I decided to repost some of the entries I made in 2006 about my time in New Orleans (NOLA) where I helped briefly with the rebuilding effort.
Flyin’ down NOLA
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I’ll be joining a group organized by a great non-profit called Boston Cares that will help with the ongoing rebuilding effort in New Orleans (NOLA).
We will be hosted by Hands On New Orleans, which is a member of the Hands On Network. (Boston Cares is a member also!) I am told that a lot of the work will include mold removal, long days, and 3 minute showers. All of this I can do and willingly. I hope to be able to blog about my experience there for the next few days or at least provide a report once I get back.
When the Katrina disaster took place, I experienced the covereage largely through the net and through listening to the television broadcast on my headset. I never saw the footage as it unfolded. Hearing the desperation and fear of the victims and the utter incompetence of those who should have known better gave me a different perspective on the disaster than I otherwise would have had if I watched it on television. (I moved but had not unpacked my tv and was not really missing it since I could hear all of the shows that I liked on my headset).
Wish us well. We go to do good and to effect change, which is what Boston Cares, Hands On New Orleans and the Hands On Network are all about.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Well, I made it to NOLA (New Orleans). There is a group of about 40 from Boston. We all had our share of airplane stories-the worst being the people who took American Airlines out of Boston and had their flight cancelled and then were routed to Continental and then missed their connection in La Guardia and made it finally to NOLA but without their luggage, which was still sitting on the original American Airlines flight. They were surprisingly nice about it all. Of course the Boston Cares group came together and offered clothes and stuff.
My flight was all right. I loved listening to the XM Satellite radio, which has channels for every type of music imaginable. I basically lived in the 40s-90s stations with forays into the country and alt stations. As we landed at at the NOLA airport, (a beautiful flyover by the way as is Atlanta, GA) I listened to “Ring of Fire” by the man in black (Johnny Cash) and “Physical” by Olivia Newton John. I will take the time to apologize now for those who read this and go “Arrgh! These songs are stuck in my head….”
The neighborhood we are staying is decent enough though there seems to have been a major drug ring bust prior to our coming. There is increased police security and we have been told to go out at night in threes and the places that we need to avoid.
Driving down St. Charles Avenue was interesting since you would see chain restaurants housed in buidlings that you would associate with the 19th century.
It has been more than a year since Katrina hit. You can see that downtown has made a lot of progress. I was actually pleased to see children going home from school in the afternoon, which to me is a sign of nornamlcy.
The weather is in the 70s-a welcome change from the freezing rain that I left. I did not hit any of the nightlife yet. Traveling made me tired and I felt like staying close to home. But tomorrow…
Our hosts, Hands On New Orleans, are great. They have energy and they are practical. One of the staff memebers is also named Emma (a very lovely name to be sure). After we arrived, we receeived a great orientation and safety lecture, since as you can imagine, there is mold and stuff to be concerned about as well as falling debris.
Definitely no frills here. Everyone mucks in with chores and we sleep in bunks not unlike barracks. I signed up for kitchen patrol (cleanup) on Thursday. As I stated before, I can sleep on a concrete floor with a sheet and be okay. Our group is on the top bunks. I joked that it reminded me a bit of the movie “Rooftops.”
The Boston Cares group, headed by Whitney, is a great group. Clearly we are all people who want to make a difference no matter how anonymous it is. Many of us don’t know each other but we came together rather well. I had a great time playing (and winning at) UNO with Ethan and Pam. I also got a kick out of our reaction to the recent elections, including the Democractic wins.
And though I felt a bit silly, Whitney’s idea about us all wearing the yellow Boston Cares shirts was a good one.
Tomorrow I will be a part of a “last gut” team. This team completes the gutting of a house with things like nail removal.
I’ll blog more later.