After a little confusion with the time change, a few very unhappy TSA workers, and two plane rides, the Gulf Coast team finally arrived in Mississippi last night. After we unloaded our luggage at LESM Mission on the Bay, we jumped right back into our vans and drove straight to New Orleans.
I had never been to New Orleans before, so I had no idea what to expect. It was quite an experience to walk down Bourbon Street and push my way through the raging crowd, at roughly 5 PM on a Sunday evening. In contrast, Jackson Square was quite a different scene. It was quaint, old-fashioned, and more of what I had expected. It was also very interesting to see how little damage there was in the French Quarter. It was hard to believe the area had ever been flooded, which was NOT the case with the area where we would be working.
After a scenic stroll through the city, the team had dinner at Acme Oyster House, a typical New Orleans restaurant. My team members were a little more adventurous than I was with their orders. They ate crayfish, oysters, jambalaya, and even a deep fried crab! I don’t eat fish, so it took me a little longer to find something on the menu I would like. After dinner we waited in quite a long line for some delicious bagnettes and headed back to our camp site. Bagnettes are a french pastry, kind of like zeppoles but slightly larger. Aside from the mess of powdered sugar we made in the vans on our ride back to LESM, it was a great night. The group got to bed early so we would be well rested for our activities the next day.
I woke up bright and early this morning, ready to work, at 6:20 AM. After breakfast, we drove out to the house we would be working on for the week. At this point, the house is about ninety percent complete, so we mainly had odd jobs to perform. One of my favorite jobs was cutting and placing the trim for the walls because I got to use power tools to get the job done. I was one of the two people who’d used a band saw before, so I cut most of the trim and taught Dave and Kevin how to use the saw as well. It was a hard day’s work, but there’s still much more to be done.
Our construction supervisor, Rey, informed us that almost all of the funding is gone for Katrina relief. Therefore, it is up to the homeowner to provide funding for rebuilding. If the homeowner does not have sufficient funds to purchase the materials needed to keep working, everything stops. This was very frustrating to hear, but at least we are doing something to help out.
On a happier note, our group is awesome and has been getting along wonderfully! We soaked up some sun at the beach today and are planning a bonfire (with smores!) for later in the week. So far this trip has been a ton of fun as well as a real eye-opening experience. I’m looking forward to finishing more work tomorrow and getting the Clark family out of the FEMA trailer they’ve been living in for the past five years. After today, they are one more step closer to moving into their home!