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News Tips: Hurricane Katrina Aftermath
Editor's Note: Duke provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews. We are also equipped with ISDN connectivity for radio interviews. Broadcast reporters should contact the Office of Radio-TV Services at (919) 681-8067 to arrange an interview.
PUMPING OUT NEW ORLEANS' FLOODWATERS -- The pumping of New Orleans floodwaters into Lake Pontchartrain will create "long-term, harmful implications for the lake ecosystem and future human use of the area," warns Duke environmental engineer Karl Linden. He advises that "before any pumping from industrial areas occurs, it is imperative that an assessment be made of the level and types of pollutants present." Linden can be reached at (919) 660-5196 or email@example.com.
RAISING THE LEVEL OF NEW ORLEANS -- The examples of Galveston and Chicago attest to the practicality of raising New Orleans above the river, or at least above Lake Pontchartrain, says Duke engineering professor Henry Petroski, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers' History and Heritage Committee. He said he doesn't know if engineers would consider something similar for New Orleans. "The challenges would be enormous. The city is so much larger than Galveston was in 1900. But, on the other hand, they have many more resources and tools that the Galveston engineers didn't have. These are difficult tasks, but this is the kind of thing engineers are supposed to do."Petroski can be reached at (919) 660-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMPERILED WETLANDS -- Curtis Richardson, a professor of resource ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and director of Duke's Wetland Center, has studied imperiled wetlands in Florida's Everglades and Iraq's Mesopotamian Marshes, and sees parallels with the equally imperiled wetlands on the Gulf side of New Orleans. "Both the Iraqi marshes and these marshes have sustained their nations with seafood and gas and oil as well as protected the people who live there. But they are not given very much value." He said wetland destruction has many causes, including land subsidence from subterranean fossil fuel pumping, sea level rise, channelization for boat traffic and massive flood control measures upstream on the Mississippi that now deprives the region of needed silt and nutrients. Richardson can be reached at (919) 613-8006 or email@example.com.
FUTURE LOOK OF NEW ORLEANS -- Hurricane Katrina is but the latest chapter in a 165-year decline for the City of New Orleans, says Jacob Vigdor, assistant professor of public policy and economics. Once the nation's third largest metropolis, it has lost more than 160,000 residents since 1960 -- an average of 10 per day for 45 years. The city was home to a large impoverished population that remained there largely because it lacked the resources to move anywhere else. The post-evacuation New Orleans will thus likely be much smaller, with its poor former residents most noticeably absent. Vigdor can be reached at (919) 613-9226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HURRICANE VICTIMS AS IMMIGRANTS -- The large numbers of Louisiana and Mississippi citizens displaced by Katrina and scattered across the country provide insight into "just how bewildering it is for immigrants from abroad to find their way - â and why our current immigration policies do little to address this," says Noah Pickus, associate director of Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics, an adjunct associate professor of public policy and author of the new book "True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism." This massive relocation of U.S. citizens raises questions about what kinds of demands citizens, as opposed to immigrants/refugees, can make on one another. Pickus can be reached at (919) 660-3033 or email@example.com.
RACISM AND THE RESPONSE TO KATRINA -- New Orleans, like far too many of America's urban centers, needed a Marshall Plan (like the one in Iraq), long before Katrina came ashore, says Mark Anthony Neal, associate professor of African and African American Studies. The failure of the federal government to fully address the city's near state of crisis before Katrina -- including the failure to deal with an aging and inadequate levee system -- had a great deal to do with the kinds of people who lived there. The initially tepid and lazy response to Katrina in New Orleans wasn't just a product of racist neglect. It was also the product of the devaluation of whole communities because they didn't posses political capital. Neal can be reached at (919) 684-3987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EFFECT ON BEACHFRONT COMMUNITIES -- "You just cannot justify massive building and rebuilding near the most dangerous property in the United States," says Orrin H. Pilkey Jr., a professor emeritus of geology who directs Duke's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. Pilkey and program associate director Andrew S. Coburn -- who took startling photographs of Katrina's wrath during an overflight of the Gulf region -- have long warned of the pitfalls of construction within dynamic beachfront environments, frequently located along barrier islands that actually migrate in response to storms and rising sea levels. Pilkey can be reached at (919) 684-4238 or email@example.com. Coburn can be reached at 684-2206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN DISASTERS -- Using an analogy to the 1930s Dust Bowl in the southern Plains, associate professor of history and public policy Gunther Peck says Katrina highlights the need for a strong federal government committed to protecting the rights and needs of its citizens, no matter how poor. "The Dust Bowl prompted important pieces of the New Deal, from farm supports to conservation and environmental planning. Now, Katrina is raising similar questions about the role federal authorities should take in rebuilding New Orleans and helping the urban poor who lived there. After a quarter century of cutting taxes, privatizing functions and dis-investing from cities, is the government prepared to act, once again, as the guarantor of the common good?" Peck can be reached at (919) 668-5297 or email@example.com.