A new place   Leave a comment

Hi friends!  This is Susan writing a few words Friday morning before they come and take us away. I’m trying to be funny in my morning daze, but actually, the coordinators will come in and tell us where to go.  Seriously now, they will give us our assignment for the day, and we will be taking off.
I am so grateful for this extraordinary week.  We have learned so much, fallen in love with this city and her people, and had an absolutely fabulous time.  I have collected a whole series of bruises from hugging ladders too hard, but emotionally and spiritually I am A-OK, just a little more tired every day.  And that’s not from working too hard, but from staying up talking.  Last night we were writing thank-you notes, and everything started striking us as very funny.  Felt good to do a lot of laughing after some of what we have seen.
Garrett just came in and told us we’re going to be gutting a house today, sledgehammers, haz mat suits, goggles, the whole nine yards.  More later, gotta go.  Love, Susan
This is Amy reporting tonight again.  All are asleep, it’s 1:21 am our time here in LA and we have to get up at 7 again tomorrow in order to be up and out by 8:30.  Maybe…  We don’t know what the assignment for tomorrow will be, but that’s okay.  We’re a flexible bunch.
We had spent the last three days working on Miz Otha’s house and today we went to a new house on Antoinette St. near Elysian Fields Street. The x street is near N. Miro, maybe.  The house belongs to the grandmother of a woman named Jenice who is a member of the Beecher St. UCC. Before I tell you about the house we worked on today, let me tell you a story about Jenise.  Jenise is a wonderful woman who owns another house that the UCC Disaster Recovery program is working on. After Katrina and the winds hit, she had to sneak back into New Orleans (because they weren’t allowing residents back into their homes) to check on her house.  We had dinner with her last night in the French Quarter (more on that later), and she said, "I opened the door of my house, looked around, closed the door and had to go away and pray for two months."  And after the two months, she came back and started working on recovering her house, about four hours at a time, on weekends.  UCC work crews are working there, too.  She should be back in her house in just a few weeks’ time.
The pictures of the gutted house on today’s blog (May 17th) are those of her grandmother’s house.  As you can see, there’s nothing much there, but after the work we’ve seen and the houses we’ve been around, it actually looks pretty dang good to us. The roof was replaced, the floors are in good shape, and the windows are all intact.  Our job was to scrap as much of the (lead) paint off the walls we could, and tidy up the house for inspectors to come.  Inspectors are very important in the recovery process, apparently.  It was vital that we get the house cleaned up so that when they come in the next day or two (maybe) to see the kinds of progress that’s being made on houses, they need to see the rubble gone, the paint chips gone, and everything neat and tidy.  Can you see that massive tub in the middle of one of the rooms?  That is a cast iron tub that weighs a TON.  I had to move it to get a ladder close to one of the walls and it was all I could do to move it 6 inches. 
This was another gorgeous day in New Orleans.  The weather never got oppressive, and today it actually didn’t rain at all.  we’ve had thunderstorms every day since we’ve gotten here, but they’ve not been intrusive at all.  In fact, the rain felt great.  There was a great breeze coming into the house and we got an incredible amount done. 
We took our lunch break at a local church, Beecher UCC, where Jenice and her family worship.  I took pictures of their temporary sanctuary and the original sanctuary.
We knocked off work around 4, drove back to Little Farms and spent the evening in a luxury of talking, telling stories, writing thank-you letters, calling loved ones, and being together.  we took a walk on the levee in River Ridge, and Sylvia and Susan actually were able to stick their hands in the Mississippi.  They got tetanus shots right away but they did it!    Kathryn told us wild stories from her past, and I found a beautiful piece of driftwood.  Makenda was able to once again solve all key mysteries, and all of us are just grateful to be here, now, together, doing what we are doing.  What an amazing experience this is!
Tomorrow is just around the corner, so I’d better go to sleep so I can hold up my end of the ladder!  Good night and thanks for reading!

Posted May 17, 2007 by NOLA-er in Katrina Recovery

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