Cabrini alumna paints picture of New Orleans after Katrina

By Editorial Board
September 23, 2005

Below is a letter from a former Cabrini student and New Orleans native, Ashlee Lensmyer, to Associate Professor of English Dr. Seth Frechie. Lensmyer recently survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Although the Loquitur has covered this disaster as best as possible, it is difficult to relay the true impact of Hurricane Katrina better than this letter from a fellow member of the Cabrini community:
Dr. Frechie,

I just wanted to send you an update. My family and I have gotten two 2-bedroom apartments in Alexandria, La., until further notice. We went to my house about five days ago and it was quite possibly one of the most depressing things I have seen and I never thought I would actually say that I didn’t want to be at home. Although as of now all of my family is accounted for, we do believe though that we lost my cat in the Hurricane. She wouldn’t come for us to take her with us, so we had no other choice but to leave her there and just take my dog and hamster. When we went back, we neither saw nor heard signs of her. Our home for the most part was all right I guess, besides the horrible stench and every single tree on my block blown down and on top of houses It was better than the ones shown on TV, but bad for my area. We had no water so that is the best part. I have a ton of pictures, which someday I hope to put into a PowerPoint and share with people so they can see the real things and not just what is shown on television.

I got a phone call about my job (so far I had only been there long enough to receive one paycheck). They said that we will get one more paycheck and then they are hoping to get something set up maybe out of someone’s home who didn’t have damage to get some fundraising efforts going for the school because it got hit pretty bad with water and wind. The only problem is that I will only be getting paid around half of my paycheck and there may be no benefits. They are also trying to work that out. I was doing okay, but when I got that phone call last night I just hit really upset again.

It is just much harder than I show to anyone around here. I was hoping at one point to take a trip out of here to Philadelphia maybe, just to be around some different people and surroundings where the TV wasn’t always blaring about the places and people that were lost…all of which were dear to me. It’s just hard sitting around here and having no idea what is going on with your home.

I can’t even pinpoint what I need right now. My mom’s company sent us some air mattresses and we went to the food bank to get a box of food and then to the food stamp office to get that. We have gotten to a few of the Goodwill Stores and the Salvation Army who are both giving vouchers so then we can get some things we need. I got an American Flag from my house when I was there to hang in my room in the apartment…just to have some sense of home, but other than that I don’t have anything. I guess I just never saw myself living like this.

Thanks again for the phone call. It really is things like that, which are getting me through these days and helping me get up in the morning. It is all a lot tougher than I say on the phone, only because I have to appear to my family that I am okay. Thanks again.


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