The Daily Star — A recent SUNY Oneonta graduate evacuated from New Orleans on Monday because of Hurricane Isaac. With the storm on its way, Liz Frawley, 22, of Niskayuna, evacuated from the city to stay in Houston with family to see what was going to happen.
Frawley and several local people who are familiar with the area talked about their concerns about the storm Tuesday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm made landfall at 6:45 p.m. about 90 miles southeast of New Orleans. Evacuations were ordered in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, and by late Tuesday more than 100,000 homes were without power.
Frawley graduated from State University College at Oneonta in May with an undergraduate degree in psychology. She recently moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University, where she is enrolled in the master’s degree program in social work. It was “surprising” to have to flee, but “it was a safe decision,” she said. “I don’t want to rush it.”
She said she stopped watching the weather after she left, but planned on looking into it later Tuesday to make plans. “Everyone’s main concern is the flooding,” she said.
She said has no regrets about going to New Orleans.
“I fell in love with the city” when there in 2010 as part of the SUNY Oneonta geography club to help rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, she said. The storm devastated the area August 2005.
“It was a very good experience” working with others, Frawley said. “I was lucky enough to return.”
The group was led by SUNY Oneonta assistant professor of geography Wendy Mitteager. She has been to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area about 15 times since Hurricane Katrina to help with relief and rebuilding, through the college and privately. She takes the college’s geography club to New Orleans about once a year. Her specialty is coastal zone management, so she has a natural attraction to the region, she said.
She was following Hurricane Isaac closely Tuesday, checking regularly with the National Hurricane Center.
Looking at the current situation, “it seems like we don’t learn” from the past. While people are better prepared to evacuate, the government has not invested enough in the recovery. She said she hopes there won’t be any major problems, but it is too early to tell. The people are “wonderful” and she said she’s hoping they are spared a repetition of the events of 2005.
“I have real fondness for the area,” she said “I love the city, it has a great soul.”
SUNY Oneonta Center for Social Responsibility and Community Director Linda Drake said she helped organize groups of students in February and March 2006 to help with the cleanup on the Gulf Coast. The college has made other efforts since then. When she first arrived at Pass Christian in Mississippi in 2006, the storm surge “made it look like a bomb had hit. Nothing made sense” and there was so much destruction. The thought of the region going through something similar, “makes my heart sink,” she said.
Retired Oneonta High School social studies teacher David Forbes said he went to New Orleans in 2009 with a group of area students as part of the Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Church in America. He was born in New Orleans and lived about three years there before his family moved to New York. He was glad to find the former family home standing but when he went running he found areas still devastated.