Categorically Speaking

We began watching this storm as it was sputtering to existence off the coast of Africa. The university subscribes to this sophisticated weather alert system geared towards tropical developments called “Impact Weather.” It is the same weather alert system deployed by the oil companies for monitoring conditions on the rigs; Tulane also uses this advance tracking system.

There was a palatable sigh of relief when it appeared on Thursday, August 23 that the storm would likely impact either Miami or Tampa Bay; not that we wished ill to our sister cities. As the storm shifted slightly on Friday, August 24 it began to look as if the northeast coast of Florida would be Isaac’s target. Since we were at the end of “Welcome Week” and the start of classes, we were grateful that New Orleans was not in the “cone of uncertainty.” Well, as storms go Isaac shifted again and by Saturday, August, 25 Mobile was beginning to be part of the “spaghetti” map the weather folks are fond of putting up on the TV screen.

The entire time that Isaac was moving from Africa to the gulf area our Emergency Management Team, headed by Stephen Murphy was acutely aware of Isaac’s patterns. By Sunday, August, 26 and early Monday, August, 27 Isaac took a tack similar to the old saying, “go West, young man.” The president along with the Emergency Management Team decided that the category 1 storm did not deem an evacuation necessary, the university suspended operations, and we “sheltered 600 students in place.”

Eventually on Tuesday, August 28 we lost electricity; powered by diesel fuel, the generated safety lighting came on, but no AC, and no true ability to cook. While it was hot, we were prepared. Under the leadership of Craig Beebe, the residential life team, along with our partner, Sodexo fed residents seamlessly the entire week. During the storm, several staff members from Athletics & Wellness arrived to open the gym for students so they could exercise by day light. During the evening hours, co-curricular and residential life staff provided activities for residents, including an outstanding impromptu talent show in Carrolton Hall.

I spent from Tuesday to Friday morning at Loyola, sleeping in my office. The President stayed on campus as well, and it was good to be a part of normalizing operations as much as possible. Although there are some things we can and should improve upon, I was pleased with how the student affairs team worked well with LUPD and the physical plant staff. We realize that you can never communicate enough and promise to improve on that with all of our constituents.

Hurricane Isaac was a category 1 storm with near Katrina like flooding in places like Plaquemines Parish. These folks suffered losing homes, belongings, in some cases everything but memories. While Isaac hovered over Loyola dumping 24” of rain, and many were without electricity for almost a week; we did not suffer nearly like our neighbors. We lost our comfort zone. We were safe. We had food and shelter. We were hot but make no mistake we were fortunate.

To mark the storm we tried to get t-shirts made; “I survived Hurricane Isaac” seemed too dramatic. One colleague suggested we use the like-ness of Isaac Hayes; instead I decided to cull his song lyrics. So here is our nod to Hurricane Isaac, categorically speaking, of course.

“Stormy Monday Blues” lyrics

They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad

They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad

Wednesday’s worse, and Thursday’s also sad

Yes, the eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to

play; Sunday I go to church, then I kneel down and pray

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me

Lord have mercy, my heart’s in misery

Crazy about my AC, yes, send it back to me.

- Isaac Hayes, with a slight variation