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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Has it really been that long?

Oh jeeeze. So it seems as though I didn't do that great of a job at keeping up with this page. What is that saying anyway? Boring girls keep journals, interesting girls don't have time? I'd like to think that's exactly what happened. After the first day there, the week flew by. I'll try and write about everything that happened, but I'm sure I will leave things out.
So on Monday, we had the morning off and got ready to start our first work day at 2! We headed over to St. Bernard Project for orientation and to find out what our project would be. St. Bernard Project was founded in March 2006 after a couple came down to help and saw that there were so many people need. They moved back to St. Bernards parish in June and the organization has been helping people in community ever since. The build a house in 8-12 weeks depending on volunteer flow and how long it takes to get permits. In the month of March there was such an influx in volunteers that they hoped to get a large amount of houses moving along quicker than usual. When we got to orientation we found out that our group was going to be split into two different houses, which we were kind of bummed about but knew we'd be helping more people! The other group was assigned to a home that needed the electric wired. When they got there, they found that the house, which was almost completed with counters and doors, had to be torn down because it had been built with Chinese Drywall which can cause serious health problems. They ended up doing demolition for the next two days! The home that we got assigned to was just starting to have drywall installed. We worked from 2-8, but there was a group in the morning as well. We got to the house, had a quick orientation on how to do the drywall and then...were on our own. That night we really came together as a team and got two complete ceilings out (with a little bit of help from the other team since we ended up staying after 8). We left feeling pretty great and ready to go for the rest of the week!
Here is us putting up the final piece around the fireplace in the living room

The next day we got up and went for a bike ride around the neighborhood! Camp Hope is located in the lower ninth ward so it isn't the best of neighborhoods, but Chuck (the leader of Camp Hope) told us where to go and what streets to stay on. There isn't much to see other than empty lots. We found a lot with a My Size Barbie leg still on the property and another with a kitchen knife. Amongst all of the destruction is new homes. Homes that have flags out front and most importantly a million things displaying their support for the Saints. Having the Saints win the Super Bowl is one of the biggest morale boosters for this city. You can't go anywhere without seeing something about the Saints. It is such an exciting time to be around the locals. We ended our bike ride, and headed back to camp before day two of work. Our work today ended up being in a closet in the garage. The closet will be home to the washer and dryer so we had to cut around all of the outlets and water hook-ups. Emily, Jasna and I rocked it out. We got it so close on the first cut and finished up the closet by the end of the night. It was a great feeling and we were looking forward to day 3. At night we TRIED to go bowling. Something about New Orleans is that they just do whatever they want. So we called to see when they were closing and they said they would be there until at least midnight. Welp, when we arrived at 10:00-10:30 they were closed leaving us with limited options. THEN for whatever reason, they closed the bridge we needed to take to get home. So using one of the iPhones present in the Mardi V (our huge 15 passenger van) we found an alternate route that took us to the interstate. Well, of course, they had arbitrarily JUST closed down. So after taking to a rather rude police man, we ended up driving completely around a few towns and a lake to get back and got home around 1:30. Though we didn't actually do anything, we spent some quality bonding time in the van and called it a night.
On Wednesday we got up early to go on a two and a half bus tour. We got to see some Katrina damage as well as some of the most beautiful areas of the town. It was really interesting to hear about the history of New Orleans as well as facts about what happened during the storm. One thing that we found while being there is that most people want to talk to you about their storm stories. I will get to that a little later on. But anyway, the tour took us through places like the lower ninth as well as through the Garden District which is home to some of the biggest and most beautiful mansions I have ever seen. One of the interesting things we found out about Katrina was the use of markings on the homes. Each home was labeled with an X. On the top of the X was the date, on the left was initials of the person or the organization that came to check. The right was if they could access the house, common markings are NE for no entry or 2nd floor only since the water was so high. The bottom was a number. This number was the number of bodies they found in the house. Since the death toll was so high they didn't have time to remove the bodies and simply had to mark. You hope to see a zero, but occasionally see "possibly body", "1 attic", or even "dog". This was incredibly heart breaking to see and as you saw the x's from far away you hoped that as you got closer you would see a zero. Going from seeing that to seeing where the city was flourishing was inspiring, though.

On Wednesday we got to the site to see that they had taken out one of our pieces in the closet since we didn't do it with the right drywall. They had replaced part of the panel and left this horrid corner piece for us to do. Jasna and I spent about 3 hours trying to do one piece. Then once we finally got that piece in we worked on another horrid piece. So from 2-8 pm we got two pieces accomplished. That was....frustrating to say the least. But at least I really love Jasna and am glad we got to spend quality time together.
Here is Jasna and I working on the impossible closet corner piece

Okay so I know I've only gotten though half the week but I really need to participate on real life. I'll write about the rest of the week tomorrow.

Feeling inspired? I can still take donations (and need them!) until the end of the month at this website

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