Paradise UCC mission trip to New Orleans April '09
Six other Churches supported this group of 13
Dates Apr. 17 thru Apr. 26, 2009
Questions about our annual mission trip? E-mail me at email@example.com or 800-354-1595
During the week of April 20th, 2009, our group of six did finish work on a home in the far northeastern section of New Orleans. The group was Scott, Joe, Don, Glen, Bob and Keith. The home at 7615 Forum Blvd was flooded by 3 feet of water during hurricane Katrina. The homeowners, Mr. & Mrs. Fogan, purchased the home approximately 6 months before Katrina struck. They left the house prior to the hurricane and returned after the floodwaters receded. At that point, black mold had already taken over the house.
Approximately 75% of the homes in the immediate neighborhood are either occupied or in the process of being refurbished. This area is just north of the abandoned Six Flags Amusement Park. There are very few FEMA trailers still in the neighborhood. Although, there was a cement slab as the remnant of a home several lots south and an overgrown and abandoned home across from the street.
The most challenging aspect of the project was that the home did not have electric or water. A neighbor allowed us to use their water and the UCC provided a generator. However, the generator and all UCC power tools had to be picked up each evening and delivered to us each morning.
Nevertheless, a lot was accomplished by the end of our week. Flooring was completed in 2 bedrooms, the den and most of the master bedroom. Woodwork was completed and caulked in 2 bedrooms, living room, dining room, laundry room, master bath, and much of the den. The drywall seams in the den were sanded and mudded. The entire den ceiling was painted using a textured finish and then covered with 2 coats of paint. The exterior doors were painted and sections of the kitchen and dining rooms walls were sanded, mudded and painted. Shelving was even installed in the hall closet. Along the way, there was lots of cleanup activity. This includes scraping the floors in preparation for the wood flooring and hauling out leftover building materials.
We had a fantastic crew that worked hard, worked well together and had some fun along the way. We met the homeowners and left with a satisfied feeling that they are many steps closer to moving back into their home.
Changes in New Orleans 2007 to 2009
I was last in New Orleans in July of 2007. That was approximately 2 years after hurricane Katrina struck. At that time, it seemed like the amount of work was insurmountable. I was really impressed by all that has been accomplished since then. A few observations of changes between July 2007 and April 2009:
In 2007, many lots in which the home was destroyed was used a place to pile debris. Those piles are gone and the streets are all cleared of debris. Many destroyed homes have been removed. The empty cement slab is all that remains. The weeds are being cut on empty lots by the neighbors that are back.
Traffic signals are all working. Even main roads in the Lower 9th Ward still did not have working traffic lights in 2007.
Most of the rescue search marking codes on the buildings have been sandblasted off. Each building had an “X” spray painted on the front. This noted who and when the building was search, along with the number of casualties found. This was still a gruesome reminder of the devastation in 2007. Now, very few of the “X” markings are visible.
FEMA trailers and trailer parks are gone. We did not see any parking lots full of FEMA trailers in use as in 2007. There are still homes that have a FEMA trailer in use, but the number is about 20% of what it was in '07.
Rebuilding has started in the Lower 9th Ward.
Many more businesses have opened back up.
More legitimate contractor trucks (with their name and phone numbers) are around, instead of the renegade contractors.
More people and traffic are in the neighborhoods.
Most importantly, homes and buildings that others in our group had worked on in the past are now occupied!
New Orleans has a future and it shows is in the hearts of the wonderful people.