President Cowen, Dean Marksbury and the wonderful University College staff for working so hard to have the abbreviated Fall 2005 Semester. Those 300 plus students who reprresented all of the Tulane student body from October 24 - December 13, 2005 were able to stay on track; continuing our education and adding the normalcy that became so important to our post-Katrina lives. Thank you.


LANA RODRIGUEZ
Student
January 12, 2006 


 

After only five hours spent at Tulane, I was evacuated. Yet over the past months I have become very proud of an institution I barely attended. After I realized I would not be returning to Tulane, I decided to spend my first semester volunteering with the relief effort on the Gulf Coast. I first spent two weeks working with Americas Second Harvest in Mobile, Alabama. I worked as a truck drivers assistant and lived in a house with 5 truck drivers. I then spent six weeks outside of Jackson, Mississippi with the Union for Reform Judaism's Jacobs' Ladder project. Both were amazing experiences. It was an awesome feeling to be able to see the devastation, and at the same time DO something about it. It's now time for me to do my part for New Orleans, and I can't wait.


Andrew Freeman
Student
January 12, 2006 


We were out of town for a quick two night trip when Hurricane Katrina struck.... and we could not return to get our cats Franco and Zooey. Through the kindness of strangers, and prayers, and desperate measures, we have them safe in our arms again. I found out about animal rescue agencies that I had never even heard of before -- groups that exist solely to save the lives of animals in the event of disasters. Like bestfriends.org, noahswish.org, uan.org. We are so grateful to all those who worked so hard to save animals in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Six days after the storm, Dave found Franco and Zooey in an animal shelter in Gonzales, La. (He went to several around South La.) He said horse stalls were filled with cages, with fans blowing on them to keep them cool, dogs were being walked, volunteers were petting animals all over the place. On the second day when Dave went to look in the Gonzales shelter, this time when he gave his address they directed him to the cat section.... said they had rescued some animals from Plum Street and remembered a tailless cat. Dave found Franco right away, said "Hi Franco," and the big orange one looked up and silently met his eyes. Dave opened the cage door, held up the carrier, and Franco walked right in -- no questions asked and ready to go home! But Zooey wasn't with Franco.... so Dave got on his hands and knees looking for her when a volunteer in the next stall shouted, "I think I found her!" Dave walked over, Zooey looked up and saw him and promptly started rolling in circles. There's another happy ending to this story. After leaving the shelter, Dave happened upon a tiny little black scrap of fur with a big meow, abandoned in a parking lot. Figured he ought to save a life, too.... so now Dave's mom, Mrs. Pat, has a new kitten she has named little Cane. We're all back in New Orleans now and we'll never leave them alone again. There are still animals all over the place, homeless dogs running around skinny with old collars on. People, if you can, take them in!


Katy
Staff
January 11, 2006 


Moved to N.O June 05, got a job at TC, worked for 2months, Hurricane Katrina hit N.O. When we evacuated to Lk.Charles only with 3days of clothing, myself, spouse, & 3children. Returned after 3mo. to find everything we owned destroyed...walls cracked, skylight busted out and clothing mildewed. Got lucky in finding a house, by accident, in Marrero, LA...children in school after attending only 4 weeks of education for this year, TC called me back to work with a promotion instored only due to someelse's misfortune. My family and I are now getting back on our feet to somewhat normal routines! We traveled 15 hrs to get to Shreveport and lucked out to finding a room for only 3 days and then traveled to Dallas, TX to reside with a relative. My children and I have slept in my vehicle, on family's floors, and hotels until all the money ran out. Spouse's job kept him away all through the storm,...but we made it---THANK GOD!


