New Orleans day 1, my eyes are opened

Monday. I woke up at 5:30am after sleeping quite well. We headed over to St. Raymond’s School (map), the central location from which Catholic Charities sends out its work crews. Since we had 32 people, we split into groups of 15 & 17. Neil was the site supervisor for my group. He’s the guy that takes us to the work site, gives instructions, provides tools, water & ice, etc. Before heading to our first work site, they gave us a brief orientation. One of the main points that they made clear was that we shouldn’t judge anyone. That was tough, because I must admit that I already had. I had wondered why the folks in New Orleans couldn’t do for themselves what we were doing. But the bottom line is that there are many reasons why, and as Christians it’s not up to us to judge. We were there to help those who needed help. Period.

Another big point they stressed was that we need to be patient with their schedule. It was sometimes unpredictable. They were coordinating many volunteer groups, all of whom work at different paces and finish jobs at different times.

the first houseWe headed over to our first house (map) around 10:00. Neil confirmed a few things and we went to work. This was a two-story house that needed to be completely gutted. We quickly had to get used to cockroaches, and just plain filth. The furniture had already been taken out, but we had to remove the flooring, walls and ceilings. The upstairs had a lot of garbage that needed to be cleaned out. This house had been under 4 feet of water.

the pileWe didn’t finish the house today, though we sure did make a heck of a trash pile out on the curb. To get a good perspective of the trash pile, click on this photo on the right and notice how far down the block it goes.

This evening, I had to do some work online for my SEZ Channel content, so Pat Hopkins and I went to Kinkos about 9 miles away (map). A volunteer from another group named Mimi also needed to use the internet, so she came with us. Mimi was very nice, and she told us about this IMAX movie that she had seen about the hurricane. We’re going to try to see that this week some time.

Karen and TimI can’t resist publishing this photo of Karen and Tim. I took this back in the gym during our evening activities. They are each holding something interesting, but I had to cut off a portion of the photo to protect the innocent If you were there, enjoy. If not, ask Karen or Tim.

Overall it was a good first day. As a web site developer, I sit on my butt all day, so my body’s in a bit of shock after actually doing some physical work. But I’ll be fine. At home, I’m usually up until at least midnight every night, working/playing on the internet. But I didn’t bring a computer with me to New Orleans, no e-mail this week. It’s 9:30 now, so I’m going to bed.