New Orleans day 2, the 9th ward

cockroachesTuesday. We continued with the house on Elder St today. This house had those plaster walls on top of wood slats. I was on the stairway going upstairs, and as I pulled off some wood slats, underneath was a large nest of cockroaches. These are the biggest cockroaches I’ve ever seen! It didn’t take long to just get used to them being there and to just continue working. We worked hard this morning and we finished the house around 2:00.

Here are a couple videos to give you a sense of what we did:

Erin pounding the floorErin was physically the smallest person on our crew, but that didn’t stop her from picking up a sledge hammer and getting some work done. This video also shows Dave Brooks and Tim Grocholski looking over some blueprints that were found in the house. There were so many tasks to be completed, and as you can see, everyone was pitching in (unless someone was taking pictures or something).

the houseThis next video gives you a pretty good idea of what we did in this house. You can see that there are two bedrooms upstairs, and since there was no storm damage on the upper level, we didn’t have to rip out all the walls. You an also get an appreciation for how large the pile of garbage is out at the street. (Note that toward the end of the video, I mention today’s date, mistakenly saying “2006”. Obviously it’s “2007”.)

our crew in front of the houseKnights of Columbus on the crewThis photo on the left is our entire crew of 17 in front of the house after we finished. A doctor and a couple of nurses from the health clinic next door were kind enough to take this shot. They were quite patient because they had to take this same photo with a dozen cameras. The photo on the right is of the five of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus Abbot Pennings Council #3955. Pictured are Joe Maar, Jim Schaefer, Scott Crevier, Rick Crabb and John Mueller. Not pictured is Mike VanderBloomen who is working on the other crew.

me on top of the junk pile

Yeah, that’s me on top of the trash pile. A few of us posed for pictures like this. I guess it was a cool sense of accomplishment.

more volunteersInteresting side note: There was a van of college girls driving by that saw us working and stopped. It turns out that they were in town to clean up parks and fix baseball diamonds.

Also, next door to this house was the Church of the Nazarene (map). It had closed to due the flood but was now reopened as a health center, and they had their own team of volunteers. This group was made up of doctors and nurses from Philadelphia who had taken 2 weeks from their schedule to come to New Orleans and provide free health checks. So it was quite nice to see other volunteers in the area helping to bring New Orleans back to life.

the 9th ward

We had a couple extra hours this afternoon, so we took a drive through the lower 9th ward, which got hit quite hard by the flood due to failed levies. This was eerie. We drove by block after block of this neighborhood with no houses. Every street had all its driveways, but they led to nothing. The force of the water coming from the failed levies was just too much, and it completely took these houses away. This is one of those areas where you’re just not sure what will happen. I doubt that it will be rebuilt by the original homeowners, but who knows?

the parking meterThis evening, I went to dinner at the French Quarter with Pat Hopkins, Dennis VandenHeuvel and Jim Schaefer. It took a while to find a parking spot, but we finally found one. Then when I put a quarter in the parking meter, no time registered on it, the darn thing was broken. We didn’t want to move the car, so the only thing I could think of was to still put the proper number of quarters in, but to get a video recording of us feeding the meter so we’d have proof that we paid in case we need it. As we finished, we turned to walk down the sidewalk, and sure enough, there was a meter maid right there only two cars away. We pled our case with her and she said it would be okay since the meter wasn’t working. Crap, she didn’t even ask for proof. I offered to show her the video but she said she didn’t need it. Crap.

The Oceana RestaurantAs we walked the streets, we came upon a man named “Mr. Banks” who was outside drumming up business for the Oceana restaurant. He had menus in hand and gave us his personal guarantee that we’d like it. We had already thought of stopping there so we went in. The food there was awesome! Turns out that Dennis and I both love Chicken Alfredo so that’s what we ordered. I’ve had Chicken Alfredo at many restaurants, and until today, my favorite was Olive Garden. But this was spectacular! This is absolutely hands down the best Chicken Alfredo anywhere! Pat also seemed to like his smoked duck.

After dinner, we went to a few gift shops. The guys were quite patient while I shopped for t-shirts for my wife and three daughters back home (they did a bit of shopping too). We were at Crawdaddy & Co. on Bourbon Street, and I asked the woman in the store if she could help me find 4 different t-shirts. I didn’t just want to get one t-shirt of 4 different colors. She asked me if I wanted regular t-shirts or fitted. Hmmm. What’s fitted? She was a big help. We continued to walk around the French Quarter and down by the Mississippi River. I took a few photos, this one’s pretty cool:


We headed back to camp and I hit the sack early (for me anyway).