ANNA
Staff
January 11, 2006 


Hurricane Katrina has transformed my view of the world. Devastation and true hardship were no longer ideals merely viewed through a television--they were felt, and still are, in a first-hand fashion. Losing my home, hometown, elementary school, and high school to this disaster has made me feel as though my personal history has been erased--all but what remains in my mind. And, although this storm passed months ago, it still affects my life every single day. The gravity of it is overwhelming. It has made me broaden my views on life so much more than they were before. One aspect of my life that has changed greatly is my relationship with Tulane--it has grown even stronger now that it seems as though it is my only home in this area. I cannot wait to return this semester. Not a moment more of the time that I have left to spend on the campus will go unappreciated.


Ross Gonzales, Jr.
Student
January 11, 2006 


As a 3rd generation Newcomb alumnus and graduate of the Freeman MBA program, I watched with horror as Katrina swept through New Orleans, and worried and wondered about the state of the apartments, classrooms, restaurants, and hangouts that had been my world for my 5 years in New Orleans. Unfortunately, about 4 weeks later I got a first hand feel for the pain that comes from a natural disaster, as Hurricane Rita flooded part of my home in New Iberia, Louisiana. The Monday after the storm was spent unloading our belongings from the room that flooded, holding my breath as each box and item was carried out to evaluate its damage and relative importance. Amid the building materials and debris is a book about Tulane that was set out to dry. This book actually belonged to my grandfather, a journalist and history lover, who spent part of his career in public relations at Tulane. Of course I'm glad that the book was virtually unharmed by the floodwaters and will remain a part of my collection, just as I'm glad that Tulane University is rising from the floodwaters to remain an integral part of New Orleans and Louisiana.


Gwen Guillotte
Friend
January 11, 2006 


I arrived for my first semester at Tulane School of Public Health just hours before I had to evacuate because of katrina. Just long enough to move my belongings into Deming and to take a nap after my long drive from Phoenix, AZ. I decided that since I had to evacuate I would go on vacation for a few days in Miami... get some sun and then head back to New Orleans for the first day of orientation. I threw some clothes and my IPOD into my backpack and headed out. From that point on things got much worse instead of better. At the exact moment that I passed a port-o potty truck, two came unstrapped and landed on the hood of my new jeep, causing several thousand dollars worth of damage. Once I arrived in Miami, I realized that I would not be returning to New Orleans anytime soon, so I made the long journey through the northern states back to Arizona. I spend several weeks feeling low and somewhat depressed. My plans to attend a semester at George Washington fell through, I wasn't working, and I had none of my belongings with me. I eventually did some traveling to the East Coast to visit friends and family, and then returned to Arizona to fill in as an Algebra teacher at an inner city school that had a teacher quit mid-semester. In the end, I realized that there will always be an element of my life that I cannot control, and that it is SO important to keep material things in perspective. I'm now back in Deming, and dying to start my Masters degree and to be part of re-building the great city of New Orleans!


Angela Mitchell
Student
January 10, 2006 


Huricane Katrina changed my life. At first i thought for the worse, but later i would come to find out that was not completely true. I feel for all of the people whos lives were more drastically hurt by this storm then mine. From this hurricane however, i grew as an individual. I only now see how it has helped me, but it has most definetly made me a stronger person. I have learned more about who i am and what i want to do then i ever could have in college. Saying all that, i couldnt be happier to be heading back down to my new home tomorrow. I dont really know why, but i know that Tulane is the place for me and i cant wait to start this next chapter in my life.


Seth Cunningham
Student
January 10, 2006 


My husband, two cats, and elderly iguana spent the semester in Tuscaloosa, AL. We stayed with friends, and the university was very good to me. We have some dramatic photographs of the mold, if there's a way to upload digital images to this website?


