Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: A Teacher Fears For Her Students

A New Orleans elementary school teacher managed to escape the city before Katrina slammed into the Louisiana Coast, but fears that many of her young students remain trapped in the city:
The tears welling up in Kelly Post's eyes are not because of the personal belongings she lost to Hurricane Katrina.

It's for the students she left behind.

"I'm sure not all of them made it," said Post, who has been an elementary teacher at Lake Forest Montessori Magnet School in New Orleans for two years.

"Most of those kids don't have the money to get out."

Post, a 1996 Coopersville High School graduate, is certain the new furnishings she bought for her apartment in Kenner, a New Orleans suburb are submerged by the hurricane's floodwaters.

But she would trade it all just to know that her 25 students are alive and well.

So far, there has been no news of them. Phone lines and cell phones remain inoperative in New Orleans and e-mail messages sent to friends have gone unanswered.

So she watches the news on TV, hoping to recognize a face, to hear something that tells her they made it.

"I wish I could see my kids right now, or see them on TV or on a Web site," said Post, 27.

"I don't think we'll be back in school this year. Living below sea level doesn't help. (New Orleans) loses a football field a day to coastal erosion. The city sinks an inch a year."

Post left New Orleans Sunday, ahead of Katrina's arrival, to make the 1,000-plus mile trek to her parents' home in Coopersville. She arrived Monday night, her Dodge Stratus packed with clothes, pictures and students' homework that likely no longer needs to be corrected.

She believes most of her students' parents could not afford to gas up their cars and find shelter from the hurricane.

"It's not uncommon for me to call their homes and find out their phone service has been shut off," Post said. "So for them to get a tank of gas to get out of town, $40, and stay at a hotel room ... they're living day-to-day."
Post is staying with her parents in Michigan.

As can be seen from the news reports, many of the victims who remain in the city are children. Even a casual observer can see that there doesn't seem to be any priority being given to the evacuation of women and children...

I strongly believe that kids are dying in the stricken city.

Why on earth our active-duty armed forces weren't sent into the city immediately after the hurricane continues to be a mystery to me...

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