Scarce resource: Millard McElwee, a PhD student at UC Berkeley, aims to become one of America’s relatively few Black engineering professors. Ken Andreyo
Millard McElwee was 12 years old when Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana. Having evacuated to the relative safety of Shreveport before the storm hit, McElwee at first didn’t realize the enormity of the catastrophe. But as his family drove back to their suburban New Orleans home, the carnage was unmistakable. Trees were down. Towns all along Interstate 55 were in blackouts. Even Baton Rouge appeared to have no power. “It’s still something I vividly remember,” McElwee said of the outages. “You could tell the difference, even in the cities during the day.”
While McElwee’s own home was without electricity for a month, he was still lucky: Located north of the city, his house hadn’t flooded. Many of his relatives, who lived in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward and Metairie, weren’t so fortunate. Some moved in with McElwee temporarily. At one point, his family’s two-bedroom house and office trailer hosted 13 people. They depended on canned water and National Guard–issued ready-to-eat meals, ora MREs.
“It was nasty,” McElwee said of the meals, which are used by the Department of Defense […]
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