Gulf Coast Libraries Mostly Spared, but Power Outages Keep Many Closed

Gulf Coast Libraries Mostly Spared, but Power Outages Keep Many Closed

On the eve of the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed or damaged libraries and schools throughout the Gulf Coast region, Hurricane Gustav hit land September 1, but the area was spared the predicted destruction that had prompted the evacuation of the Crescent City and surrounding communities. Nevertheless, fallen trees and power outages were widespread and area libraries are still assessing the damage.

The Louisiana Library Status Blog indicated that the state library was without power until late on September 5; the problem was plaguing many public libraries as well. St. Charles Parish Libraries Director Mary desBordes indicated that the system will not reopen until electricity was restored and sewers were functioning. The Avoyelles Parish Library posted that out of seven branches, three experienced damage—the Simmesport branch major roof and water damage. Ironically, the Bunkle branch “narrowly missed major water damage, not directly from the storm but from a fire which broke out in the building next door.” State library officials said they had made direct contact with most libraries and some damage had been reported at Point Coupee and East Baton Rouge libraries.

New Orleans Public Library notified blog readers September 5 that officials would assess on September 8 “if the interior of all branches are in good shape,” after which a reopening schedule would be established. In the meantime, the library’s website its catalog and subscription databases remained available.

At Tulane University in New Orleans, President Scott Cowen wrote on his blog September 3 that he and several colleagues had returned that morning and toured the campuses and parts of the city. “Our campuses sustained minimal damage,” he said. “Our preliminary assessment found broken windows, debris on the ground, missing roof tiles and some water in the basements of a few buildings. Our facilities services people believe they will attend to most of the issues prior to classes resuming on Monday.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported September 5 that some Southeastern states had declared emergencies and officials were urging residents to head inland as Tropical Storm Hanna headed toward the Atlantic coast, where it could bring high winds and rain from South Carolina all the way to Maine. The National Hurricane Center was predicting that Hurricane Ike would sweep across the already-storm-ravaged Caribbean by September 9 on its way past south Florida; Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency September 5.

Posted on September 5, 2008. Discuss.