GSU students get update on post-Katrina Big Easy

A Grambling native was among the officials who met with Dr. Sarah Dennis’ public policy and state and local government classes when the group went to New Orleans recently to study the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina.Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, director of Clinical Services for the City of New Orleans, talked to the group about the status of health care pre- and post-Katrina.

Other areas the classes sought to study were the educational system, public housing and crime. Class members were in the city to embark on specific group projects in these areas.

Upon arrival, the group met with members of the state Legislature, the Recovery School District and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The students gained thorough knowledge of the demolishing/rebuilding/reopening of schools, the prevalence of charter schools, and the implementation of a “master plan” as a means to revamp the way forward for the educational system.

The group next met with Ed Scott, public housing director of the Housing Authority of New Orleans. Students then volunteered their services and assisted in the refurbishing of buildings in the Iberville Housing Units.

An enlightening moment was the group’s visit to the Lower Ninth Ward to view the progress – or lack thereof-of the state’s efforts in the rebuilding process.

In the group’s visit with Dr. Crear-Perry, she said the city’s efforts are focused on “rebuilding Methodist and the new Charity Hospital, a project that will take a minimum of three years and perhaps as many as 10 years.”

New Orleans currently has four hospitals open, half of the pre-Katrina number, said Dr. Crear-Perry, who is a product of the Grambling Lab Schools.

The group next met with the chief of police, Lt. Lawrence Weatherspoon, at Police Headquarters.

The trip enabled students to gain invaluable firsthand experience and knowledge of the major aspects of New Orleans’ recovery after Hurricane Katrina.