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by Brittany Yap

What made him unique is that only a few days earlier, Scott, a New Orleans native, rode out Hurricane Katrina at his father’s house on the outskirts of the city, while his mother and three older sisters evacuated. He and his father were confident about staying behind because it was made of brick and they had a generator, food, and access to the news.

“ I think a lot of people didn’t think it would be that bad,” said Scott.

Although there was flooding, none of it got into his father’s house. However, Scott worried about his mother’s house which was several blocks closer to the heart of the city. Scott’s suitcases, with the rest of his school stuff, packed and ready to go to Hawai‘i, were strategically placed in the attic of his mother’s house. It might just as well have been on the moon.

“ My mom was finally able to go back to her house and she called to tell me that the water went right up to the doorstep,” said Scott. “But not in the house.”

Scott is unsure when he will get all his belongings here in Hawai‘i, so he said he has been “sporting HPU clothing.”

“ When I landed, my resident advisor took me to Wal-Mart to go shopping,” said Scott.

He praises the school for being so considerate. The bookstore gave Scott free books for this semester and some free clothing to help hold him over until his suitcases arrive. Scott mentions in particular that Assistant Director Scott Liedtke, Bookstore Manager Shellee Heen, and his resident advisors have been very helpful in his time of trouble.

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through the city, people started looting, and that’s when Scott began to worry for his safety.

“ We saw some guys throw a mailbox at a store window and break into the store to take stuff,” said Scott. “After I saw the looting, I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.”

He recalls the National Guardsmen coming in on the third day to bring water, ice, and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). According to Scott, there were not enough guardsmen to keep the city under control and to help rescue those trapped by the flood and hurricane.

In the days that followed Hurricane Katrina, no one was allowed into New Orleans, and Scott’s father’s truck was not working, so he had to be creative about evacuating the city. Scott found a bicycle and rode it about 20 miles out of New Orleans until a man with a truck picked him up and brought him to Baton Rouge where he was reunited with his mom and one of his sisters. According to Scott, the man driving the truck had been stopping along the way to pick up anyone he could help get out of the city.

“ When I got to Baton Rouge I was so happy to turn on the light switch and have it work,” said Scott.

The temperature in New Orleans was in the 90s and very humid. “It was uncomfortable because when you sleep, you are sweating,” said Scott.

After making sure his mom and sister were fine, he flew out of Shreveport, on the northeast tip of Louisiana, heading for O‘ahu.

“ I kind of didn’t want to leave,” said Scott. “I felt bad for leaving and I didn’t know how my mom’s house was when I left.”

Scott knows of people who have relocated and are starting their lives somewhere new. His mother was talking about moving as well, because she does not want to deal with the hurricanes in the Gulf region.

As for the political repercussions, he said, “I think this whole Democratic/Republican blame game is ridiculous.”

He thought Mayor Ray Nagin did a good job. However, Scott feels there were too many people trying to organize the efforts, and not enough people to carry them out. There was a sense of chaos not only amongthe citizens, but also among the police. The news reports say about a third of the force is still unaccounted for.

“ I think it’s honorable for those police that stayed,” said Scott. “But you can’t blame people for wanting to save their families.”

Scott is majoring in oceanography, and his home away from home is Melia dorm. Scott said he misses the southern food and will not be returning to New Orleans until Christmas break.

Despite all his troubles, there is some good news. “Well, my dad will have a lot of work after this,” said Scott. “He’s in construction.”

 
 

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