Newsom, a native of Cheraw, was waiting to see if Hurricane Rita would squash his plans to transfer to Baylor College of Medicine. Baylor is one of the schools that accepted medical students when Hurricane Katrina destroyed any chances of finishing the fall semester at Tulane University School of Medicine this year.
Set for orientation on Sept. 24 in Houston, his plans were pushed back again, waiting for Rita. Now the tentative date is Oct. 1.
Expecting to finish up his second year of medical school at Baylor, Newsom said students are being told they will be back to Tulane by Jan. 1, 2006, but he feels that is a little too hopeful.
He should know. He has seen the devastation firsthand.
Living in New Orleans since 2000, he considered himself an old hand at waiting for hurricanes that did not come to fruition, with the exception of Ivan, the hurricane that blew through a week before a major anatomy test last year.
Coming out of study groups around 8:30 p.m. Friday night, Aug. 26, Newsom recalled someone saying there was a hurricane coming, but no one thought anything about it. Told by school officials to get out of town on Friday, students decided to hang around for a test that had been scheduled for the following week.
Phones were down. No cells worked. School Web sites were down. With the exception of a Web site set up by a former student, there was no communication. Students and finally administrators depended on that site for news of the storm's progression.
Saturday night people were having hurricane parties. When the storm jumped from a category three to a five, most students decided to flee, leaving everything they owned behind.
"I packed about four days worth of clothes and got out," Newsom said. "We still had no idea what was going on."
A week after the storm, Newsom was able to get back into New Orleans with a FEMA pass. What he saw as he traveled back into the city was like a TV disaster movie becoming the real thing. He described it as otherworldly.
For more information on this story, please read the Sept. 29, 2005 edition of the Cheraw Chronicle/Chesterfield Advertiser.