deploy an assessment team into the New Orleans region. The mission of the team was to conduct an initial assessment of the Jackson Barracks Museum and formulate a recovery action plan.
A four member team was established consisting of Dennis Mroczkowski, Director of the Casemate Museum and the team leader, Lynden Couvillion (Couvi), Supervisory Curator of the Army Historical Clearinghouse at Anniston Army Depot, Jeffrey Kimball, Chief Conservator of the Army Museum System and myself, the local interpreter, headed for New Orleans on 7 October. Couvi and I linked up in Alabama and drove a van full of supplies to New Orleans, while Dennis and Jeff flew into New Orleans to begin the coordination efforts. The team was headquartered at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station in tents and once we linked up and conducted initial meetings with senior members of the Joint Emergency Operations Center (JEOC), the then team traveled to the hard hit Ninth Ward.
The entire city and surrounding areas were reeling from the effects of the hurricanes, but the Ninth Ward was reminiscent of the war torn streets of Baghdad. The entire area was void of civilians. With a military blockade of the area, only military personnel and authorized government agencies were allowed into the region. With armed roadblocks and roving patrols moving through areas of total destruction, it was hard to believe we were still in the United States.
When we arrived at Jackson Barracks, we found an area totally devastated by both hurricanes. Mr. Stanley Amerski, Curator of Jackson Barracks greeted the team and gave all the members a quick overview of the destruction. During the next three days, the team conducted thorough inspections of the museum buildings and grounds, the macro artifacts and collections. My 305th Military History Detachment was also deployed to the area and I joined the team for two days to help photograph the damage. The team also met with Alan Aiches of FEMA to initiate requests for FEMA support and brief him on the team’s findings.
Every building on site was flooded with ten to fourteen feet of water and nothing was left undamaged. To add to the misery of the devastation, a forty foot refrigerated van was dumped onto the front gate by the floods. Filled with four week old rotting meat, the area became a haven for flies. Polluted water, mold, rust and mildew were rampant throughout the collection and buildings, and with no electricity or running water, recovery would be an incredible challenge.
Despite the epic challenge confronting Stan, his attitude and dedication to saving the museum was inspiring. His spirit made it very difficult for the team to leave, but the mission was to develop a recovery plan and submit it to CMH where follow-on support could be coordinated. On the last day, Dennis briefed Brig. Gen.