On Feb. 7, I received my first issue of C&EN since the levees broke following Hurricane Katrina. Evidently, the postal service has begun to lift its ban on all but first-class mail that has been in effect even in the suburbs of New Orleans. I have not received an issue of Time yet, but C&EN is now getting through!
Most amazingly, the first issue I received was the "Faces of the Storm" issue (C&EN, Nov. 21, 2005), featuring our ACS Louisiana Section councilor, Jack Stocker, on the cover. Having seen so many recent photos of homeowners standing in front of devastated homes, I didn't even give the cover a second look at first; only later did I recognize the subject and sit down to read the riveting cover story.
The stories of ACS members who were victims of the broken levees are so typical of tens of thousands down here. I particularly appreciated the story of the Rosenzweigs' "Refugee Girls" from the University of New Orleans, as I had met two of them at a motel in Jackson, Miss. The sisters from Brazil, Vania DePaoli and Silvia Lacerda, have been in my thoughts since those early days immediately after the levees broke. They were unsure of their future, the effect on their careers, and were so far from home and family. I last spoke with them the day before they were to leave for New York City. To learn that they and their fellow refugee girls are safe and continuing their research was welcome news.
Almost six months later, New Orleans-area scientists are still scattered across the country, and the city is still devastated. My lab, the Agriculture Department's Southern Regional Research Center, had 6 feet of water on the ground floor, and the research projects have been scattered to other USDA labs and universities across the country. Because of family responsibilities and an undamaged home, I retired from USDA in November rather than relocate, and am looking forward to the return of former colleagues, I hope, by the end of 2006. The "Faces of the Storm" issue of C&EN was a voice from the past that was much appreciated.