On the third day in New Orleans we went down to the county: St Bernanrd Parish. It was there that we would be working with the St. Bernard Project. This project teams up with volunteers and AmeriCorps to rebuild houses devestated by Hurricane Katrina. They first started rebuilding in St. Bernard Parish, which I learnt is “the only county in U.S history to be rendered 100% uninhabitable following a natural disaster.” I’m still getting over the fact that from 2005 till now there is still so much work to be done, and houses still need to be rebuilt.
During our orientation we were split up into two groups. I was in a smaller group of 10. The bio of the homeowner, whos house we were working on, talked about the difficulties Miss. L has faced. Among them were contractor fraud and theft, two things I had never heard of. In some cases contractors would disapear with the money. In other cases they would finish the job, then rip out all the plumbing and use it for their next job. Miss. L paid three times to have plumbing redone and all three times the plumbing was stolen after it was installed. It was hard to imagine that there was no way to help or prevent her and countless others from such victimization.
After hearing orientation we were driven to the house and across the street from Miss. L’s house there is a house that was ‘marked.’ Our contract supervisor at the site explained what the marking meant and I felt relieve the number of decreased people found in that house was zero. It was hard to believe that after all these years that these markings still remained on houses. With each marking, a lingering reminder of Hurricane Katrina remains. Walking around New Orleans, some houses are so nice, and some look beat down but its hard to really imagine an area would be completely uninhabitalbe. Seeing those makings made this experience all so real.
On top of all of this we got to meet Miss. L. She stopped by still wearing her work clothes. Miss L was full of smiles and seemed both genuine and sweet. As she shared her story the room listened in deep silence and with respect. It meant so much to all of us to meet the lady’s home who we were restoring. Meeting Miss. L really personalized the work we are doing here in NOLA.
Time sure if flying by. Its busy busy here in New Orleans, but I wouldn’t change the experience for nothing. I am learing tons from talking and meeting residents just as much as I am by volunterring with the different projects. Only a few more days left and I really wish I could stay.