The gathering of about 70 at the first official meeting of the New Orleans Geological Society in early February was like a Band of Brothers meeting back at the camp after a battle.
They were glad to greet each other, but there was little “up front” talk of their experiences -- that’s because there is always someone you may be talking to who had more horrific experiences than you did. And everyone already knew the dreadful facts anyway.
But eventually the conversations at NOGS turned to the experiences of flooding, losses, displacement, clean up, finding craftsmen for repairs -- and insurance ordeals.
With many of their personal lives in disarray and their professional lives still demanding, NOGS President Bret Hampton announced to the group that the NOGS board had deferred hosting of the scheduled 2008 AAPG Annual Convention in New Orleans until a later year.
Five months after Katrina, the city still faces a daunting recovery with many basic services, such as electricity, hospitals, postal service, local transportation and air service remaining non-existent or curtailed.
“I am acutely aware that the postponement appears to be at odds with the rebuilding of NOGS or New Orleans, but we must maintain a long-term perspective on the rebuilding,” Hampton said. “Hosting an inferior convention is not in the long-term best interest of NOGS or New Orleans.
“I can only hope that the pain of deferring the convention will motivate NOGS to host a phenomenal convention at a later date.”
Hampton also turned the gavel over to Scott Wainwright, since Hampton has been transferred permanently to Houston by his employer, Shell. (Shell accelerated a planned move of the deepwater Gulf group to Houston.)
A number of NOGS members were still displaced in early February, with temporary offices in Houston, Baton Rouge, Covington and Lafayette. A pre-Katrina NOGS meeting drew about 100.
Meanwhile, the city was cheered by the return of about 400 Shell employees moving back to their New Orleans’ offices in early February, with a homecoming of a like number again expected in early March. ChevronTexaco also is repopulating its Crescent City offices. Dominion is also coming back despite devastating damages to their offices.
NOGS has adopted the New Orleans’ mantra of “Rebuild, Rebuild, Rebuild.” With office manager Annette Hudson as the center of gravity for the group, NOGS has held numerous meetings via conference calls, redone its Web site, held a holiday social to reconnect, published a newsletter, and held a “kickoff party” to celebrate the Mardi Gras season. A golf tournament is planned and programs are set for future meetings.
NOGS has taken its lumps but is still standing -- and, as Wainwright said, is looking positively to the future.
Some of that future is bright.
And, as every NOGS member is aware, the future also includes the next hurricane season -- which begins in 90 days.