Katrina and the University of New Orleans chemistry department

Like the entire city of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans chemistry department -- of which I am a member -- was blown away by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the faculty and students evacuated the city ahead of the storm. This is a routine for most New Orleans residents during hurricane season. Some of the faculty, particularly the more senior ones, became complacent over the years and decided to ride out the storm. The local media has a lot to do with this irrational decision.

By | September 8, 2005

Like the entire city of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans chemistry department -- of which I am a member -- was blown away by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the faculty and students evacuated the city ahead of the storm. This is a routine for most New Orleans residents during hurricane season. Some of the faculty, particularly the more senior ones, became complacent over the years and decided to ride out the storm. The local media has a lot to do with this irrational decision. I never saw an interview with a resident who left the city in an ordinary fashion 50-60 hours ahead of a storm. You could only hear heroic stories from the few who "rode out a storm" with a 6-pack, "hunkered down," experienced the power of Nature, etc. Anyway, several of our faculty members have been through a terrible ordeal until they were finally airlifted to safety. All our faculty members are now accounted for, scattered all around the country. We heard from about 75% of our students, and hopefully all will turn up in the next few days. The complete collapse of the communication system, including cell phones and e-mail, made it extremely difficult to communicate. I still don?t understand why it took so long for the cell phone industry to fix their systems. Rumors are that the UNO e-mail system will come back in a very short time. This will be the first step in the very long road to recovery. I am confident, however, that the UNO chemistry department and the entire university will recover. Many of you are asking yourselves, how can I help? The UNO faculty members are looking for a place to locate their groups until it is possible to return home. If your research interest matches the research activities of a member of the UNO faculty and you wish to help, please contact me at zrosenzw@yahoo.com. I will pass the information on immediately.

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