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318 869-5120

318 841-7266


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 Strange.

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 damage.

"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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