After Katrina: Aliens, Scientologists Land in Baton Rouge

You can tell who’s running from New Orleans by the tattoos

Outside the River Center, it is nearly dusk, and a few fat raindrops start to mitigate the heat. Nearly 50 people are still standing or sitting limply outside FEMA's makeshift office, in a commercial building next to the convention center, waiting to register for help. According to many who have gone through the process, the easiest way to register with FEMA for your $2,000 is also the least accessible: online. Getting through on the phone is a crapshoot that may take days of repeated calls. Applying in person takes hours.

Kevin Bastian, 45, is a professor of psychology at Dillard University. He has been waiting here to talk to a FEMA representative since noon, with his wife, his two sons, aged four and eight, and his mother-in-law. They are staying in tiny Greensburg with his wife's grandparents and drove an hour and a half to get to this center after they saw it on the TV news. There is no closer place for them to apply for help. "We've called FEMA to no avail," he says. "Three in the morning to 3 at night. Same thing with the Red Cross." After waiting for six hours today, they are going to have to come back tomorrow and do it all over again. " It's been a total waste of time so far. It's ridiculous that the number one relief agency in the country can't have a better program than this. If I didn't have a car, how could I get here?" Among other worries, Dr. Bastian is waiting anxiously to see whether Dillard, which is closed for the semester, will continue to pay its faculty.

Dr. Bastian's house in New Orleans East is completely flooded. He was born and raised in the city, got his undergraduate degree at Xavier University and his doctorate at UNO. He has known his wife since the second grade. "My wife always makes fun of me because she says everything in my world is just 10 to 20 minutes apart," he says: house, family home, school, work. When asked if he will return to the city, he immediately says, "I'm going home. We're going to rebuild. It will come back." Even those who now say they will never come back, he says, will return in three years or so. "All this will just be a memory."

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