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Looking back on Katrina anniversary

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, August 30, 2006

August 29, 2006 marked the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As a New Orleans native and someone who was personally affected by one of the worst disasters to hit the United States, I was shocked that there was not more coverage in The Observer. The only mention of Hurricane Katrina was a reprint of an Associated Press article on Page 6 and a quote by Father Bill Lies in an article on CSC seminars. I found Lies’ quote to be especially poignant: “With the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina upon us, these seminars give students the opportunities to ask questions we need to be asking, especially at a Catholic university.” Clearly, Lies recognizes the importance of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the response that should be evoked at a Catholic university. But what about everyone else? The question I would like to ask is “Does the Notre Dame community even care about the widespread destruction and despair in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina?” I would hope that the answer is “Yes.”

Having been at Notre Dame as a senior when the September 11 attacks occurred, I know that the Notre Dame community can be very compassionate and quick in responding to tragic events. However, I feel that the victims of Hurricane Katrina have been forgotten by Notre Dame and by the rest of the country. New Orleans is still in the very beginning stages of cleaning up. Things are by no means “back to normal.” In fact, things will never be the way they were before the storm. So many people lost everything during Katrina. Those who survived the storm are still struggling to make it through each day. I feel like we have all seen and heard the news stories of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, but somehow we have grown complacent. Somehow we feel like it is not our problem. Somehow we feel like we are too far away to make a difference.

These are not the responses I am used to hearing from Notre Dame students. Notre Dame is not just another university. Notre Dame is a place where people care about each other and strive to help those near and far, being true to our Christian mission of service and love. Being part of the Notre Dame family means more than just being on campus in South Bend. Let us not forget that the Notre Dame family extends beyond all geographical boundaries. Right now the people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast need our help. Let us not forget them.

Marie-Therese Mansfield

grad student

Howard Hall

Aug. 29