Oral Health Group
Feature

Intact, though different

September 1, 2005
by Catherine Wilson, Editor


In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks… Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.”

Hurricane Katrina wasn’t about a president or a federal agency. It wasn’t about a mayor or a governor. Forget about the unused buses. Forget about what brings out the good in some and the worst in others. Forget the calamity that followed the catastrophe. But never, ever, forget about the people. Those who died… those who lived.

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The following words are not my own but those of Julie Moreau. We met Julie and her husband, Dr. James Moreau, at a dental conference not too long ago.

It’s overwhelming to hear from friends as far away as [Dental Practice Management] is in Toronto and know you’re thinking about us.

Our family is safe. We left for Houston at 4:30 a.m. Sunday and sat on a hotel bed for three days staring at the TV, trying to reconcile what we were looking at with our reality. We made it back to Baton Rouge (an hour from home) yesterday and are staying with friends here for a few days. We’re going to try to probe into our neighborhood today to assess home and office and grab some things we didn’t get the first time… like the family rabbit and kid’s prescriptions. I may take our kids to Northern Alabama and enroll them in school there for the foreseeable future. I am going to start making some phone calls today to study my options. Even if we have power within a few weeks, the area is so devastated that people will not be concerned with dental appointments for a while. Fortunately we, and all our loved ones, made it out of the city. There’s utter devastation there and deteriorating by the moment.

Our lives are changed. Things here may never return to what they were. But we will make it through this intact, though different.

Two weeks later…

We’re doing well under the circumstances though our future is very uncertain at this time. I’m in Alabama with our kids, staying at my parents’ house. Kids are enrolled in local schools with their cousins and are happy. Jim is back in LA, on the other hand, and is not happy.

Our property did well. No major structural damage and power was restored relatively quickly to our home and office due to proximity to a hospital and state troopers’ headquarters. Many other local businesses and residents still do not have power. Our Northshore community seems to be optimistic about making a comeback, perhaps even stronger than we were before. But for now, there are not very many people seeking dental services.

Jimmie’s trying to be in our office as much as possible to be available for emergencies. For about a week, he was the only dentist in operation. Made a spray-paint sign to put out front to let people know he was open. He has also tried working temporarily out of a dental office in Baton Rouge, an hour away, just to make some pocket change. Hasn’t proven to be very productive and he thinks next week he’ll try just staying put in our office and see what happens.

We’re considering options for part-time employment/practice in other states to help pay some bills while we’re waiting to see the momentum swing upward at home. Jimmie’s such a N’awlins boy, it would hard for him to uproot and begin again, but many N’awlins boys now find themselves in the same position with few options.


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