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO HEALTH EPIDEMICS -- The federal government has expanded to respond to past public health epidemics in the South but may not be able or willing to do so in response to health problems from Katrina, says history professor Margaret Humphreys, author of "Yellow Fever and the South" and "Malaria: Poverty, Race and Public Health in the United States." "Relief came in the 19th and 20th centuries from a growing federal public health bureaucracy, created in large measure to deal with the health threats emerging in and from the south -- the U.S. Public Health Service in response to yellow fever and the Center for Disease Control in reaction to malaria." She says the weak state and local response to Katrina did not surprise her because "a strong public health response depends in part on the availability of a tax base able to support such governmental intervention, and on the will of the political elite to take care of those most likely to be the victims of public health deficits, the urban and rural poor." Humphreys can be reached at (919) 684-2285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEADERSHIP -- "After Katrina, the absence of leadership brought out the worst in many people," says Sim Sitkin, associate professor of management at Duke's Fuqua School of Business and faculty director of the Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics at Fuqua. Sitkin can talk not only about leadership lessons learned during the Katrina aftermath, but the challenges that now face FEMA, in particular the challenge to restore trust. "Chaos emerges in a crisis when there is a gap in leadership. After 9/11, the emergence of strong leadership brought out the best in citizens of this country. After Katrina, the absence of leadership brought out the worst in many people. We are now beginning to witness the goodness of citizens and emergency workers, who are providing the leadership that was so sorely lacking. People are resilient and can rise to the occasion, but this is one of those situations where an absence of leadership has literally cost lives." Sitkin can be reached at (919) 660-2946 or email@example.com.
The director of Duke's Hart Leadership Program, Alma Blount, her faculty colleagues and her students are examining through their coursework and through informal meetings what leadership lessons can be gleaned from the Katrina aftermath. Blount, who teaches the first-year public policy class "Civic Participation, Community Leadership," says the catastrophe underscores the urgent need for three kinds of leadership: "Taking charge and exercising authority; asking the tough questions and exercising leadership within complex systems; and ad hoc leadership."Blount can be reached at (919) 613-7323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
James A. Joseph, Leader in Residence for Duke's Hart Leadership Program, notes that different forms of leadership are needed depending on the situation. "What does it mean that in the context of the days following the flooding that the kind of leadership that worked best was General Honore's military authority? We need to consider the role of context in shaping leadership styles and strategies." Joseph, who has taught the course "Leadership as a Moral Activity" and is a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, is a native of southwest Louisiana. Joseph can be reached at (910) 668-6907 or email@example.com.
ANALYZING MEDIA COVERAGE -- In his Race and Ethnic Inequality seminar, public policy professor Robert Korstad and his students have analyzed the way the media, through articles as well as photographs and editorial cartoons about Katrina, have repeatedly reinforced ugly racial stereotypes. Korstad can be reached at (919) 613-7335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP -- Public policy professor Tony Brown has challenged the students in his social entrepreneurship class to come up with ideas that combine their commitment to being socially responsible citizens with entrepreneurial ideas that are different from what's already being done. One idea the class has discussed is forming a "giving circle." Students would contribute their own money and raise funds from family and friends, then collectively decide where specifically to target the money for optimal results. Brown can be reached at (919) 613-7347 or email@example.com.
HELPING CHILDREN COPE -- Ken Dodge, director of Duke's Center for Child and Family Policy at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, can discuss how to talk with children about tragedy and feeling safe. Dodge can be reached at (919) 613-7319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Fairbank, co-director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, can discuss the effects of repeated viewing of the disaster on kids. Fairbank can be reached at (919) 682-1552 or email@example.com.
ROLE OF RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS -- Dr. Keith Meador, director of the Duke Divinity School's Theology and Medicine Program, can share insights for pastoral care in a time of loss. Meador can be reached at (919) 660-3488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PREPARING A HOSPITAL FOR A DISASTER -- Jim Chang, the emergency management coordinator for Duke University Hospital, said the Katrina disaster points out the importance of regular review of current emergency plans and yearly assessments of risks that are unique to particular communities, agencies and businesses. Chang regularly helps in the coordination of preparedness drills within Duke University Hospital and with external groups at both the local and state levels. He can be reached at (919) 681-2933.
IN ADDITION, The Duke Medicine Hurricane Relief Team has been keeping a blog of its experiences in Mississippi, at http://www.dukemedteams.blogspot.com/.
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