Facing monumental disaster: Hurricane damage in New Orleans

Oct 01, 2005

When we sent our September issue to the printer, The Cat Practice in New Orleans looked just as it did in the photos. But by the time you likely read about our Hospital Design Competition Merit Award winner, the flood waters had risen and Dr. W. Mark Cousins, Dipl. ABVP, and his team were facing yet another disaster.

The timing of the feature was ironic. Another irony: The day the levee broke—Aug. 30—was the anniversary of the fire The Cat Practice suffered in August 2002. "These mega-tragedies are getting old with me," says Dr. Cousins by e-mail.

Of course, we were relieved to hear that he and his family are well and staying in Gulf Shores, Ala. And The Cat Practice and his other practice, Chateau Veterinary Hospital, seem to be intact. Still, there's bad news. Dr. Cousins thinks he lost his house. He shares the world's general uncertainty about when authorities will open the city. And he's concerned that he may have no client base.

"When the fire occurred, at least I knew where I could contact my insurance agent, my banker, my contractor, my attorney, and so on," he says. "Now there's nothing."

We also followed up with Dr. Siegfried Mayer, one of the owners of Metairie Small Animal Hospital, the 2004 Veterinary Economics Hospital of the Year. His team was forced to evacuate 176 pets to Louisiana State University. "The area is devastated in parts," says Dr. Mayer by e-mail. "But the goodwill and attitude of the remaining community are strong."

They plan to re-open the hospital as soon as possible. "Please put the word out that we need prayers and any possible support," he says. And I'm sure all the practices that operate in the New Orleans area would say the same thing.

Marnette Denell Falley
I know you join us in our concern about the veterinarians and their teams who've faced such incredible obstacles during the disaster Hurricane Katrina wrought. The stories we've heard about the efforts they've made to serve clients and pets are heroic—and I'm sure there'll be more to come.

Marnette Denell Falley, Editor