August 21, 2015
Professor Katherine Mattes, then-deputy director of the Criminal Litigation Clinic, documents flood damage to the Orleans Parish Prison evidence room as part of her work helping restore a functioning criminal justice system.
Photo courtesy of Katherine Mattes
The Reily Center provides a dramatic view of post-Katrina flooding on the lakeside of Tulane’s uptown campus.
Tulane University Archives
Students, faculty and staff scattered for the fall 2005 semester, but law school classes resumed in January 2006.
Tulane University Archives
Ten years ago, large swaths of New Orleans sat underwater, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures that followed. Businesses and homes were destroyed, and families were displaced. It’s taken a decade of healing and rebuilding to bring the city back to life.
Flooding on Tulane’s campuses, water damage and the disruption of basic city services forced students to scatter across the country, initially desperately searching for information about the future of their education. Most upper-class Tulane Law School students spent the fall semester at other schools, but most first-year students waited until the school reopened in January to cram an entire year’s worth of coursework into one extended semester. About 85 percent of students eventually returned, including two-thirds of the 1L class.
Faculty and staff had to scramble, too.
They sheltered with elderly parents, bunked with relatives thousands of miles away, spent countless hours trying to restore a communications network and provide answers. Many returned as soon as possible to get the law school back up and running, even as they repaired their own damaged homes.
Professors also provided vital legal assistance to the city. For instance, New Orleans native Tania Tetlow, now a Tulane associate provost, was only a few months into her job as director of the Domestic Violence Clinic when Katrina hit. After evacuating for a couple of months, she returned to volunteer at a FEMA disaster center and help restore the city’s public library system. Criminal law faculty were instrumental in bringing the criminal justice system back to functioning.
The stories of devastation and renewal are plentiful. To commemorate Katrina’s 10-year anniversary, the law school will host panels on Aug. 26 and 31 with faculty, staff and alumni reflecting on the hurricane’s impact on the university, the law school and the city and recounting faculty members’ roles in the city’s long and continuing recovery.
Both panels are open to the public:
Tulane Law School Reflections on Katrina -- Aug. 26, 4:30-6 p.m.
Moderator: Dean David Meyer
— Carlos Dávila-Caballero (L ’97), former assistant dean for Career Development & Diversity Initiatives (2003-2011), now director of Diversity and Inclusion for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York
— Mike DePetrillo (L ’07), Jones Walker partner
— Avione Brown Pichon (L ’08), attorney and managing director, District and School Partnerships, Teach for America in New Orleans
— Professor Tania Tetlow, associate provost for International Affairs
— Colleen Timmons, assistant dean for Academic Services
After the Storm: Tulane Law School’s Role in Rebuilding -- Aug. 31, 4:30-6 p.m.
Moderator: Associate Dean and Professor Adam Feibelman
— Professor Adam Babich, director of the Environmental Law Clinic
— Professor Oliver Houck, environmental law specialist
See: "Can We Save New Orleans?"
— David Marcello (L ’71), executive director of The Public Law Center
See: "Systemic Ethics Reform in Katrina's Aftermath"
— Professor Katherine Mattes, director of the Criminal Litigation Clinic
— Professor Pam Metzger, former director of the Criminal Litigation Clinic
See: "Me and Mr. Jones: A Systems-Based Analysis of a Catastrophic Defense Outcome"
— Professor Stacy Seicshnaydre (L ’92), director of the Civil Litigation Clinic
See: "In Search of a Just Public Housing Policy Post-Katrina"
See: "How Government Housing Perpetuates Racial Segregation: Lessons from Post-Katrina New Orleans"
Both panels are scheduled for the Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room 110. The Aug. 26 event will be followed by a reception in the Marian Mayer Berkett Multipurpose Room.