Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old Arabi, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana

Operation Southern Comfort is a not-for-profit that organizes and supports 6 trips a year from Central New York to places hard-hit and still recovering from Hurricane Katrina five-and-a-half years later, particularly to St. Bernard Parish just south and east of New Orleans.

This week I have joined a group of 110 people including 80 college students from SUNY Oswego and LeMoyne College for a week of work sandwiched between 2-day drives from CNY each way.

We left home last Saturday and began working bright and early Monday morning. It is cold here this week with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s and nighttime temps in the 30s and 40s.

The group of Oswego students with whom I am working has responsibility for gutting half of a double shotgun house. The house, and every other house and business in all of St. Bernard Parish, was under several feet of water for weeks following Katrina and the breakdown of flood control in its aftermath.

Difficult circumstances have kept the owner of the house from taking on the task any sooner. It is a painful week for her as she recognizes, describes and touches, and finally lets go of, material representing a lifetime of memories.

Shown here is a room from which furniture and personal items have been removed and sheetrock has been taken down. The guys are pulling nails. In coming weeks, after we leave, the house will be steam cleaned to remove mold and dust, and sprayed for pests including termites.

Not knowing where to start or how to describe this week, I will just find a place, this place, to begin. Please bear with me, and feel free to ask questions in the Comments area.

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