Monday, January 21, 2008, Day 2
We worked on Mrs. Lachlin's home today--our first day of work in our effort to help the people of New Orleans clean up and rebuild after Katrina, A.K.A., The Storm.
She had hired a contractor to do some rebuilding of her home four weeks before The Storm. When The Storm hit, her home was half-torn apart and the water came in from the flood as well as from the rain. Her house now sits totally gutted. Just an empty shell with studs and floors in place. She has the money to rebuild but she needs a construction loan. She can't get one though until the house is closed in so there's no chance for more water damage. Our job will be to close in all the outside open walls, repair the roof, haul away all the debris, and put plywood on the "windows" and doorways.
While we were there, a large white truck pulled up to the next door neighbor's house with a load of windows and a crew to install them. What otherwise was an empty neighborhood, suddenly looked like a construction zone with trucks, workers, lumber, the sounds of hammers pounding and saws screaming. Sort of what you would have expected 2-3 months after The Storm. Here it is two and a half years out.
It's a different pace down here. Different culture. Different government. Different attitudes. But people are the same, deep down. They all want clean, safe neighborhoods. A home to live in. They're grateful to the volunteers who keep coming to work on homes in their neighborhood. Because one day they'll come to work on theirs. And in the meantime, they offer us the use of their bathrooms and water, since most homes that are being rebuilt have neither.
You feel good helping out even though it's just one tiny speck in a huge ocean of need. But it'll make a difference for Mrs. Lachlin. And right now, that's more than what we could do for her if we were home in Minnesota. When we leave to go back to our homes, she'll be able to move forward in her life and get one step closer to moving back into her home. What more could you ask for?