Karen Taylor
Faculty
January 10, 2006 


Having applied on-line for the FEMA application process from Vicksburg,Ms.in September, as many other applicants having also discovered, the process for on-line registration was not intutitive. One glaring mistake I made was a typo by entering a wrong phone number in the house phone number field. I discovered this error from the hard-copy I had received in the mail about a week after I applied. My current phone number was correctly listed. But the typo mistake, no matter how many times I called to correct it, would later haunt me. Several times I called the FEMA telephone number to make the correction and eventually I became satisfied that the correction was made. In December I found out that I was denied a FEMA trailer back in October with an explanation of unfeasible but no reason given. One congressional inquiry later, one FEMA home visit later, and one damaged home phone number (as printed on the hard-copy of the FEMA registration documents I received in the mail) used as the contact phone number yielded this answer. Apparently, damanged house phone numbers are being used to contact applicants. This breakdown could explain how 50% of applicants are not able to be contacted--FEMA's own figures. I did a follow-up call to Congressman Jefferson and Senator Landrieu in the hope that information system consistancy in the area of contacting people will clear up this problem so others might be able to be contacted for accomodations with a FEMA trailer.


Margaret Dallosta
Staff
January 10, 2006 


I was lucky. At the time of Hurricane Katrina, I was living with my family in South Miami,FL. Hurricane Katrina was suppose to hit the county on top of us, but at the last minute swerved toward us. I think it was Thursday night and my entire family hunkered down in our tv room. It was a wet storm but not too windy; it was only a category 1 at the time. Me and my dad were doing flood duty in the front atrium of our house. I saw the storm from the outside. It was dark but the lighting really fell second to the torrential rain pounding on to us. It was so weird because sometimes when the lightning came at certain times, it was if the sky was teal blue. At points, the prevention of a flood seem futile, but we kept it up for an hour or two. The next morning there was hardly any damage or debree.Compared to the massively flooded areas and power shortages in other areas, we were spared. It was not long before the latest news report showed N.O.L.A. as the next target. The next couple of days were torture, a torture I know all too well. The waiting kind. I knew it was going to hit no matter how much I did not want it to. It turned slightly away when it got close, like when Katrina first hit Florida, but the damage was done. It could have been much worse, but what we had was bad enough. Tulane was spared and I was relieved, but only as far as one can be after so much. We were lucky, things could have been alot worse. We could of not cared at all. Dan McGinnis


Dan McGinnis
Student
January 10, 2006


When, on Saturday night, I found a lot of stores were closed already, I started to think, "Maybe I should bug out . . ." But I was reluctant to leave only to sit in traffic. In 2004, with Ivan, the second-raters who run the city and the state screamed that the sky was falling, and people sat on the highways for 8-12 hours -- all for nothing. Then Mayor Nagin declared a real, honest-to-Martha mandatory evacuation. My friend Miss Linda and I threw clothes into bags and cats into carriers, and got rolling. Rolling. Ha. It took us 12 hours to crawl 120 miles, up and through Baton Rouge. It was hot, frustrating, and unpleasant. In Gonzales, LA, where we made a pit stop, people were lining up to use any bathroom in a Burger King, no matter what the sign said on the door. By 10:30 that night I was exhausted. The State Police steered us to a shelter in exciting downtown Erwinville, LA. It was air-conditioned -- almost too much so, when you're trying to sleep on the floor -- and they offered coffee. But they wouldn't let us bring the cats inside, even in their carriers. Fortunately it was cool and rainy outside, so they wouldn't suffocate in the car, and Linda gave them a quick litterbox break. Miraculously, the roads were clear at 6:00 a.m. We hustled out from under the rain clouds and into Texas sunshine, and got to our hotel in College Station in less than 8 hours. I don't know what heaven will be like, but I suspect it'll be a pale imitation after the sheer luxury of a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and a hot dinner. I highly recommend Homewood Suites, by the way; they not only accepted the cats, but they served a full hot breakfast (not just rolls and coffee) 7 days a week and dinner 5 nights a week. It would have been like a vacation, if we hadn't been worrying about our neighborhood back home. After the hotel, we wound up staying in a two-bedroom house owned by a local church member and businessman near the university. When internet and media sources suggested it was OK to come back and look, we did, and found our places were untouched. Suffused with garbage smells, and the refrigerators needed to be cleaned out, but everything was fine. So we returned, packed, and came back to the swamp. Will this place ever be the same?


Paul W.
Staff
January 10, 2006


 

 

 

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