I've mentioned before that I spent some time down in St. Bernard's Parish, gutting houses as a volunteer through Habitat For Humanity.
Bubs drove, and some relatives of MizBubs and myself went along for the ride.
When we got down there we joined up with other people to form "TeamBlack14", whose mission was to gut houses in the parish. Unlike the 9th ward, which suffered the full brunt of the levee breach caused by Hurricane Katrina, many houses in St. Bernard's Parish were still structurally sound, and could be safely rebuilt.
However, everything *in* the houses was ruined. Our group's task was to gut houses there, hauling out all the furniture, appliances, carpeting, drywall, you name it. If something wasn't too damaged, we would set it aside in a pile for the homeowner. The amount we could save from an entire house would usually fit into a two foot square area.
In the several houses we were able to clean out over the course of a week, we met either the homeowner, or a close relative of the homeowner. They were all very kind, and good-natured, and really appreciated people helping them out.
The group was an interesting mix. Besides us, there was a retired couple from Brooklyn, who were in the midst of a cross-country road trip across the United States, devoting a week of their trip to volunteering. There was a lawyer from Brentwood, California, accompanied by her teenage son. There was a student from Stanford University on his spring break. And there was a carpenter from my hometown, Springfield, Illinois.
It was a really powerful experience being down there, being a part of something positive, and it's something I would really like to do again.
When I got back, I was really motivated to get people at my workplace involved in volunteering, but, as it so often happens with me, my good intentions don't translate into action.
So, over a year later, I'll try.
There is still plenty of work to be done in the New Orleans area, and Habitat For Humanity is still looking for volunteers.
I am planning on going down again the week of December 17th (the work week would cover Dec. 17 - Dec. 21). I thought I would ask people that read this to consider volunteering as well. I can do my best to answer any questions you have.
I'm not sure of all the logistics at this point, but I believe if we get enough people together going down the same week, we can all work together as a group in whatever capacity we are needed.
Here are some pics from last year's effort:
TeamBlack14 (minus Bubs, who took the pic). Homeowner is second from left.
The same house, with its trash heaps we hauled out of the house
Bubs in front of another trash heap
New Orleans area Habitat For Humanity website
Construction Calendar for all the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity projects
If you'd rather not comment, but would like to discuss the project a bit more with me, tentatively discuss the possibilities of volunteering, etc., you can always email me. Thanks.
Also, it's not obvious from my initial posting, but it's not all twenty-four hour work. Every night after we put in a hard day's gutting we went into town and had alcoholic beverages and deep-fried food. Mmmmm, fried pickles...