Remembering Katrina: Former cheerleader finds unity in shared tragedy

Tulane+alumni+Lindsey+Hoyt+tells+her+Katrina+story+and+how+it+affected+her+senior+year+at+Tulane.%C2%A0

Tulane alumni Lindsey Hoyt tells her Katrina story and how it affected her senior year at Tulane. 

Kate Jamison, Online News Editor

A few days before starting her senior year at Tulane, Lindsey Hoyt, a Tulane cheerleader, received a phone call from her dad asking her what she was going to do about the coming hurricane. Hoyt and a few of her friends loaded into a car and drove to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“There were probably 40 of us at this house in Lake Charles,” Hoyt said.  “I slept under the pool table, and we thought we were gonna be there for three or four days at max, and at that point, over the four years I was here, we had evacuated for hurricanes 5 times. At this point it was just ‘hurrication.'”

But while the students were waiting out the storm in Lake Charles, they watched footage of the storm on the news. Hoyt remembers watching the roof of the Superdome coming off and thinking that this hurricane was not like the ones before. Eventually the students sought alternative evacuation homes and Hoyt drove to her family’s house in Austin, Texas.

Hoyt was supposed to graduate from Tulane in December 2005. She enrolled in art history courses at the University of Texas at Austin. At the end of fall semester, she was one credit shy of graduating.

A few weeks after the storm hit, Hoyt returned to New Orleans to check on the damage to her off-campus apartment. When she arrived, she learned that the storm surge tore the roof off of her home, leaving her belongings completely exposed to the weather.

“I get into the house, everything is destroyed,” Hoyt said. “There is mold up all the walls, almost everything I owned was completely eaten by mold and the roof coming off and it raining inside the house for two months”

She returned to her New Orleans apartment on her way to Baton Rouge for Tulane’s homecoming football game at LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

“We were in [Tiger Stadium], and I remember a strip of Tulane people there, and I don’t even remember who we played, or if we won or lost,” Hoyt said. “For me it was not at all about that, it was just about being with the cheerleaders. I remember the crowd, even though it was small, being pretty engaged and excited to be there, no matter what happened on the field. Everyone just felt very proud to be there at all, and grateful for LSU for using their stadium, even though we’re such bitter football rivals. I remember the thrill of all being there together, not just the cheerleaders but the people in the audience and even though we didn’t know each other it was a moment. It was just an important moment for us.”

A few months after their reunion at Tiger Stadium, the cheerleaders and the rest of the Tulane students returned to New Orleans in January 2006 for spring semester.

“After such a hard semester away, we were all so happy to be back,” Hoyt said. “And everyone was so relieved to be there and it was so different, almost like we had the city to ourselves in a really sad way, but there were so few people around. It was really a college town for a while, and a search and rescue town, and a National Guard town and of course there were other people coming back at that point, but in our college world, it kind of felt like we were the only people in the city. I think it was just gratitude, we were so grateful to be back together, to be back here and be back in this place that we loved and to be part of trying to pull it back together in a very small way. It was pretty incredible.”

Hoyt graduated from Tulane in May of 2006. She now serves as an admissions counselor at the university. 

Leave a comment