House of the Rising Sun

July 5, 2006

Ten months ago, I began this sports weblog precisely when the Gulf Coast was being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Two weeks ago in late June, several colleagues and I traveled to New Orleans to the annual convention of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The convention area of the city, including the French Quarter, is making a comeback with familiar signs of life, like people, taxis, restaurants, and business conventions similar to the one we attended. Large swaths of the city, however, have not been so fortunate. Some of us were able to explore these surrounding areas and witness the unchanged aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Bourbon Street Beat: Sheriff Kevin Wildes, SJ is flanked by his deputies Francis '89 and Matthew `97 Rienzo

Galatoire's, the grand dame of New Orleans' old-line restaurants, fills its dining rooms every night, just as it did pre-Katrina

GU Hall of Fame runner John Gregorek `82 joined the Hoya contingent at luncheon honoring former AD Frank Rienzo

Georgetown AD Bernard Muir greets and welcomes Fr. Kevin to the NACDA luncheon


At the time of the hurricane, I wrote about Fr. Kevin Wildes, SJ, former associate dean of Georgetown College, and now president of Loyola University New Orleans. He returned to Georgetown last October as he visited his students who spent the fall semester at colleges and universities around the country. On this trip to the Big Easy, I spent several hours and meals with the good Jesuit and am happy to report that he is well, despite logging some serious hours this past year keeping his educational ship afloat. The university has had to make some painful layoffs recently, but still expects an entering class with only 20% fewer freshmen than last year. Upperclass enrollment is holding steady and with minimal damage to the campus from the hurricane, the future of the school is a lot brighter than most of the surrounding city.

Located on higher ground in the Garden District, the handsome campus of Loyola NO looks to be in terrific shape. The school could be a key resource for the future of the city

Cable cars are running once again, connecting the Garden District to the French Quarter

Some home owners have returned to their damaged abodes and set up trailers in their driveways in which to live

A prominent icon on the landscape, the Louisiana SuperDome took some hits but still stands - awaiting future competition


Fr. Wildes provided several of us with an auto excursion into some of the city areas affected by Katrina. He calls it the "depression tour" because he cannot take such an expedition more often than every three months without getting really down. He spared us the very worst sections of the city and we got a glimpse of the beautiful campus of Loyola NO. I was not able to comprehend fully how all the damage occurred until, after returning home, I viewed this very informative link that graphically shows how the storm enveloped the city.

The levee of the 17th Street Canal has been rebuilt after its breech led to the flooding of the Lakeview section of New Orleans

A new landmark? The Leaning Marina of Lakeview on Lake Pontchartrain

Wind and flooding devastated most of the homes in the Lakeview area

National Guard troops have been posted to protect open homes such as these


With a further urge to explore, I joined with fellow Hoya George O'Sullivan and drove up the Gulf Coast to Mobile, Alabama. Along the way, we saw the full destructive impact of Katrina's fury. Where there were once thriving oceanside communities along state highway 90, there are now miles and miles of sandy beaches, deserted acreage, and washed out bridges.

State highway 90 westbound came to an abrupt end just shy of Biloxi, Mississippi

Curiously, Katrina often spared the commercial signs but not the establishments behind them on the Mississippi coast

Twisted metal poles and hollowed out ground floors were typical of surviving structures in Biloxi

One of the rare structures still standing on the strip of sand between the gulf waters and highway 90


Paradoxically, it was comforting to return from Mississippi, the birthplace of the blues, to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, knowing that, as bad a hit as the Big Easy had taken, at least there was something to rebuild. The Crescent City is rising again - ever so slowly.

Larger than life, the spirit of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong still animates his native city

An appropriate parting message from the House of Blues in the French Quarter



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September 4
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UCLA
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September 8
4:00 PM
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7:00 PM
UMass-Lowell
Lowell, Mass.
September 9
TBA
Campbell
Buies Creek, N.C.
September 9
7:00 PM
UConn
Storrs, Conn.
September 10
1:00 PM
Rutgers
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September 10
12:00 PM
Holy Cross
Worcester, Mass.
September 15
2:00 PM
Quinnipiac
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September 16
TBA
Marist
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September 16
7:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
September 17
1:00 PM
Towson
Baltimore, Md.
September 17
12:00 PM
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September 18
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The Memphis Intercollegiate Memphis
Colonial Country Club - Memphis, Tenn.
September 19
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Colonial Country Club - Memphis, Tenn.
September 20
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Stony Brook
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