Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Last Post is a Bit Confusing

Why would they even infer, in his recent post, that school is coming back this semester? I've done a reasonable amount of research and I think it's safe to bet that New Orleans will not be a habitable city for 4-6 months. If you disagree let me know, I was arguing with my friend about this hours ago. I feel that it will be 4 weeks until the levees are fixed, then they need to get the electricity back to pump the water out. That'll be another 4 weeks. Then, they will need to clear the debris so they can fix the water mains and gas pipes (say 2-4 weeks for this). After this, the city will be somewhat habitable for workers, but all the buildings will still be damaged. Once water, electricity and gas are restored, workers can come in a fix all the windows, roofs and structural damage to the hotels and public facilities. This could take years, but hopefully some stuff can get done in a month. Then, I'd come back, stay in a hotel and evaluate the damage to my house. It would take another month (minimum) or two to fix the windows and roof that were at least mildly affected. Then we can move back in and start over.
You do the math.

ADDITION: New Orleans will not go "back online" until the whole city is habitable. The roadways will just be too clogged and infrastructure will be too strained trying to operate Tulane without having the rest of New Orleans available. How can I prove this? Tulane is the largest employer of people in New Orleans. Many of these people probably do not and will not have houses for quite some time. We've gotta have both sides of the city at least partly habitable to be back at school. Moreover, WE need places to live, and its just gonna take time to fix uptown, even if they are able to fix up the city in half the time of my predictions.


Anonymous Julie Eaton said...

Do you think there is a way that Tulane students could go down there and be part of the solution? Rather than sit at home, or at a new school or job, try and make things go faster. Like a Habitat for Humanity. I mean, I know it wouldn't be for a long time, the water and electricity need to be back, but I think that we should try to help. It's a once-in-a-lifetime sort of opportunity to really give back to the community. New Orleans really needs help, and it's going to take more than donations for it to be rebuilt. They need man power and people who can dedicate time to fixing everything. If you think we can't be back at school for awhile, let's take this opportunity to do something really great.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Tulaneparent said...

I am not sure what the dates are for the blog comments above, but as of yesterday (8/31), martial law was declared in the city and all borders in and out of Louisiana are closed. Before groups like HFH can get into the city to begin rebuilding, there are some crucial elements towards stabilizing the infrastructure of the city and assuring safety of citizens and relief workers would need to be completed.

It could easily be 6 months before enough of the city's infrastructure is rebuilt and Tulane could potentially reopen their doors at that location. That is not to say that they couldn't possibly lease space at another university temporarily in order to have classes continue in the interim. I'm not sure where they'd find enough space for an effort like that, or whether their employees could relocate their families to that location. The administration has a major challenge in front of them and I'm sure they appreciate the patience and loyalty of their students, staff and parent community.

Personally, I don't believe any reasonable estimation for that timeline for re-opening within New Orleans could be made until the levy breaches are sealed and the pumps repaired. Once that is done, it will take several weeks to pump out the water.

While those efforts are underway, there will be an effort to continue rescue and recovery operations. There has not yet been an effort to identify and collect victims of the flooding. Emergency workers have described bodies floating by, but they have not had time to begin to collect them.

Houses where bodies were found are being marked and there will eventually be an effort to collect and identify remains. City representatives have suggested that there could be many times more fatalities then there were rescues made from rooftops. That will be a significant effort.

These bodies will begin to create a critical health hazard. With the temperatures in the New Orleans hovering around 90 during the day, these bodies will begin to decompose and result in high risk for a number of very serious communicable diseases for people living and working in the area. The water lines in the city are broken and contaminated with the flood water and sewerage. There are broken gas lines, which pose a fire hazard, as well as potentially flammable chemicals in above ground storage sites which may also be leaching into the water. Together with the downed power lines, poisonous snakes which may have found shelter from the flood waters inside of people's homes, and lawlessness, there is a major risk to any rescue worker or citizen left in the area. These are some reasons for the order to evacuate the city of any remaining citizens.

