A pal of mine, whose mother works for one of the region’s power companies, passed on some information that she’d gotten via email. I’m not going to quote the message directly, but will report a few of the facts that it includes, below the fold.
The LSU campus in Baton Rouge has apparently been largely turned over to emergency services. The school is hosting a special needs shelter and temporary medical triage/transfer activities. The Pete Maravich Assembly Center has been turned into a 250 bed temporary hospital; all available housing is being used to support FEMA and other government officials; the Bernie Moore Track Stadium has been turned into a three-pad helicopter landing site, operating around the clock to bring refugees out of New Orleans; and the Field House has been put to use as a special needs shelter, housing between 350 and 400 seriously ill patients.
The school has also set aside a great deal of land for the development of tent cities. Nearly every available apartment in Baton Rouge has been rented by FEMA, and the city is filled with people camping out in parking lots.
In fact — and this comes not from the email message, but from my parents, and from press sources as well — the population of Baton Rouge has doubled since the hurricane. The city, whose infrastructure was already straining under the rapid growth it underwent during the late 1990s and early 2000s, is facing a serious crisis.
I hope, though, that the city is able to treat this moment as an opportunity — an opportunity to serve a population in crisis, but also an opportunity to become the world-class city it has long had the potential to be.