Message from the Dean regarding the impact of Hurricane Katrina

August 31, 2005
Our hearts and thoughts go out to all who are affected by this tragic storm and its aftermath. I know that some of you have family and friends in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and I hope they are okay. Pierre Buekens, one of our former chairs here at the SPH, is now Dean of the school of public health at Tulane University. He is safe but says they have sustained substantial devastation.Sadly, yet thankfully, it is at times like these that the words “public health” cease to be abstractions. As you read about the catastrophic loss along the Gulf, appreciate the leadership, stamina and calm efficiency of the people who are delivering fresh water, food, and sound advice to the victims. Others are working tirelessly to find alternative care for the ill and injured and to begin restoring the health infrastructure of the region.

Mixed with our shock and grief at the devastation, we can also feel pride in the public health community who are on the front lines to slow, stop and eventually heal the damage Katrina and her aftermath have wrought. To them, we offer thanks and support.

Our School of Public Health has substantial strength in preparedness. I am asking John Graham to convene with Peggy Bentley, Pia MacDonald, Dave Potenziani and Jim Porto to meet and talk in the next day or two about what we can offer to our colleagues at Tulane and to the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi. They should include other experts from the SPH. In addition to preparedness assistance, we should investigate whether we can offer educational assistance, as Dr. Kilpatrick has wisely suggested, for example, access to our core online courses.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to do what you can as individuals, whether it is giving blood, donations or lending your knowledge of preparedness. Those of us who have endured hurricanes can understand the devastation they wreck, and Katrina has been so much worse.

For further information please contact Ramona DuBose by email at ramona_dubose@unc.edu