We thought endlessly about the firefighters who rushed into the buildings; I talked with my family about the selfless man who stayed with his wheelchair-bound friend in the building. After September 11, stories of hope, perseverance and camraderie soothed the nation?s battered soul. Now, after Katrina, we are in need again of great tales, but there are few such uplifting stories coming out of Katrina and its aftermath to match.
Perhaps reporters at the scene and editors in the newsrooms were so captured by the astonishing chaos that they were blind to the hopeful stories. Maybe the persisting ill communication between scattered people, unreliable cell phones, and offline email providers has prevented these stories from reaching the public eye.
But the stories are there: There are people across the globe who have donated a collective $867.3 million; thousands of people who have welcomed the refugees; and colleges and universities across the country that have made homes for the students who were displaced.
One post-Katrina story that is particularly inspiring to me is the perseverance exhibited by the leadership of the Hullabaloo, the student-run weekly newspaper of T?ulane University.
On Saturday, I spoke to Kate Schafer, the Editor-in-Chief of the Hullabaloo. ?My personal goal is to try and publish online weekly,? she told me on Saturday.
Much like the staff of The Tartan, editors and writers of the Hullabaloo had returned to New Orleans early to produce and publish their first issue of the year. Even some new first-year students had come early to get involved straight away. Their staff worked for two weeks and on Friday, August 26, the Hullabaloo?s orientation issue hit the stands across campus ? just in time for the evacuation to begin.
?Our number one concern was safety,? says Schafer, who recognized that they could report on the story once the evacuation was complete.
The staff thought quickly. In spite of the confusion, the Hullabaloo?s business manager, Maggie Brook, was able to rescue the newspaper?s computer server.
By the end of the day, everyone was gone.
Once the hurricane passed, the students who make up Hullabaloo?s staff scrambled to find host schools for the semester. News co-editor Christina Le says that now ?our staff is fully dispersed across the nation.?
With Tulane?s e-mail out of service and New Orleans cellphones down, coordinating a staff must have seemed a daunting task. But from undamaged parts of Louisiana to London, staff members of the Hullabaloo sent messages via AOL Instant Messenger and the Facebook to Schafer asking for assignments.
Now attending the the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where the staff of the Daily Pennsylvanian took her in, Schafer is working to organize a cohesive staff from people who are scattered across the country.
?We will be conducting online chatroom meetings and keeping in contact as much as possible,? says Le. Their first meeting was Sunday night.
The Tartan?s Editor-in-Chief and I are very familiar with the complexity of coordinating a weekly newspaper with everyone on campus ? and the ambition of the Hullabaloo editors amazes me. Their work will help fellow students by delivering to them a bit of normalcy.
?These students are across the country. It is our responsibility as the Hullabaloo ... to keep the student body together,? says Schafer.
On behalf of The Tartan, I offer any help we can give, and I applaud the staff of the Hullabaloo for upholding their mission to report the student news.