Wednesday Work and Tour   Leave a comment

Mid-week – a day of work and a tour. First, though, early in the morning, we said good-bye to Lisa, who needed to return home to family. We sang "When the spirit says move, we move with the spirit, move when the spirit says move" and gave her a group hug. Already she has made a Lisa-sized space in our hearts, and we are hoping we will see her again, back home in the Bay Area.
 
Today we continued the work we started yesterday at our houses. Dan fixed the tile saw, which was only operating intermittently at low rpm and you needed to initiate the spinning by hand. He unscrewed the case, inspected the carbon brushes (one of them was worn and burned out), and swapped their positions. Then he pulled out the graphite bar, which was on a spring, so the brushes would press more firmly on the rotor. He put the case back on and tried it again and voila, the tile saw started up by itself. Recommends replacement of the carbon brushes within one month. Michael worked on the trim – sanding, painting.  Nancy continued putting grout on all the cracks and joints by doorways and windows and closets in every room. Bonnie painted doors with semi-gloss and started on the window trim. Barbara is getting really good at installing and painting closet doors.
 
After lunch we went on a tour with Sarah McAllister of the UCC National Disaster Ministries. She had come to New Orleans in 2007 for a seven-week restoration project and fell in love with the city, returning to work here. She says that people here know how to enjoy life – with music, good food, and festivals that last for weeks. There’s the Jazz Festival, and Mardigras, and the French Quarter Festival, the Crawfish Festival. And people go all out to decorate for Halloween.
 
Sarah took us to the 17th Street Canal, where we could easily see where the levee broke and where the new section was put in. Then to the Lower Ninth Ward where the Brad Pitt houses are being built (see link ) and Common Ground and its garden. Then we visited Beecher Memorial UCC, which is going through a rebuilding process. In the sanctuary, the stained glass windows and the roof remain, and you can see through the studs into the other rooms. We stopped by the house that we painted last year and were sorry to discover that the family is not back in their house after all. The subfloor is in, and tiles in the kitchen, and the walls are painted. But the floor still needs to be done.
 
Tonight Barbara made pasta and vegies and shrimp, green salad, and watermelon. We ate, and talked, and talked, and talked. And late in the evening, Kathryn joined us, arriving from Sacramento via San Diego and Phoenix.

To catch up a bit – last night we also had a fun gathering at the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church on Crowder Boulevard, put on by Church World Service (CWS). Volunteers and home owners both attended. Amy knew how to spell one of the hardest to spell steet names in New Orleans (Tchoupitoulas St.) and was rewarded with first place in line for dinner for her whole table! Wonderful dinner of red beans and rice, jambalaya, salad, and bread pudding with caramel sauce.

We met and talked with Bonnie Vollmering, Associate Director of the Emergency Response Program. She told us that CWS, prior to Katrina, had worked together on recovery from smaller storms, tornados, and so on. But that after Katrina, different demoninations had funds coming directly to them, and so they worked independently. Now CWS is taking up the coordination and effort to get eleven different churches working together on a project again. The houses we are working on were prepared ahead of time to the point where volunteers could come in and be useful. CWS has already lined up committments from contractors and agencies who will finish the work on these 12 or 13 houses after the volunteers leave. 

Bonnie Hariton

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Posted May 6, 2009 by NOLA-er in Uncategorized

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