Tuesday, January 02, 2007
days one and two in nola
Crow bars, pry bars, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), more dust and mold than you can shake a fist at (and you know lots of fists have been shaken down here during the past 16 months since Katrina hit) hard hats, face masks, piles of debris, ruined family photos, cockroaches, heavy hearts and sore muscles. Kind of sums up my first two days on the job with Nechama.
The first day my team and I worked on a house in the neighborhood of Arabi. We finished the job of taking it down to the studs. We removed a million nails, sheet rock, molding, floor tile, etc. At the end of the day we power washed the inside of the house, making our work truly sparkle. We applied three different coats of stuff, the last being Clorox, to prevent more mold from growing. It was when I was shooting the water on the beams, though, that it struck me how odd it was that the powerful force of water was again making a connection with this house, this time in a more healing fashion, of course. But I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like when the water rushed in on that horrible day in August, 2005.
The idea is that the family who lived in the house will come back and start over. The houses we are gutting are owned by people who put their names on a list with an organization called Operation Blessing, and that list is being shared with groups like ours who come down to help.
Today we worked in the lower 9th Ward. The destruction down there goes on and on and on. Some people have come back, but honestly we did not see too many of them. During our lunch break, I wandered into the house next door to the one we were gutting. Nat and Clara, the homeowners, were there gathering belongings from their second floor to take back to their FEMA trailer, which is parked, in Clara’s sister’s front yard. The water had gotten as high as the ceiling on the first floor, so most things upstairs were salvageable. Well, except for the part of the house that the tree fell on.
The past two nights I have had dinner with Sam and Abbie. It’s been wonderful seeing them. Last night they gave me a bunch of Advil, a heating pad and a pile of soft blankets, and I slept quite happily on their couch.
Here are some photos I have made the past couple of days.