September 23, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 2

Seniors: New Orleans will rise again

Two Boston College seniors from the New Orleans area share an optimistic view that their damaged native city will eventually rise from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

"There are a lot of passionate people in New Orleans," says Michael "Mickey" Kinkade, a political science major whose family lives in the city's Garden District, an area that was badly flooded during the storm and its aftermath. "In the end, I think they will rebuild a stronger city."

"They have a very hopeful spirit in New Orleans," echoes CSOM senior Raymond Jeandron, whose family resides in Kenner, La., just west of New Orleans. "After a week of reading news or looking at television and seeing things get worse and worse there, we are now seeing things getting better and better. People are going to be getting back into the city even sooner that they originally thought."

Both the Kinkade and Jeandron families had to evacuate their homes during the massive storm and flooding.

"Right after the hurricane we were doing pretty well," says Kincade, whose parents live in a 110-year-old house in the eastern half of the Crescent City. "It was when the 17th Street Canal broke and all of the flooding came into the city that we were really affected."

Kincade had already returned to Boston College when the powerful hurricane hit the Gulf Coast region. "My parents were originally going to evacuate, but by the time they took care of everything that needed to be done, Interstate-10 was so backed up that it looked like a parking lot. They rode it out at the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans, a building that has been there since the 1800s."

Kincade said he was able to contact his parents sporadically throughout the ordeal. "Everyone was having trouble with their cell phones. We spoke long enough so that I was just able to learn that they were OK.

"My dad managed to canoe over to our house at one point after the storm," Kincade said. "There was a lot of water underneath the house, which damaged the foundation. My dad said the house is 'significantly tilted' to the left," he said.

His parents have since relocated to Baton Rouge where they are staying with other family members and Kincaid was able to visit his parents over the weekend of Sept. 10-11 for a first-hand report. "They will have to wait to get back into the city and see if they will rebuild or fix what they can with the house," he said. "It frustrating, because they really don't know what is going to happen." Jeandron was able to fly out of New Orleans on one of the last flights before the storm hit on August 29, leaving at 12:15 a.m. and flying to Atlanta. "I grabbed it because I didn't know when I would be able to get out of there again," he said. The next morning Jeandron was able to catch a flight to Boston where he returned to campus in time to help out with the CSOM Honors Program "First Serve" community service program. "My family got out of there later on Sunday morning when it became clear that the hurricane was going to hit the city," Jeandron said. The family is temporarily living in Baton Rouge.

"I was able to fly down to Baton Rouge over Labor Day weekend," Jeandron said, "and help my dad. We drove to Kenner and they were letting people in to visit their homes. We were very fortunate," he said. "While there was some water and wind damage, there wasn't anything catastrophic. There are some holes and water damage to carpets and things, but there wasn't any standing water in our area when we got there like there was in the eastern parts of the city."

Jeandron says that his family plans to return to New Orleans "when it is safe to be there, when the schools are reopened and when it's practical for my father to get back into his [downtown] office."

Both Kincade and Jeandron said the Boston College community has offered great support to students whose families were affected by the storm. Kincade praised the efforts of University President William P. Leahy, SJ, Campus Minister Jack Butler, SJ, and a visiting Jesuit, Daniel Sweeney, SJ.

"BC has been just phenomenal," said. " I have gotten so much support from friends and teachers. I have been very fortunate."

"Everyone I have talked to," added Jeandron, "whether it be students, faculty, whatever, has expressed a genuine concern, not just a curiosity, about how things are going.

"I have great roommates who have been very understanding, very helpful very encouraging through all of this. I have gotten numerous e-mails from professors I have had, wondering how things are going, expressing their concern and letting me know that I have been in their thoughts and prayers," Jeandron said. "Their help has been indispensable." - Reid Oslin

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