Teams Affected by Hurricane Katrina

The following teams are based squarely in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina:
1304 - New Orleans Center for Science and Mathematics
1534 - Marion Abramson Senior High School
1550 - O. Perry Walker Senior High School
1589 - John F. Kennedy Senior High School
364 - Gulfport High School

Based on what I’ve been able to gather from news and other sources, it seems given that these teams will not be participating in the 2006 FIRST competitions. New Orleans is expected to be uninhabitable for upward of four months, while the Mississippi coast is probably facing a similar timeline. In any case, rebuilding infrastructure, homes and businesses will be priority to piecing together the funds and manpower needed for a FIRST team.

Also on the news, I’ve heard reports that the city of Houston, in particular, is preparing to make a temporary home for many of the millions displaced by these storms. Refugees are currently being moved to the Astrodome, former home of FIRST’s Championship event. Houston’s public schools are preparing for an influx of students from the affected areas and the additional needs that are associated with that. Schools need more room, more textbooks and more teachers. Students and families may need subsidized lunches and supplies. These new burdens require money that will assuredly be taken from other, less critical programs. FIRST is, as much as we might hate to admit it, a luxury that should lose funding for these important needs – as should sports and other extracurricular activities.

Genuinely, I hate to rally support without a clear avenue of action in mind, but the breadth and immensity of these events are staggering. I believe that, perhaps, giving the kids and mentors from the teams affected the opportunity to continue in FIRST – in something familiar when all they have has been lost – may be invaluable. What can we do to provide that opportunity?

It may not be rebuilding a levee and erecting a house, but there must be something – smaller, undoubtedly – that we can do for these folks.

The pits from the Championship event in 2003 actually.

I think this is awesome that Houston is again opening their doors to a huge group of people for such a worthy cause…
Once in 2003 for us, and now in 2005 in another “neighboring” city’s time of need.
Kudos to the great people from Houston who are making this possible.

Another idea I heard on the news was to give folks in the Hurricane devastated areas temporary housing on Cruise ships in the Gulf of Mexico.
Imagine how many people that could help, and how many people just one of those cruise ships can hold.

Also, if you are going into your senior year in college this year for any type of civil, or other related engineering fields, you may want to start looking on job boards for jobs in that area.
For example, on I have seen jobs in FL, LA, and MI for civil engineering related jobs already, and I’m sure the cleanup for a storm of this magnitude will be a crash course in hands on learning for those in this field, and at least be available for another year or two.

Just something to keep in mind.

Engineers can really make a difference when people are in their time of need.

That seems pretty unfeasible, given that a cruise ship only holds 1,000-3,000 people–you’d need a whole lot of them, which means lost revenue for the companies involved.

Hopefully everyone involved can get the help they need to get their lives back in order.

I was talking to my contacts in the Coast Guard about what is happening down there and also from people at my fire house that know fire fighters that are in the effected areas they all say the problems have just started. Fires and looting are wide spread and most of the fires are unreachable because of the flooding. The Coast Guard SAR (Search and Rescue) calls have dropped from 2,200 a day once the storm started till the brunt of it was over are now at about 900 a day but many of them are once again in areas and places where getting to people is very hard.

The best way to help the people in need right now is to donate money or supplies to the American Red Cross and to also donate blood to your local blood bank as its need is at an all time high.

Whoa, I can only imagine what those teams are going through right now…
I hope the best for them.

This may be one of the only replies from someone who rode out the storm. My family and I stayed in Gulfport at our church. Never have I witnessed destruction like Hurricane Katrina caused. When we were able to return to our home on Monday evening, we were blessed to find only minor damage to it. A tree on the roof, a few missing shingles, and one smashed car (along with the standard tree limbs everywhere) are the only problems we had. We have several friends who were not able to say the same. Trees through the roof, roofs completely gone, homes completely destroyed. So far, we haven’t heard of anyone we personally know who lost their lives.

The problem right now is that there is no electricity, gasoline, or water, and very limited communications. Now, I can make it without lights, my computer, or even my cell phone, but I’ve got to have some water to wash my face with every once in a while. My wife and I decided that we would be better served bringing the kids and coming home to Arkansas to resupply. My son Brandon (bhweezer here on Chief Delphi) and I will be returning to Gulfport on Friday with supplies to last us for a week or so while we begin the cleanup and repair of our home and lives. My wife and our daughters will be staying here in Little Rock until we get things stable. We have heard that there will be no school for at least a month, and many people don’t have jobs any more.

