Law Street & Common Ground Relief – Wed May 5, 2010   Leave a comment

This morning the Mira Vista crew went to another house, at 2187 Law Street on the border between Gentilly and New Orleans East. The Ohio folks continued with the roofing and I hear they almost finished. Tomorrow they’ll do the "capping" – putting shingles on the ridges of the roof where the six sections join. Tim, our new crew boss who has been working in New Orleans for three years, quickly gave us a tour through both sections of a double shotgun house, and then he went off to supervise another project. We worked from 9 am to noon. Jeanette and Sylvia put primer on some trim boards and a first coat on other boards. They were working in the sun in the front yard and it was very hot. Serban and Dan did "mudding" on the wall board in two rooms so that it would not be so apparent where the seams were. Eliot took down dry wall and another volunteer – Kelly from Syracuse, New York – was also working on that spot to rearrange a closet within the house. Eliot, Dan, and Serban moved heavy objects out of the front room of one of the houses into the back room, so that the electrical work and the flooring could be done in that front room. Nancy worked with the electric sander and Bonnie worked by hand to sand some bran new kitchen cabinets in one of the houses. And Dan took lots of pictures, as he has done every day.
We had the afternoon off. Nancy had arranged with a friend, Cassie Pierson, a lawyer from the Bay Area now working for Common Ground Relief in New Orleans, to tour a model home that Common Ground is in the process of building. On the way there we passed a neighborhood where cement foundations stick up out of the ground like headstones, and a few light poles still stand like trees in a graveyard. We went to the Common Ground Relief (CGR) office and they welcomed us to stay, sit, and eat our lunch there in the comfortable main room and on the porch. We met Thom Pepper, a contractor who had previously done work in Florida, who showed us around the model home next door that he had designed. It was beautiful, with a porch, a spacious front room, a kitchen with cherry cabinets, large bedrooms with big windows, and even a place for an elevator. The house is eight feet off the ground, and the part underneath is both for parking and for entertaining; it stays shady and cool. Thom told us that the housing code now specifies that new houses must be built at least three feet off the ground. CGR has created ‘bio cells’ at each home site, which are places where water can be recycled into the ground after a heavy rain, rather than being channeled back to the bayou. The cells are like small dry (now) ponds that contain layers of debris covered with oyster shells and are planted with native horsetail, orchids, and other plants. We were impressed with the house and with all the work that CGR is doing in New Orleans.
While we were at Common Ground a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor came by. He asked if volunteers were needed to deal with the oil leak in the gulf. Thom said that Common Ground was taking down names of people who had particular skills, such as working with birds covered with oil, and also that it would be good if British Petroleum would pay local people to work in the cleanup, rather than encouraging volunteers to come.
On our way home we stopped by a pumping station at Lake Pontchartrain so that Eliot could see the station and Jeanette and Serban could see the lake. The lake is so big you cannot see to the far side. We took pictures of a mother and father duck and their ducklings. Home to shower and rest up and then go out to dinner at a local restaurant where we filled up on gumbo and crayfish, spinach and salad and bread pudding. Tomorrow we’ll go back to the house on Law Street as there is a lot more to be done there. Other UCC volunteers are working across the street, putting in tile in a laundry room and putting up dry wall.

Posted May 5, 2010 by NOLA-er in Uncategorized

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