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New Orleans: Post-Katrina Clean-Up

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pretty incredible picture, isn't it? It doesn't all look like this, but there's still lot's of buildings, homes, one-story motels, and storefront businesses that stand empty. Normal looking walls have huge holes bashed into them, revealing moldy walls and broken timbers hidden inside. Dirty curtains flap in the wind. We passed a junkyard with piles--literally--of cars on top of each other. Rusting. Flooded out. Good for little.

It's different from Minnesota. Lot's of dilapidated little shacks on the water channels that follow the highways. Rusty boats. Guys fishing. Cyprus trees everywhere. And lot's of water. You have to travel on a bridge almost anywhere you go since so much is bog and wetlands.

Monday we go to it. All 27 of us. Rebuilding... one home at a time. It's a long process. They're right when they say it'll take close to a decade to rebuild the city. It seems like an impossible task. I wondered why they let the water stand for so long. Like over a month. Then I'm told that there was no electricity to pump the flood-water out. Oh. And--of course, first the levies had to be repaired before pumping could start. Oh yeah.

We didn't bring much with us, but I think it's enough: Positive attitudes. Can-do spirit. Hope. Heart. Jesus.

We drove straight through the night to get here. Left about 4 p.m. Trading drivers every 3-5 hours. Eating on the go. We made it in just 22 hours. The rest of today is just getting settled, trading stories of the drive down, resting and making plans for our first real meal tonight in 24 hours.

Tomorrow we head out to attend a worship service at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, a church that the group visited the last time they were down here, and which has been instrumental in the rebuilding process. Like most churches down here. They're planning to fix a church dinner for us. Lots of people want to express their thanks to the 1,000,000 volunteers who have come down to help since August, 2005. After dinner we'll spend the afternoon driving around the neighborhoods that have been impacted the most and touring the area where we'll be working in this coming week.

Monday we'll get to meet the people. The best part.


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