Monday, September 12, 2005

Getting More Normal

Things are getting much more normal for us since I last wrote. As I mentioned last time, we've had to cut back our volunteer time in order to keep up with our regular responsibilities. That seems to be true for many here in Baton Rouge. Of course, this mainly applies to those of us with solid job situations and no friends or family staying with us.

The city is mostly back up with power, and most trafic signals are functioning. Still lots of debris everywhere you go, but for the most part it's been piled up and is waiting for the extra trash trucks to pick it up.

We've been back to the River Center twice since I last wrote, and it's a very different place. The numbers have dramatically decreased from a high of around 7,000 to somewhere between 2 and 3,000. All of the people who had been on the second level have moved out or down to the first level. The immediate needs for food, clothing, blankets, etc. have been met. Now, the more difficult task of helping families reconnect and evacuees figure out what to do next is taking the fore. Saturday we were assigned to the communication center where Janet worked on data entry into the red cross database (entering names and the shelter they are located). I ended up doing something with a more administrative flavor, but way to complicated yet boring to bother to explain. Suffice it to say, I was probably the right person for the job. For a time, Janet was also physically assembling and testing computers for what will be a computer lab for the evacuees. I expect that when we go back tomorrow, they will have at least 20, though probably more, computers connected to the web that they can use to reconnect, and gather information to make plans.

Things are still safe and calm downtown and throughout the city. Traffic is noticeably worse than usual, but noone's complaining, just noticing. You can feel the extra students on Southern's campus (and I have heard LSU's as well). The community college is adding a whole 8 week session worth of intense courses to help displaced college students stay on track with their degree programs.

Last Tuesday, I received an email from our neighborhood association, letting us know that a young evacuated couple had just found temporary refuge in our neighborhood, staying in a house that is in limbo between sale/closing/and moving in. They lived near the New Orleans airport, in an area that was hit hard. They had just moved from Pennsylvania and were living there because one of them was teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans, and the other at LSU. Both, recent PhDs in psychology. After weathering the storm, but being without power etc. through Thursday, they walked to the airport because they could hear so much hellicopter traffic they figured they might be able to get out. They ended up spitting a cab with some other people and making it to Baton Rouge. They didn't carry much from their home to the airport. We walked over to where they are staying Tuesday night asked what they needed and invited them to dinner on Friday. Janet prepared a multi-course Mexican feast to make it a relaxing evening. They are holding up amazingly well, considering they didn't bring anything, they don't know what the Tulane situation will be, and the one who's teaching at LSU is teaching for the first time. Oh, and they're flying back to Pennsylvania next week to get married.

I think I'll return to the original Experiment 33 tomorrow, and post more of the amusing and unimportant net flotsam and jetsam some of you have come to expect.

No comments: