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Coming to grips with the catastrophe

By August 31, 2005August 5th, 2015Uncategorized

So I stopped off in Grand Couteau (near Lafayette) last night to visit my kids who were with their mom.  My ex-wife took them to a friend’s house, and she is planning on temporarily relocating to Lafayette.

My girls have already started school at the local Sacred Heart school (they were in the New Orleans Sacred Heart school in New Orleans), and my son is going to start school soon too.

Obviously, we are fortunate and the change in our lives is not anything like the horrible change that others will face.  Still, from my limited perspective it is quite interesting to consider how this change affects kids.

My kids are used to being around a highly connected world where they can IM their friends and use computers.  Now they are in a rural setting, and their cellphones don’t work very well.

They can text message me, and some of their friends, but that’s about it.

Last Saturday, my older daughter Bridget celebrated her 16th birthday party at my house, with about 15 of her close friends.

Yesterday she started school in a completely different city. And she has no idea where the friends that were at her birthday party are today.

My kids are all trying to grapple with the sudden change that they’re facing.  They are old enough to have intricate expectations of how their life is supposed to be.

But this tragedy has completely exploded those expectations.

They ask the obvious questions: when will be able to go home?  Why can’t we go home in a few weeks and just go back to our school if they school is not too damaged?

They don’t fully grasp the enormity of this catastrophe.  Probably they don’t want to.  This is not the sort of thing that the human mind can assimilate in just a few hours, or even a few days.

The economy of New Orleans is non-existent and will be that way for months.

The first order of business is rescuing, followed by clean up and restoration of basic core infrastructure.  I bet it will be months before the city gets to a minimal level of functioning.

The flooding and water damage to the city is not something that can be comprehended.

I suggest you read Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America.  This catastrophe will change America and we don’t yet grasp how that will happen.  We’re still in ‘rescue mode’ and ‘shock mode.’

It will take us all a long time to process how life-altering this hurricane was.

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  • Debbie says:

    I meant to a safe place (not home).My laptop is acting crazy.Again, let me know if there is anythingthat i can do.

  • Debbie says:

    Ernie -I am glad that you and your family made it home. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do.Deb

  • Ernie,

    I’m so glad to hear you made it out. If you are still having a hard time comprehending the situation, believe me I am too. I rank it about the same as 9/11 with being removed from the situation = non-comprehension. As Robert said, NO and all the other cities devestated by this will make it back one inch at a time. If you need a place to crash in Chicago, you can look me up. I have broadband and a home office.

    Keep the updates coming.


  • Ken Goodall says:

    Ernie (I knew you as “Professor Svenson” back in 1991),

    Glad to hear you and your family are OK. I hope that all of my friends and former classmates and colleagues from Loyola University are safe as well.

    Please take care of yourself.


  • My thoughts are with you and your family.

    I’ve been through wrenching change too (albeit not anything like this). All I could do when going through it was to try to make each day a little bit better than the last. You know what? That worked.

    Inch-by-inch. That’s how your city will rebuild. We’re rooting you on!

    The times we spent together in New Orleans were among my favorite and helped me a lot during my tough times.

    You’re welcome to come to Seattle so I can return the favor!

  • Yeoman says:

    Best of luck to you.

  • Melanie says:


    Glad you and the kids are safe. I haven’t succeeded in wrapping my brain around this, so I can’t imagine how it is for you.

  • Jenny Brown says:

    Ernie — We’re all glad you made it out. Your friends at Shook are thinking about you and want to help in anyway we can. Please let us know what we can do. Thanks for keeping us updated. And if any of our other friends in NO can let us know that their safe, we would love to hear from you too. Again, tell us how to help. Jenny

  • Jim McGee says:


    So glad to hear that you and yours, at least, are all right. Hang in there.

  • Glad to hear you made it out ok. My internet was down 2 days due to Bellsouth equipment in new orleans. This may cause people in positions to make decision regarding infrastructure to move the equipment to an area not prone to distruction. New Orleans can return to being an intellectual and cultural center, and also shipping, and oil, but not so much a location for vital telecom equipment, or other equipmemt, and maybe not so much a center for statewide offices. My title underwriter is not going to be back in business for months I would expect.

  • Mad Kane says:

    So glad you made it out. Good luck with everything!

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