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.