Friday, September 23, 2005

WHY THE PEOPLE DIDN'T LEAVE: from Lindsay Young, a Loyola Law Student and Spelman Alumna

Everyday since the SIS Blog was launched, I have read each comment posted with a desire to write something myself, but never knowing what I should say. But today with hurricane Rita approaching my hometown, I feel compelled to say something.

I woke up Saturday, August 27th, around 7:15 a.m. in an apartment I’d just moved into earlier in the week located on the first floor of my complex. I turned on the television and was surprised to see the new developments hurricane Katrina made overnight. Seeing the path the storm was taking, I decided to beat the traffic and go home to Lafayette. Last year when Ivan threatened to hit New Orleans, I waited until the city initiated an evacuation order and spent 10 hours driving (on a trip that ordinarily only takes two hours) and vowed then never to wait on the city to issue an evacuation before leaving. I called my parents to let them know I was coming home and then made a few calls to those that I knew were new to the area and encouraged them to leave the city. Thinking that I would only be gone three or four days at the maximum, I gathered all my dirty laundry and my law books together, leaving the rest of my belongings. I had only one goal in mind - beat the traffic. I left my apartment, hurriedly jumped into my car that seats 5 people and began my solo trip home. I met my goal. I was home in two hours and encountered no traffic. I had no idea.

Call after call, although different people, same message … I can’t find my parents … my cousin is missing … my sister didn’t leave … my grandmother is in a nursing home. CNN reporters continue to ask why so many people were left or why no buses came to transport people out of the city or why no water or food was dropped or why the levy broke. It was the same reason why the public school system was failing, why crime was rising and why housing projects were falling down.

Days after the hurricane, I heard anger in the voices of my peers for the inefficiency of local, state and federal government and now I hear statements such as “At least all the hoodlums are gone,” “ I feel sorry for Houston because they got the poorest of New Orleans” and, after federal aid was given, “Well, everything turned out well”. People who are not from New Orleans really have no idea what this city means to the locals. It’s not just the city of Mardi Gras, Essence Festival and Bayou Classic. Rather it is the city where your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends live within 5 minutes of each other. Now, many of them are states away from each other and the meaning of home will never be the same. Everyday I think about the people that I saw in the grocery store, in the park or at church and wonder what’s become of them and pray that they are safe. I pray that all those in the path of Rita will be safe.

Lindsay Young was among the first Young Scholars in SIS. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Spelman, she is currently in her second year of law school at Loyola University.


Blogger jb said...


Thank you for sharing. Praying for the safety for your family and all those in the path of Rita.


Friday, September 23, 2005 10:45:00 AM  

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