Denny Taylor, Part Two on Katrina and Schools
I am writing to update you on Katrina and bring news of Rita. I spent
some time in Baton Rouge and stayed with Cindy Elliott and her husband
and two of her friends from New Orleans. We visited a shelter where
there were 2,500 people. The Red Cross first responders said the shelter
will be open for at least three months. I also visited schools and spoke
with teachers and counselors, many of whom have also lost their homes.
Julia Eksner sent me some really useful materials that I adapted and
used. I am going to rework them again based on the experiences of the
children and teachers in Louisiana. I'll send the docs to you.
Taro Yamaski is also coming to Baton Rouge. We are going to try to get
out into some of the rural parishes that received no help from FEMA.
Baton Rouge has a population of 250,000 people and there are 250,000
evacuees. In Louisiana alone there are 55,000 people still living in
shelters. The paper I have attached will give you some idea what is
happening in schools. One of the biggest issues is that evacuees are
already dispersed and it is not clear that there is any way of keeping
in touch with them. I have been told that there are more than 1000
evacuee in New York City but one of my doctoral students has been trying
to locate them and none of the official agencies seems to know where
Now there is Rita. Cindy says that everyone in Baton Rouge is "in
shock." They are on the eastern side of the storm which she says is the
worst place to be. There are always tornadoes associated with these
storms -- there were many with Katrina and they are expecting the same
with Rita. The biggest threat is the rain and the problem of the
weakened levees in New Orleans. Cindy says the psychological impact of
this second storm is overwhelming.
The news from Texas is equally grim. There was a report on NPR from Port
Arthur which is expected to take the brunt of the storm. Apparently they
had two buses to evacuate some of the elderly and more frail but the
buses were taken for use in Houston. Many residents are still in Port
Arthur even though there is a real danger that the town will not survive
I'll send another e-mail when I return from Baton Rouge. If you would
like to help there are many schools that need support. There are two
schools in Baton Rouge that were going to be demolished that survived
the storm They are now open even though they have no tables or chairs or
supplies. If you are in the US and can send books etc. Let me know and
I will connect you with a school. If you have materials that will help
me as I talk with teachers and counselors I would be grateful. I am
focuses on a social response to mass trauma. Maybe I should send you the
docs so you can give me advice on adapting and extending them. I'm
thinking how to proceed as I write! Okay. I'll attach the two page
doc. Please make suggestions and send other docs that might be useful.
Take care everyone.