Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Orleans

I can understand how and why people fall in love with New Orleans. It has got to be the friendliest place I have every been. If you need to get over on the freeway because you didn't know your exit was coming up and turn on your turning signal, somebody lets you in...never seen in California where the driver will rush right up to close the gap so you can't get in.

People say hi to each other.

People want to know why you are here and when you tell them you are here to work on houses, they express a great thankfulness.

This is a city that is broken, that is struggling to get back, that is depressed in most areas while in others everything appears normal.

People are missing from the neighborhoods because they have been sent elsewhere and they have nothing to come back to.

This is still a common sign on many houses.

FEMA trailers sit on lots with their houses which may or may not be under repair. New colors are springing up.
At the house where I have been working for the past three days we take potty breaks at the local But we usually buy something like a coke. This is the mural on the side of the building. Our Popeye's in California seems kind of drab.

This is a common sight on buildings that used to be small, neighborhood businesses.

This market is on our way to the job site and we get a big kick out of it each time we drive by...we still wonder how many spiders it takes to satisfy some one's hunger.
And, since I gave you an unreal look at my rector, Fr. Rob, I have decided to make it up to him buy showing you how hard he really works.
In the neighborhood where we are working there are homes like this that have been gutted but nothing further has happened. It's sad and I sit on the porch at the house we are working on and try to envision the neighborhood before Katrina, where people sat on the front step, the kids played in the streets, the neighbors knew each other and all the adults knew all of the children.
Not far away are a group of housing projects. These are going to be torn down. They are still trying to decide what they are going to do to replace them but two years later this is what they look like...

It doesn't look like it was a real cheerful place before Katrina and of course now looks really bad.I came across this building along with several others but I don't know what they were before Katrina. The blue tarps hanging down seem so forlorn.

On Monday there were 20 of us working in one house...too many people in one place. We painted and did some priming and then spent another day touching up. Then filling in gouges, and more touchups. I have spent a lot of time painting, and then yesterday I was filling in holes etc.

Today I spent the entire day working with an electric drill with a wire brush attachment working on the scroll work paint of the wrought iron work on the front porch. Other people were scrapping off the paint on the rails, all so it can be repainted.

We have spent two nights at a great barbeque restaraunt but tonight we headed in to the French Quarter and went to St. Anna's Episcopal church for a service and then community dinner and music. St. Anna's mission is to the musicians. There was a man with a wonderful voice singing acapello during the service and then we made a $5 contribution for dinner and then put money in the hat for the musicians where played during the evening. Great music...from jazz to blues and just awesome stuff! I could have stayed there longer but we had to go because we have to be at the warehouse tomorrow at 8am for our job assignments.

This is a trip that I am really enjoying. The woman of the house where we have been working cooked us a spaghetti lunch yesterday which was so much better than our little sandwiches with two small pieces of ham and one piece of American cheese. We appreciated it very much! It was a wonderful way for her to say thank you to us. But many of us have expressed our gratitude that we were able to come down to do this. There are so many emotions going through my head...a lot to be sorted out. But not tonight.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, Liz. Our former church, in Santa Rosa, went down last spring to work on homes for a week. I think it is a tremendous outreach.

I think it is unconscionable that there is still so much devastation in parts of NO.

I am in balmy SF. We arrived today to 80+ temperatures.

Natalya Khorover Aikens said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing! and thank you for telling us about it.

PaMdora said...

Hi Liz, it's nice to hear what is really going down there from real people rather than the media. And really wonderful what you're doing to help!

Rayna said...

A powerful reminder of what still remains to be done. How satisfying it must be to participate in doing so much good.