FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (3/6/06)
Contact: David Henington, Director of Alumni Relations, 318-869-5151,
or Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120
Centenary Students, Staff
Give Up Mardi Gras Break to Help with Hurricane Relief
The following information and pictures were provided to the
Centenary News Service by David Henington, Centenary's director of alumni
relations. He accompanied a group of Centenary students and staff who
gave up their break to help with the hurricane relief effort in the New
Orleans area. The trip was organized by the students themselves, with
a bit of advice from the Chaplain's Office, which organized a similar
trip during Fall Break.
Funding was provided by grants from the Student Government
Association and the Chaplain's Office. Students Ashlie Junot and Jennifer
Bouso organized the trip with guidance from the Rev. Betsy Eaves and Jennifer
By David Henington
Director of Alumni Relations
"I just spent three days with Centenary students working on a house
in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. It was a fantastic and rewarding
experience being with enthusiastic and dedicated young adults.....and
their enormous energy.
"We worked on the home of a former Centenary professor. Her home
did not 'flood' from rising water. The roof of her second story came off
and the rains destroyed the contents of her home and caused mold to grow
inside the walls. She did have water rise up to her home so the entire
underbelly will have to be replaced. New vents, a/c, electrical etc...
So all interior walls and ceilings on both floors were removed. Crowbars,
hammers, shovels, wheelbarrows and trash cans were our tools. It was dusty.
"We hauled the debris to the street. There was no bagging it. It
should be picked up within the coming 30 days. On Wednesday, the day before
we started, the debris removal truck had been on the street and will not
come back for another month. There is a front-end loader that scoops it
up and puts it in the trash truck.
"The surrounding homes are being lived in and did not have damage.
Most of the residents stayed during the storm. I talked with the man next
door and he stayed for the storm. He said most of the neighbors did as
well. Many helped with boat rescue operations after the storm. This neighborhood
is located on a ridge.
"I was familiar with this because the homeowner had evacuated to
Shreveport and along with several other evacuees at our home one night
were discussing how glad they were to own property in higher areas of
the city. This was the night before the waters rose, but the evening after
Katrina hit that morning. The discussion became more serious later in
the week when satellite images were available and people could not only
see water on the surrounding streets, but this homeowner saw her roof
in her yard and knew that her home, 'stuff,' books, papers were all destroyed.
"The home next door was featured in the movie Ray.
"Dillard University is very near this home. It sustained considerable
"I will send a few emails with pics. Some are of us working. Others
are of the destruction in the 9th Ward and Chalmette (St. Bernard parish).
Words and TV images are not the same as being there. It is quiet and totally
dark at night, still. The smell is bad. We saw markings for dead animals
(pets) found in homes. The 9th Ward is only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There are no services in this area. In fact, in New Orleans, many gas
stations are closed, and ones that are open have lines, groceries stores,
drug stores etc... However we did see many holes in roofs where people
hacked out of their attics following the storms. Can you imagine how hot
those roofs were? An attic is usually 140 degrees is the summer. This
is the area hardest hit by winds and flood waters from the Industrial
Canal. St. Bernard had the additional problem of the refineries that leaked.
"Driving in New Orleans on 610 you pass the Lakeview area. It is
mostly upper middle class families. This area flooded extensively above
the rooflines. Axed out roofs are very common here.
"While seeing New Orleans east it is hard to imagine that tens of
thousands of trailers sit scattered throughout the South waiting to be
moved to this area. FEMA claims red tape, the parish government says that
is not true.
"This is home to many people and they want to go back. I did not
take pictures of a few tent cities that we passed. And FEMA trailer parks.
A common trait is the mud that surrounds these set ups. Messy. City Park
has a tent city. Workers coming in from Texas and Mexico have set up camp
and pay a daily rental to the city to 'camp' here. Traffic lights do not
work in some areas, no street lights, schools are vacant.
"In one picture you will see the sign at Gentilly Terrace School:
"attendance is important." There is a sink hole that I did not
see the bottom of in the middle of the street in front of the entrance
to the school. There is an abandoned front-end loader on the sidewalk
and dozens of cars that were flooded and abandoned. There is a boat that
is an abandoned rescue boat against the back fence. In the middle of the
neighborhood in which we worked....one and a half blocks from the house.
"We drove on 610 and remembered that thousands of people were stranded
there for days with no water or food. Underneath the elevated highways
through the city are abandoned cars. Thousands of them. Projects are empty,
and entire neighborhoods are empty.
"While driving through the 9th Ward we passed a Gray Line city tour
bus that was full. It is good for people to see the damage.
"A bright spot was on Thursday afternoon hearing a siren at 2 p.m.
and then a loud speaker...think Ice Cream truck....only it was the American
Red Cross handing out spaghetti lunches and water to workers. We had packed
our lunches and eaten an hour earlier...but a few of the guys could not
pass this up.
"The other positive is the appreciation the neighbors gave the students
for giving up their break and spending a few days helping a stranger."
See photos of the Hurricane Relief trip at Mardi
Gras Hurricane Relief Pics.
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