Yesterday I had several student advising meetings.
As I talk with students, I often note their telephone area code (they usually keep their cell phones from home) on the information sheet they fill out before advising with me, and ask, "So, where's home?" (Usually it's in Texas.)
Yesterday, a young lady responded to that question: "Galveston County."
I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry - how is your family doing?" "Well," she said, "my parents are living in a FEMA trailer."
Tears came to my eyes. I had to apologize to her. She said, "No, really, it's okay - they are repairing our house, and my mom works for a construction company, so there's lots of work and her job is really secure."
As I thought about it later, I realized that my tears were not so much for her family in the FEMA trailer, where she will celebrate Thanksgiving with them soon - but for the fact that we do not hear about Galveston, Bolivar, Crystal Beach, Kemah, etc. Almost immediately following that terrible disaster, the economy tanked out...the election geared up...and we stopped getting news about the storm, the people, the devastation.
I learned today from the Galveston News that the UT Medical Branch is laying off 3,800 full-time staff members - an enormous impact in a city that depends greatly on those workers. That wasn't in my paper, 300 miles to the north in the same state, this morning.
In general, as the president of the News says in a recent editorial, "The world must hear how Galveston's hurting." He refers to "the war zone previously known as downtown Galveston."
This is certainly not the first time this forgetting/misunderstanding has happened. I remember hearing how St. Casserole's daughter mentioned to someone on the outside that her family had been through Hurricane Katrina - devastating in their area of Mississippi - and was told, dismissively, "Oh, that was just in New Orleans."
Don't let's forget. One way to remember: buying this book, due out in late November. There's a discussion forum on the same site where you can read stories from people still struggling.