March 06, 2006
Wearing buttons and carrying blue umbrellas, the Women of the Storm took on the nation's Capitol with their message about New Orleans' damage from Hurricane Katrina, as they encouraged elected officials to visit Louisiana and see the devastation firsthand. Tulane Law School faculty member Tania Tetlow was among the "stormers" and joins a group of speakers discussing the campaign at an event March 7.
In late January, Tulane Law School faculty member Tania Tetlow flew to Washington, D.C., with the Women of the Storm--more than 130 women from New Orleans--determined to convince members of Congress to visit New Orleans and view the ravages of Hurricane Katrina firsthand.
At 4 p.m. on Tuesday (March 7), Tetlow and five other members of the organization will reflect on their experiences in the halls of Congress at a panel discussion to be held in the Anna E. Many Lounge, Caroline Richardson Hall, at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. The event is sponsored by the Tulane University Women's Association and features "stormer" and former Tulane administrator Diana Pinckley as moderator.
"It was an exciting trip all around," says Tetlow, an associate professor of law and director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at Tulane Law School. "We left at 6 a.m. on the airplane that was chartered by the group, and we came back that night.
"It is an extraordinary group of women, very diverse in every sense of the word."
The women on the trip included everyone from Vietnamese nuns to Blanche Francis, whose husband, Norman Francis, is president of Xavier University. Included in the group were political activists, civic activists, professionals and people from every neighborhood in the city.
After flying into Washington, D.C., the group arrived by bus on Capitol Hill, where a press conference had been arranged.
"We all marched up with blue umbrellas that were meant to look like blue tarps and that said 'Women of the Storm.' It was quite a procession," Tetlow says.
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, among others, fielded questions at the press conference.
"We had unbelievable press coverage--there were lots of live CNN shots of the press conference," says Tetlow.
As the day progressed, the Women of the Storm divided up their forces to visit as many members of Congress--and their key staffers--as they could. Among the delegations visited by Tetlow and her partners were those of Congressmen Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Mark Foley of Florida.
Several Washington legislators have since made visits in response to the appeal by the Women of the Storm, but the push continues, according to Tetlow. "We will keep calling their schedulers and asking if they have set an appointment for a trip yet."
The organization is making it easy for congressional visitors to come to New Orleans, offering them free transportation, hotel lodging and meals during their visit, and at the same time providing them with tours of the worst-damaged neighborhoods of the city.
"Our basic pitch to Congress was first and foremost to come and visit," says Tetlow. "I doubt there is a single one of them that didn't go to New York after 9/11, but a pretty small percentage of them have come here and bothered to see the greatest natural--and man-made--disaster to hit this country in its history. And until they come and see it, they are just not going to understand."
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