Hurricane Story: Damage and Recovery
New Orleans on both sides of the river and running from
Lake Pontchartrain south to the Gulf of Mexico, Jefferson
Parish suffered immense damage from the wrath of Hurricane
Katrina, the resultant flooding caused by breaches in the
levee system, and the further ravages of Hurricane Rita’s
Parish Library, with sixteen locations strategically located
to serve the citizens of the parish, has experienced devastating
loss and destruction as a result. Fifteen per cent of Jefferson
Parish Library's collection of approximately one million
items has been lost.
information about the damage and the current status of each
location, accompanied by photographs, visit the links below.
At those locations now
open (indicated by asterisk*), bio-remediation to contain
bacteria and mold growth was completed before reopening,
and the facilities have been tested and determined by environmentalists
to be safe.
calendars of the opened locations* for scheduled activities
of our libraries received major damage to their structures
and contents and will be closed indefinitely (Gretna, and Lakeshore [Update: Gretna Library and Lakeshore
Library now open in temporary facilities; follow links above.] [Update #2: a new Gretna Library reopen March 17, 2010, on the site of the old library.]
). Significant damage to four libraries prevents their reopening
yet; they are going through demolition and repair and cannot
be reopened due to health and safety issues. These libraries
include Lafitte [Update: A new Lafitte Library reopened March 4, 2010, as part of the new Leo. E. Kerner Jr. City Park Multi-Purpose Complex in Lafitte.], Live Oak, North Kenner and Wagner. [Update:
North Kenner Library, Live Oak Library, Wagner Library and Belle Terre Library have now reopened;
two of our locations (Rosedale Library and River Ridge e-Branch)
were unharmed and able to open the first week of October,
along with East Bank Regional Library and West Bank Regional
Library, both of which were damaged but operational. Since
then, four other libraries which received relatively minor
damage have reopened (Harahan, Old Metairie, Terrytown [Update: Terrytown is currently closed for renovations.],
Kenner Library and Old Metairie Library reopened on May
1, 2006, with customer-focused rearrangements, an increased
number of Internet accessible computers, and wireless Internet
connectivity (wi-fi) for users with their own laptops. At
North Kenner Library, there has been a major expansion of
the children’s area, and services and materials for
Spanish-speaking customers have increased.
the Grand Isle Library received major damage, it reopened
on February 1, 2006, in a Cybermobile on loan from Muncie
(IN) Public Library, joined later by "Gertie,"
the bookmobile donated by Waukegan (IL) Public Library,
with a Grand Reopening held June 7, 2006.
Oak Library reopened on November 20, 2006, and as with North
Kenner and Old Metairie, a rearrangement to better serve
the customer, an expanded number of computers, and wi-fi
access to the Internet.
The Belle Terre Library reopened on August 29, 2008,
with customer-focused rearrangements, an increased number of Internet accessible computers,
and wireless Internet connectivity (wi-fi) for users with their own laptops.
The Wagner Library reopened on October 15th, 2008.
The number of public computers with internet access has been increased. Free wireless internet access (Wi-Fi) is available
for all library patrons with their own laptops.
will be some months before other locations can reopen.
Krewe of Jefferson Parish
Hurricane Katrina hit Jefferson Parish on August 29th, the
library krewe (the library director and members of the maintenance
and outreach departments) was back in the parish less than
24 hours later dealing with damaged library facilities and
resources. Krewe members stayed at East Bank Regional until
October 1. Other library staff reported for work on October
FEMA and the American Red Cross had not yet arrived, the
library krewe was pulled from making repairs to prepare
and distribute food and was unable to salvage portions of
the collections at Lakeshore and Gretna and contain the
damage at Belle Terre and Grand Isle.
FEMA had not prevented the use of local roofing firms prior
to Hurricane Rita, the library krewe could have utilized
those businesses to make temporary roof repairs and eliminate
or minimize Hurricane Rita's damage at East Bank Regional,
Lafitte, Live Oak, North Kenner, Old Metairie, and West
the water came on, the check valve on the sprinkler riser
did not open at Westwego and the fire sprinklers came on
in the meeting room at East Bank Regional. Consequently,
both libraries had additional water damage. It was the library
krewe who dealt with these types of issues, and we are grateful
for their tireless dedication in containing damage to the
best of their ability and with limited resources.
staff and library customers alike say that having libraries
open is part of their need for normalcy. Schools are more
dependent on us than ever before, and our library is essential
to the rebuilding of this community’s economy. A stronger
and more vibrant library will help us attract new businesses
and residents. The parish’s new motto is, "Its
time to build the Louisiana of our dreams." Jefferson
Parish Library is committed to our community by being available
to citizens of the area and those here to help with the
recovery--and by building better libraries for our future.
A special Katrina
Guest Card is available to non-residents of Jefferson
Parish. Because of a reciprocal arrangement established
with New Orleans Public Library, NOPL card holders in good
standing now qualify for full privileges at Jefferson Parish
Parish Library and the Friends of Jefferson Public Library
thank the individuals, libraries, organizations, and companies
who have made donations toward our post-Katrina and post-Rita
recovery. The donations we receive will allow us to not
only build back, but to build a better library system for
Jefferson Parish and the New Orleans metropolitan area.
We greatly appreciate all of the support we have received
and continue to receive; it makes the light at the end of
the tunnel that much brighter. Thank you all so very much.
for our growing list of donors.
your name, business, library, or organization to the list!
you would like to help Jefferson Parish Library in its recovery,
the Friends of Jefferson Public Library is accepting monetary
on behalf of the library and also donation of materials
for the Friends book sale, which also benefits the library.
your convenience, click here
to download and print a donation
Library Director appeared on WWL-TV Digital Gumbo for
Announcement of VIA Technologies' Donation of Computers
Lon Dickerson, Library
Metairie Library Receives Donation from
Friends of Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, Wisconsin
Parish Library Beneficiary of
Barnes & Noble Reopening Gala