Friday, September 09, 2005


When I left school on Friday, August 26, I never dreamed it would be two weeks before I returned. I didn't even hear that the hurricane was headed toward us until Saturday, and even then I had no idea how big or bad it was. We've had so many near misses with hurricanes in the past year, that I really just thought of it as an irritation. Here we go again...missing another day or two of school to evacuate for nothing. I never once considered that this was "the one." Even if I had, I could not have conceived of what would happen. As our governor put it, we knew what "as bad as Camille" meant, and we knew how to prepare for that. We did not know what "worse than Camille" meant. I'm afraid many people died because of these two things: sheer burn out on preparing for hurricanes and using Camille as a measuring stick for the worst of the worst.

Now here we are in the middle of "worse than Camille," the nightmare we never even knew to fear. But things are getting better. Some people have power now. I don't, but I did see guys with chainsaws on my street yesterday, so I'm hopeful the way will be cleared to get the trucks in there soon. Disaster relief seems to be pouring in. Red Cross trucks are all over town. The National Guard is passing out supplies (and arresting looters and curfew breakers). The churches are packed with donations (and evacuees). A few more businesses open up every day, and all in all people are starting to look a little cleaner and a little less shell shocked.

We go back to school on Monday. I have heard that Pearl River Community College is going back on the 19th. I have also heard that Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is going back to school soon. I don't honestly know how they will manage, but I think the thinking is that the best thing is a return to as much normalcy as possible for as many people as we have left to make that possible for.

We don't know what we are facing. We don't know how many of our students will be able to even get to school now. We don't know how many new students we might have who cannot go back to their homes farther south. The campus, however, looks great...considering. There has been damage to some of the buildings, mostly in the form of roof damage. I know that some of the library collections have been lost, but we don't have a full assessment of that yet. The glass and ceiling tiles have been picked up, and the trees have been cleared, and we're as ready as we can be to get back to business, though.

We had one full week of classes before the storm. I'm not even sure where to start in the starting over, but we should not be at a loss for things to write about.

Thanks for all of the support and concern during this time. I'll keep you posted on my campus and how we deal with Katrina's aftermath.


Rosa G. said...

Sharon, I'll post a link to this at CCE. In the meantime, if you can see anything that you or your colleagues (and students)need, make a list and we'll post it. take care.

BTW--our proposal was accepted at the 4C's!

sharon said...


It is good to hear from you. I'll pass along your news to others, so they they can check in on this blog, too.

You're in my thoughts as you get back onto your campus. Having been though a similar disruption a long time ago, I know that it will be tough as people start sharinging their stories, but know that we are all ready to help. Just let us know how you are doing as the next couple of weeks reveal what you need.

sharon mitchler

Jane said...

Sharon, this is just to say that, even in Australia, the devastation in SE USA has struck home. There is a lot of media coverage - unfortunately mainly on 'Who is to blame?' rather than on 'What could we do to help?'

I think the sheer scale of what has happened is difficult for people to comprehend. But - I'll echo what Joanna has said - if there's anything we can do, please say.

Sharon Gerald said...

Thanks. I still don't have Internet access at home, and things have been hectic at work, but I will think about that list. I'm not sure what people can do to help. I know that some of my students lost their textbooks in the storm, and I'm trying to find a way to help them. I think the public school kids might be in greater need for things like school supplies than we are. I have a sister who teaches middle school. They haven't started back to school yet, but I will ask her to let me know how many kids are without basic supplies when they do return.

Rosa G. said...


I'm cutting and pasting this info about a getting financial aid to come to Chicago for the 4C's. If you teach Basic Writing, then contact Susan Bernstein:

2006 CBW Fellowship Dedicated to Basic Writing Educators
and Students Impacted by Hurricane Katrina

Because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Hurricane Katrina, the Conference on Basic Writing will dedicate the 2006 CBW Fellowship to a Basic Writing educator who has been displaced by Hurricane Katrina and/or who teaches Basic Writing to displaced students. The CBW Fellowship provides $500 to subsidize travel to CCCC in Chicago in March and to participate in the Conference on Basic Writing Pre-Conference Wednesday Workshop.

For more information, please see

or e-mail me at


Sharon Gerald said...

Thanks for the information. I'm not currently teaching Basic, but I will pass this on to people who are.

TheDevilIsInTheDetails said...

Be prepared for the next hurricane katrina site or find another one that's similar. As the Boy Scouts say: "Be Prepared"!