Last day on the rebuild

Last day in front of G's house

Tomorrow we’ll head to the Gulf Restoration Network to learn more about the marshlands and fragile ecosystem around New Orleans, devastated by the Hurricane and the oil spill. After that, the group will see some of New Orleans by touring the French Quarter. Our final experience takes us at last to Our School at Blair Grocery. I can’t wait to finally see this place and learn more about this alternative school in the lower 9th.

Today, we finished our final day with the St. Bernard Project; our fourth day of mold remediation on G’s house. This step is crucial to ensure the safety of the home. On the one hand, we would have loved to have seen new walls go up, drywall go in, and paint go on, Gon the other, we helped prepare the home for G’s path home. It’s been a long haul – more than five years. Her whole family has lived in Violet for as long as they can remember.

G fled the storm, and good thing too. Her home was completely flooded to 8ft; her yard was full of furniture and debris, and when the waters subsided, her home was left with a foot of mud in it. She lost all her family photos. G couldn’t stay under those conditions, and she headed with her husband to Mississippi to stay with family. Then they moved to Dallas to stay with one of their children in a hotel, then an apartment. Then another apartment. Then a FEMA trailer. Then another family member’s home. Then to an apartment closer to home in Chalmette. A tornado caused them to move again, and G’s husband decided to use their Road Home funds to buy a trailer in Mississippi. In December 2009, her husband fell ill; two months later he was diagnosed with pneumonia and died a few weeks later leaving G alone and away from “home.” Now G lives in a trailer with her sister behind her family’s gutted home. She stops by the worksite to meet the volunteers and check the progress of her home. Finally, she will be home in a few weeks.

The mold remediation is the most tedious step, but it’s one of the most critical. After all of this time, G should be able to go home, and be able to return to a home that’s safe. We won’t be here for her welcome home party, but I’m sure most of us will be following the progress of her home through Facebook and Twitter.

So when people ask, “What did you do in New Orleans?” Our answer won’t be “painting,” “scrubbing,” or “removing mold,” it’ll be “Helping someone go home.”

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