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After 1.5 weeks, it looks like my evacuation to the greater Houston area is about to come to an end.
I’ve enjoyed very comfortable accommodations with my TGNO friends Nihar and Michelle, here at the home of Michelle’s parents. Last week I briefly returned to Kenner, LA to survey damage and retrieve belongings before they closed the city back up. It took almost 12 hours to get in, but I was fortunate to find that my apartment had not been flooded at all. However, damage around the apartment complex and throughout the entire region was extensive, and it was an erie sight to find National Guardsmen at all the major intersections. Electricity was out in most parts, and I had to stay the night due to a 6pm curfew. Lack of a/c made for an uncomfortable sleep, but I can’t complain, considering the miserable experiences of those who didn’t evacuate.
Windsong Apartments suffered fallen trees, roof damage, and broken windows, but dodged major flooding.
The entire complex was littered with debris, but my apartment escaped any damage.
My main anxiety has resulted from not knowing how long it will be before I can return to work – or whether I’ll still have a job. No one knows how many students will return to those schools. If the number of returning teachers is greater than the need, I don’t expect my one week of teaching experience to provide much job security. The projected reopening fluctuated from early December… then ahead to early November… and then back to mid January. I briefly tried to follow some leads for temporary teaching or engineering jobs here in the Houston area (what an ugly city), but I recently started planning to retreat back to Lockheed Martin in CA for a few months.
Then, an unexpected update was issued on the Department of Education website: http://www.doe.state.la.us/lde/misc/jps.html. We’ve just been notified that “All [Jefferson Parish School System] employees, including teachers, will report to their worksites no later than Wednesday, September 21, 2005. Registration for new students is to begin on September 26, 2005.” On October 3, 42 of the 84 schools in the parish will reopen. Students from the heavily damaged schools will transfer to the opening schools for now. I assume there may be two school schedules – an early and late shift – to accommodate so many students (?). Bonnabel High School suffered significant flood and wind damage, so I expect to end up somewhere else. As hectic as the first week of school was under regular conditions, I’m bracing for utter chaos as we try to get back on our feet. I just hope to see some of my former students again.
I’m encouraged that the parish is trying to recover so quickly. Neighboring Orleans Parish still has a ways to go, so I sympathize with my friends who live or work there. I don’t know if electricity will be restored in my neighborhood by next week, but I plan to return to my apartment on Monday or Tuesday. Interestingly, I’ve now lived as an evacuee in Texas longer than I lived in either of my own apartments in Louisiana (New Orleans and Kenner). Now I look forward to returning to Kenner and helping things get back to normal – whatever that is!
I don’t know when I’ll next get internet access after this weekend, but I’ll keep trying to eventually return your messages.
Best wishes for other friends and family that I know some of you have in the Gulf Coast region.