Gustav Update from New Orleans

The following is an email sent on 4 Sep 2008 by UNC Press author Lance Hill to his mailing list of friends. Lance, as some of you may remember from my entry on the anniversary of Katrina, is not only an acclaimed author, but also a professor at Tulane University and a long-time New Orleans resident.

We present this message with Dr. Hill’s permission as an insight into what conditions in New Orleans are really like for the people there.

Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts.

Yes, I stayed for Gustav as I did for Katrina (on high ground at Brad Ott’s place). My son Joel evacuated my wife Eileen to Baton Rouge though, but they ended up getting the brunt of the storm up there and he lost power and the roof blew off his apartment building, so I had to retrieve her Tuesday (we lost power here for only a few hours). Rest of the staff and student workers are also fine. The office had no damage—no flooding this time—and we now have power.

My great concern is for all the people in the River Parishes and Baton Rouge: it’s not hard to evacuate people from New Orleans where the vast majority of the poor without transportation remain displaced, but re-populating an area with over a million people, largely without electricity, is another matter.

For all our friends outside New Orleans, please keep the pressure on for a safe and equitable recovery: we need the federal government to implement “500 year event” flood controls and coastal restoration, which will make this a safe region to live in for generations. We also need to bring home all those who want to return but are locked out by a lack of the lack of affordable housing, shortfalls in home flood remediation programs, and the lack of healthcare and mental health services for the uninsured, all of which have had racially discriminatory outcomes.

The people of Louisiana have endured, but the salvation of New Orleans and the region depends on creating a national movement that can bring to bear the resources of the nation.


Lance Hill, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Southern Institute for Education and Research
Tulane University

— Tom