Despite differences in age, race, religion and hometowns, every person there has one thing in common: they are all taking another small step in trying to figure out the next chapter of their lives. Most are waiting for a free tetanus shot so they can return to areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
One elderly couple sits and holds hands. They've rented an apartment in Crowley so they can be near their children and grandchildren in Lafayette. They say the people in Crowley have been wonderful and helped them at every opportunity. Do they plan on returning home?
"We're from St. Bernard," says the man.
He doesn't need to say anything else.
Farther down the row of chairs, a middle-aged professional with a briefcase is next in line for a tetanus shot. "I'm going back today for the first time, but it's just a formality," he says. "I'm from Buras."
For so many people, the last six weeks have been an agonizing wait filled with questions. When will the water be safe to drink? What will my insurance company cover? Where will my children go to school? Who will be returning to my neighborhood?
How do I move forward and rebuild my life?
There are no easy answers to many of the questions, especially when issues of infrastructure, public safety and housing are involved. But the scene inside the Clifton Chenier Center is happening in different ways and locations across the state and country. At press time, every zip code in New Orleans except the lower Ninth Ward was open to residents and visitors, and in Cameron Parish and Lake Charles, homeowners and residents were surveying damage and trying to construct a post-Hurricane Rita plan of action. Somehow, some way, people are trying to move forward.
The psychological effects of the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita are palpable. Besides people directly impacted by the storms, there is a ripple effect for other residents that stretches across the state. Here in Lafayette, many citizens are helping our family, friends and neighbors from the east and west. For The Independent's cover story in this week's issue, contributing writer Jeremy Alford interviewed a number of people in Lafayette ' residents, evacuees, emergency responders, doctors and psychologists ' and chronicles the process of how we can start mending our spirits and psyche.
Even people directly unaffected by the hurricanes must process an avalanche of images and stories from the media ' and there's no telling how the quantity and placement of post-hurricane coverage will change in the coming months. Louisiana Press Association Director Pam Mitchell-Wagner told Alford she's concerned that post-hurricane coverage in regions outside of New Orleans and the affected areas will soon be phased out in favor of other stories.
A number of readers have asked when The Independent will start doing "non-hurricane" stories. To some extent, we've already done that with recent features and reviews in our Living Ind section; arts and entertainment and community events are a vital and important part of our community and provide an especially welcome respite in such turbulent times. And in our news section this week, a number of stories and items ' such as the controversial land swap between UL Lafayette and a local developer, the announcement that retail icon Abdalla's is closing down, and a new lawsuit filed by BellSouth over Lafayette Utilities System's fiber-to-the-home initiative ' reflect our unchanged commitment to covering stories and issues that impact the Lafayette community.
And continued post-hurricane coverage will undoubtedly be a part of our editorial mix. The impact of Katrina and Rita ' on everything from the state budget, tourism, our economy and countless other areas ' will continue to be profound and unexpected at times. We will report and write what it all means for Acadiana, and welcome your feedback.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.