Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Orleans Continued

Wednesday night we all went to St. Anna's Episcopal Church in the French Quarter. They have a community supper there followed by jazz and blues music with local musicians. St. Anna's mission is to serve the musicians of New Orleans. They have developed a very impressive service program there. They have an AIDS/HIV clinic, all sorts of social services and practical services and this special evening.

We donated our $5 for dinner and then the hat was passed to collect for the musicians. We listed to this group and then listened to David and Roselyn. I bought one of their CDs.

I hated to leave as it was really great but we were just too tired to stay up any later.

Thursday it was back to work again at 8 am at the warehouse and then back to the house where we are working. I spent Wed, Thurs, and part of Friday working on removing paint from the wrought iron on the front porch.
You can see some of the detail. By the time I finished on Friday most of the paint was all off the vertical rails and the decorative stuff all looked like this and was ready to paint. At least one side of the porch. Then paint on the upper part of the scroll work in the picture above still needs to be removed, as well as more paint on the screen door, front and back and the left side of the porch. But I left it much further along than when I arrived

Felice and Melissa taking a break from painting and touch ups.

This is Jonathan, our crew chief.
We had a big problem with the taping that was done on the dry wall. It rained and was so very humid on Monday when we started to paint, plus the fill in had not been done when we started to paint. So, after three days of painting, touch ups, repainting, it became apparent that the taping was pulling away from the wall. The intern whose specialty is dry wall and taping spent all of Friday ripping out the taping so that he can re do it. That was quite discouraging.

When we left Friday, the rooms were all painted (expect for the rework on the taping), tile was laid in a big chunk in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. What was left was laying the part pieces which all needed to be measured and cut. This meant that the sub floor was patched, and wonderboard was put down and then the mudding, etc.

Two of the bedrooms and hallway were sanded for the first time. This was hardwood flooring that was washed down and then sanded. It still needs to be sanded a couple of times before it is finished. One room had the felt put down and then almost completely had the veneer flooring put in.

The house is looking so much more like a home.

This is very satisfing, hard work. When Miss Jackie comes in to look at the end of the day she gets a really big smile on her face.

It is important to understand that we are talking about 100,000 homes that were flooded. Of that, most need to be rebuilt or rehabilitated. Some have been demolished. I have learned alot about what happened and where it happened. We have all seen pictures of the lower 9th ward where houses floated away, cars ended up on houses, etc. This was one small area of the lower ninth where a barge was not properly tied up and slammed in to the levy which caused a very big area of the levy to give way and allowed water in inundate the area. This was a big flood that happened suddenly so many of the people did not make it. Many of those homes have been demolished as they can not be rehabilitated.

This is a picture from that area:

Next door to the house we are working on is another house that has been gutted. No one is living in a FEMA trailer there and we don't know what the people are going to do. The weeds are hight in the front yard. This is a picture of the mold that freely and happily grew under the plaster and insulation.
Most of the gutted houses are completely empty. This one still has headboards from a couple of beds and several other things that speak of the homeowner. It was very errie to go into this house and see some of the owner's belongings but it speaks of what it was like.
This is a box of kitchen things that has been packed up but was just left there.
This image is of our group from All Saints: from left to right, Felice, Robin, Fr. Rob, Melissa, Joan and me.


Friday morning I had transportation duty. I took Fr Rob, Robin and Joan down to the French Quarter for a little while as they were leaving in the afternoon. We had a great couple of hours soaking up the ambiance. This picture is looking through the wrought iron gate at the courtyard inside.

And one image of one of the buildings...I have taken quite a few.

What has become so apparent, that the things you read don't discuss that this is a place where whole neighborhoods have had major destruction. Not only the homes, but the streets are filled with potholes from being under water for so long, the businesses are no longer there, grocery stores are few and far between and just a few people are moving in to many of the neighborhoods. So many people need help.

It is not just the very poor, most of whom were sent to others areas and other states but the working people and the retired people. New Orleans has one of the highest home ownership ratios in the US. Many of the homes in the older areas have been passed down in the family and are owned outright.

The couple whose house we are working on were working folks. He was a longshoreman who came down with cancer and earlier this year he was in hospice but is now doing much better and is in remission. His partner, Miss Jackie worked all of her adult life in the administration field but now stays at home to take care of her partner. They had enough to live on since the house was paid for but not enough to start over or to rebuild. These are the people we are helping. they are living in a small FEMA trailer that is about the size of 1/4 of their house. Miss Jackie has been overwhelmed with all that has happened and has become seriously depressed. They have no where else to turn to for help.

The Episcopal Disaster Response program in Louisiana takes on these homes and helps these people. They are asked to pay back the costs for the house rehab if they receive any money from one of the Road Home programs but who knows when that will happen. The program is being run by two paid staff and a host of interns and lots of volunteers. Many come through for a week of work, some come back. They will provide housing at the church for those who need it. This program needs money for tools and building supplies so if you would like to donate, please contact them directly. All of the money donated to disaster response goes directly to that program.

Last night, Melissa, Felise and I went to the French Quarter for dinner at the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro and then listened to Ellis Marsalis and his band which includes one of his sons. The jazz was absolutely divine.

We rolled on home very tired after a very busy week. This morning we went driving around the Garden District where we are staying and stopped at a cemetery and walked around for a little while. Then we headed off for a swamp tour. By the time we finished that, it was time to get them to the airport for their flight. I came back, read for a little while and then had a nap, ran out to get some chicken and then back to the room to read and do this. I have Sunday, Monday and part of Tuesday to explore before I head home.

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a good bunch of workers! It is amazing to think that after all this time how little has been done to bring back the city after Katrina. I applaud you and your group for doing so much!