Will Team Fusion be competing in FIRST during the 2006 season? I don’t know. The golf course we use to hold our only fundraiser was destroyed and several of our main corporate sponsors had their businesses trashed. But I can assure you that if we don’t, there will be a few of us who make it to Houston for the Lonestar Regional. Why? Because the “Team with the Psycho Fans” knows how important it is to try and get things back to normal as soon as possible. Please remember everyone along the storm’s path in your prayers tonight.

Some pictures will be posted tomorrow, if possible.

Jack, can you email me? I am the Regional Director for the Houston regional. I was trying to get in touch with David Fava to discuss your teams participation in the Houston regional. My email is Take care and stay safe.

We are thinking of you guys, up north. Good luck to you.


Obviously, this is a devastating event. The first priority for most of the people in the area is their personal safety and that of their families and friends.

Some suggestions for those who are safe and able to participate in FIRST this season…

(1) having all those FIRSTers who have had teams displaced by Katrina form one unified team to compete in FRC or VEX. Logistics might be tough, but it probably could be done.

(2) focus solely on VEX this season and see if a slot can be reserved for these teams at official VEX events. VEX is less expensive and can be developed without significant facilities, which for affected teams are probably not available.

I would imagine that, should someone be able to organize this, other FIRST teams may be able to contribute to the overall cost.

I got thinking about this whole devestation, and reading this post and Andy’s statement really hit home:

And for the life of me, I couldnt figure out how we could help right off the bat… but on my 45 minute commute this morning, I think I came up with something :slight_smile: We could sell little ribbons (Im thinking white ribbons in the shape like the breast cancer ribbons) with pins and little logos on them, and donate all the money to the red cross. We could also make buttons… I have attached a jpg of the image, and I will see if I can upload the publisher file. You can of course make your own… but I am going to try to push this idea to all of the rochester teams… so that collectively we can make a difference!

I’ll upload the ribbon logos when I have them. The idea would be to put a thin laminate over them.



Being a past hurricane survivor, the best thing we can help with is cash donations to the red cross, etc. FIRST has over 1000 active teams and if each team donated $100.00 the total combined effort would be more than 100,000. Better yet if each team was able to donate $1,000 then the total combined effort would be over a million.

I can look into setting up an account to accept donations and have the proceeds go to the red cross. Does anyone think else this is a good idea?

I hope the teams affected by the hurricane can have a FIRST season. Even if they all combined into one team, or joined other teams.

When I was a kid, my dad was a member of the local Rotary Club. As a Rotarian, he would volunteer to host exchange students from other countries. This added much to my childhood experience, as people from many cultures would stay with us for 3-4 months at a time.

We had young men from Germany, Brazil and Saudi Arabia stay with us. Once, a young lady from Australia was our guest. I recall asking her “what language do you speak in Australia?” (I was about 8)

I am wondering if we could do this for students on these FIRST teams in the Gulf Coast area? Of course, this time, there would be no “exchange”. It could be a placement program for FIRST students from teams in this area.

Could this happen? Is it needed? What are some of the legal hurdles here? If anyone wants to help investigate this, PM me and we can start working on this idea.

Andy B.

I couldnt upload publisher files (forgot they werent accepted), so if anyone wants them, just PM me. But I have attached the jpg of the circle we duplicated in a 7x8 matrix on an 8.5x11 sheet. It makes them just under an inch wide.

We will laminate them, put them on white ribbons with hotglue and put little safety pins in them so people can wear them. Im thinking we will likely sell them for $2 or any donation above that.



The biggest problem my team competing would be funding. Most of our corporate sponsors are located on or near a major body of water, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were severely damaged or destroyed from flooding. Every year Team Fusion has a golf tournament which gets us a bulk of our funding for the year. I live about two blocks from a golf course and it was nearly wiped out, with major flooding and trees down. The course we use for the tournament is closer to where the eye of the storm crossed so it probably received even more damage. I can’t see us getting the money we need to compete. I hope I’m wrong and I will try my best to get my team to a competition.

