Friday, March 17, 2006

New Orleans: Job Accomplished

We stumbled onto a great hole in the wall restaurant in the French Quarter (Coops).

We spent the last two days back in the Ninth Ward in St. Bernard's Parish (click for photos). The north side of this district got 20 feet of water. We were on the south side working in a house that got five feet. We drove through the neighborhood that was next to the levee breach. I was wiped out - totally leveled and washed away in parts - just depris remaining. I got a picture of a house on top of a car.

The sad thing about this district is that there was a million gallon oil spill from the local refinery (Murphy Oil). Because the oil made all the homes toxic the local city can't take the garbage. But Murphy Oil won't take the garbage unless the home owner settles with them. So the homes that are gutted have all kinds of gross stuff in front of their homes for weeks and weeks. Rats and cats and dogs are feeding off the refuse. Very gross.

We worked our butts off the last two days! We are exhausted - but in a good way. Today it was 85 degrees and we put in the longest day yet. People were pretty wiped but stuck it out until the end.

When we "gut" a house we start by taking out the furniture and personal items. We didn't have to do that in the first house. Taking out this stuff was pretty emotional for some of us - just imagining the family and all of their loss. After that we strip the floor and ceiling molding, knock out the sheetrock and pull up the wood floor, lineoleum, whatever. I spent most of the morning ripping out kitchen cupboards and built-in dishwasher and stove/oven. Then I moved on to the bathroom where I beat out the tile around the tub and walls. I've got a bad elbow so Phil took over, then Tom. I think they were getting into it. Swinging a sledgehammer is pretty fun. I was jealous!

We head back tomorrow at noon. I want to take the team to Cafe du Monde for coffee and bignets. You can't leave New Orleans before doing that. We'll recap our experience and then head to Memphis for the night. One more entry tomorrow.

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