Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Katrina

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Thoughts From Wes Prichard

The day began a little earlier by leaving the church at 7 am.  My crew started ripping the shingles off a house, which happened to be the third one in three days.  The reverend did not expect us to get one roof done in a week, so we are way ahead of his expectations.   We got this roof done before lunch and then we tried to replace bad boards in the roof.  The home owner Mrs. Tyler came by to pick out a color and asked me to help decide; Mrs. Tyler was so excited to pick a tile color for a new roof that she badly needed.  We were waiting on materials so the day was kind of dull. While repairing her roof, I was driving Larry Joe Brown back and forth between the construction sites to cut board sizes.  Between our trips, we saw an elderly lady putting dirt from the road into a wheel barrel.  We both looked at each other and decided to see if she needed help.  We got two shovels and walked to the elderly woman’s house.  We asked the woman if she would like help.  At first she was shocked and said she didn’t have any money.  We both replied by telling her “We aren't interested in money, we just want to help.”  Larry Joe and I moved all the dirt and sorted it in her yard to even her lawn out.  The woman was so appreciative of our help.  She kept telling me it looked good and she couldn’t do it that well.  She told us the city told her she had to move the dirt soon but it was too much work for her to accomplish.   This was definitely the most pleasing achievement of my day out in the community. 

I have never been to New Orleans but it is unsettling to come here and see the devastation after two and a half years.  As I have stood on three different roofs over the past three days, I have looked over the neighborhoods that should have houses so close together that they almost touch each other.  However, I saw so many patches of land where houses were missing.  The only houses that remain in the 9th ward of New Orleans from the storm and flood are those that were made of brick.  Trash still sits in the road that the city has not picked up and lots of business buildings are run down.  Homes still have spray paint and date around the front door from where they were checked during the days of the flood; the water mark from the flood can still be seen on nearly every building and home.  This trip has been an amazing opportunity and realization that many people still need help rebuilding their homes.  This city has not improved since the storm like the news can seem to portray and it has been an experience to help those in need.