I think one of the scariest things about the hurricane is that there is NO communication along the coast. Cell phones will get service for about 5 minutes every hour, and even then you can not receive calls. I have only heard from one team member since the storm. I have another friend whose parents haven’t heard from him since Sunday.

Though I like the multi-team efforts that are being tossed around, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an elaborate undertaking to give something back to these teams.

Back in 2000 when the homes of members of Bound Brook, NJ (Team 56’s town) suffered flood damage, 237 stood outside their local supermarket with a can for a few hours on a Saturday. Not only was it an excellent teambuilding activity, but we ended up raising a couple hundred dollars - which ended up being matched by one of our mentors. It also helped build a bond between the two teams that is apparent years later.

Because of the media coverage, giving money to hurricane relief is an easy sell, and much easier to implement on a team-by-team basis.

PS - I know it’s already been mentioned, but don’t forget to give blood! Every 2 seconds someone needs blood, and with the hurricane, the already low summer levels are even lower.

I think that’s a great idea.

I thought the same thing, but with questions. Would HS students like to be “exchanged” throughout the country? Or would they prefer to stay with their families, no matter how tenuous the situation? (I’m sure it’s a different decision for each individual.)

I don’t think there would be much of a legal hurdle - after all, as you say, students have been traded to/from abroad for years, it shouldn’t be that hard to do it within the country. I don’t know if you could go through one of the existing agencies that arrange this kind of thing.

As for fundraising, there’s no need to set up separate accounts. If a FIRST team wants to collect funds, all power to them. Just forward the amount to the Red Cross or Salvation Army or UMCOR or other agencies that are already set up to do disaster relief. It will get to the people that need it faster.

Many of us know what the Astrodome is like. OK, it’s dry, has water, has electricity. But it’s far from comfortable. I wouldn’t want to think of sharing it for weeks with thousands of people. Let’s do what we can to help those moving there, and the many others who will be getting aid in other locations.

I’m posting a challenge. Whatever you had personally decided to donate, double it. Then do it again next week, and again next month. There will be a need far into the future. Just to get enough for the emergency situation, every resident of the US will have to donate the equivalent of one day’s cost for one person’s food and shelter. That doesn’t even address the relocation and rebuilding costs.

I just wanted to put light on a topic that hasn’t been discussed much that I’m still in awe of.

  • Imagine being a Freshman (or any other Year for that fact of matter) in College, your going to one of the 6 Major University’s in New Orleans

-Loyola of New Orleans
-Louisiana State University (LSU)
-University of New Orleans
-Southern University at New Orleans
-Xaiver University of New Orleans
and then BAM, your first week and the city takes on a biblical like flood. All your new stuff is gone, not ruined…gone. The schools are telling you to not go near the city at all. What do you do?

I’d hate to see our donations go to pay high six figure salaries for the EOs of the Red Cross, or to get siphoned off toward “future disasters” the way the RC did with the 9/11 donations.

Does anyone know the relative administrative costs of participating charities? Really, does anybody know?

All I know is that back in the 60s my fellow servicemen despised the Red Cross and recommended the Salvation Army because one would charge the needy for services, while the other did not. That has stuck with me since then. I want to know who gets what.

I am in favor of a focused effort to help these teams – particularly over donating to organizations like the Red Cross. I wouldn’t be surprised if their overhead was something near 20% of all donations.

For any focused effort to work, the first thing we need to learn is where the students and mentors associated with these teams are and where they plan to be in the coming months. Many people are moving to Texas, but it’s just as likely that they’ll relocate to northern Louisiana and Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and elsewhere. If we had people with closer ties to these teams, we might be able to piece together some of this information.

bhweezer, jdhawg – are you in a position to provide information to us about your teammates and mentors? We can help you to contact them to learn about their condition and later, connect them with support in the FIRST community.

Lucia – can you coordinate with teams in greater Houston, learning who might be willing to accomodate some of these displaced students? Are you familiar with teams based in New Orleans? I’m not sure where they competed last year.

There is so much we can do, but it’s difficult to get started because everything is so chaotic just now. Once things settle some and we can, potentially, get some people together to organize locally, I don’t think we’ll have any problem placing these kids and mentors in familiar, constructive environments.