The Hurricane Factor

So today marks the first day of hurricane season, and I realized that I didn’t start blogging until after it ended last year so its never really been discussed on the blog. Yesterday I was at lunch with a friend who is considering law school and she said that she wasn’t going to apply to Tulane because she was too scared of hurricane season. Katrina and hurricanes past definitely crossed my mind when I was considering my acceptance to the Freeman School. I too had seen the horrific pictures of the Superdome and the Lower Ninth Ward and wondered if I could live in a place where there is almost a guarantee of misbehaving weather? The other schools I looked at had their fair share of weather related issues, snow, ice, and general dreariness. But there is just something about hurricanes that are well…scary. Last August when we first started hearing about Hurricane Gustav you could feel the tension in school. People were talking, worried, and wondering if/when/how they would evacuate. We all knew it was serious when Tulane canceled a day of classes. We would walk into class and our professors began telling us about their experiences in Katrina, how we should evacuate whenever we are told, and which website was the best for tracking the storm. I remember feeling anxious, we were literally weeks into school and my brain could only hold so much information. Econ and hurricanes do not mix. I was lucky enough to have classmates who were native New Orleanians and had lived through Katrina. Their advice, leave, and leave early. I will say that Tulane had an amazing system of keeping its students aware of what was happening. We got constant text messages and emails that told us what the school was doing to prepare including transportation and accommodations for students who had no where to go or couldn’t afford to go back home. There was also a website that we could direct family to so that they could be updated too. At the time, I didn’t have a t.v. so I really relied on the websites and my friends to let me know what was happening. Tulane ended up canceling classes for several days and urged students to evacuate before the mandatory city evacuation. I, upon the excellent advice of my good friends Ishaneka and Kyle packed up, secured my apartment and headed for my sisters’ house in Atlanta. I think the worst feeling was leaving New Orleans at 3 am before the mandatory evacuation started. It was just the uncertainty of not knowing what you were going to come back to, and knowing that the city could not take another Katrina. I got to Atlanta and constantly checked on my classmates to make sure they were out and okay. We had professors who emailed us and asked us to let them know that we were okay and where we were. The night before Gustav was expected to make landfall I was out with my sister. I didn’t want to be in the house watching t.v., I couldn’t bear the count down of the storm coming ashore. When I got back to my sister’s house around 2 am Gustav was on its way to Nola, with talks of its category number possibly increasing. I didn’t sleep that night, and when Gustav finally made landfall I couldn’t take my eyes of the t.v. Once the storm subsided it then became a waiting game to find out when I could get back into the city. My apartment didn’t have power for about a week, but I had to head back to New Orleans because school was starting with or without me. New Orleans wasn’t spared, but it wasn’t underwater either, and all of my classmates were safe and sound. I’m not going to try and act like this experience wasn’t scary, but it definitely is not a reason not to attend Tulane. Hurricane season is a small percentage of the time that you’ll actually spend in New Orleans. Tulane is extremely well prepared and makes sure that students have the best information at all times. Part of the reason that I decided to go to Tulane was because I wanted to be in New Orleans post-Katrina. I wanted to contribute to the local economy, meet the residents, and bring my family and friends back to Nola. If I had let Katrina, or any hurricane for that matter deter me from going to the Freeman School, I can honestly say that I would have made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.