Once the area is "de-watered", recovery efforts are completed, and order has been restored to the city, building engineers will need to inspect many of the buildings in the city that had been flooded and determine whether they have suffered structural damage.

While the area in uptown may have survived the storm, and perhaps also the flooding from the levee breaks, the city itself will be uninhabitable for several months at best.

The question Tulane families would seem to have now, is how to proceed in the next few months to make the most of the time students now have while awaiting futher word from Tulane administrators.

Many universities are just beginning their current semester. Transcripts, advisors the registrar etc., from Tulane may be unavailable for some time, complicating any transfer process. For junior or seniors at Tulane, transferring to a new school could result in new graduation requirements from the university and the potential that coursework at Tulane wouldn't be accepted. This may be an unnecessary setback if Tulane will be re-opening their doors in the next few months. Taking a few courses at a university, particularly courses which could potentially be applied back at Tulane towards your required coursework there, would seem to make sense. I would hope Tulane Administrators would be amenable towards accepting credits or coursework taken at other universities during this time, and applying them towards a students required coursework.

Since the admissions office has relocated to Richmond, perhaps they can post some recommendations on that to current Tulane students, as they would normally have input into whether coursework would "transfer" into Tulane.

Internships or jobs which provide work experience into your field of study would clearly be beneficial. Many internships for the Fall Semester are filled in the summer, but you may still find opportunities in your area that are meaningful. has a search engine with internship listings by city or state. Perhaps in time, the staff of Tulane's service learning office can also be relocated and available for help with this.

This blog is a great idea for sharing one another's experience in how you all are making it through this tough time, and for remaining connected to one another. It may be helpful to identify other Tulane students in your home regions in order to get together and maintain a sense of Tulane community while we await more word from the university. Maybe the admissions office, or alumni offices could help facilitate that process, since they are already organized by regions. In fact there may be a well organized city or regional alumni community in many of your states which will provide an important resource moving forward.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the residents, including professors, staff and administrators who lived in the New Orleans area and may have lost family or friends as well as their homes.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Meg said...

first of all, i want to say that i'm very happy to see this blog and to read the comments of people whose main concern is helping the new orleans community. i think it says a lot about us as a student body.
second, i think that tulaneparent is right in his/her assessment of the damage and the time it will take to fix our city.
but i will say that you should check out FEMA's website- there's something about an independent study project.
go green wave!

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Liz Horn said...

I heard that the Red Cross will be organizing and training volunteer groups as soon as the situation allows them to enter. If you're able to volunteer, I would contact them soon as the spots are sure to fill very quickly. Good luck!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Phil tulane parent said...

Tulane parent in St. Pete Fl. I agree as our daughter is in her last semester and now faces the uncertainty of what to do? she has contacted and met with Univ. of South Fl. administrators and they have been absolutely wonderful in assessing her needs and their willingness to assist. Will Tulane forgo to the usual requirement that you must finish at Tulane in order to receive the tulane degree? She loves the school and wants only to graduate from Sphi Newcomb nee Tulane! The sooner the seniors are assured they can take classes elsewhere, heck even in-coming frosh so they stay committed to Tulane, and that they will transfer to Tulane credit, the better! Please President Cowen consider assuring them of this early on in this cataclysmic event! They need stability and knowing that they can move on in their pursuit of a Tulane degree!

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first want to say this site is amazing. It appears that a Tulane student has managed to do a better job of organizationing a network of communication that far exceeds anything the federal, state, or local governments and university could create. I hope New Orleans and Tulane are back ASAP, but I'm trying to be realistic about the situation. The rebuilding effort could take years. Tulane and Uptown may have relatively little damage, but there seems to be little direction for even the evacuation efforts from any government organization. There are still tens of thousands of stranded survivors and the situation inside the city is deteriorating by the hour. Additionally, the situation through out the south is worsening (Looting in Baton Rouge, Alabama residents driving to Florida for gas). I am worried about Tulane and New Orleans, but I am AFRAID for our nation.

9:01 PM  
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12:07 PM  

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