I know that most of you who read this either live here in New Orleans or are here volunteering with Hands on New Orleans, but those of you that aren't need to hear what is going on down here.
I missed my flight on Friday because I went to the wrong airport. For your future information, DCA is Reagan National Airport just outside DC, and IAD is Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. Good to know. I waited on standby for a flight to Dallas, didn't get on the plane, and rebooked for the same flight I was supposed to be on Friday for Saturday. I got to the church where we're staying Saturday afternoon, got Sunday off to wander around the French Quarter and enjoy beignets at Cafe du Monde. I started work Monday, yesterday.
I thought I was prepared for gutting out houses, but it turns out it's a lot harder than running a marathon. At least when you run a marathon you're done in 4 or 5 hours and you get to wear shorts and a tank top and thousands of people cheer you on. For this, you have to wear steel-toed boots, a Tyvek suit, a respirator/gas mask, goggles, a hard hat, and work gloves. It wasn't even all that hot yesterday after the storm came through and we were still drenched an hour into working. We were ripping the drywall off the walls, ripping drywall and insulation off the ceiling, taking down lighting fixtures, pulling out all the nails so the mold crews can come in and get the house ready to be rebuilt. We finished up with the "gut," which was out in Gentilly. The neighborhood was almost deserted. It was rather eerie.
You find muscles you didn't even know you had. You drink gallons of water and question your sanity on coming down here in the middle of July and during hurricane season and complain a little about sleeping on an air mattress in a bunk bed in an un-air conditioned church fellowship hall a long hot walk away from the French Quarter, but then you remember what you're down here for and you stop complaining. Who are you to complain when you spend your days gutting out someone's house so they can start over? You really have nothing to complain about because at the end of the week you'll go back home on a climate-controlled plane to your house, your car, your job where the power doesn't go off on a regular basis and you don't have to worry about whether the levees will hold this year.
I must have drank some of that Mississippi River water. I want to come back already, but not to live like I thought I did. Maryland is my home. I'm strongly leaning towards the NPRC Red Cross position-I know as an organization the Red Cross has a lot of problems, but I've never met so many amazing volunteers all in one place. Disaster response is tough work but someone's gotta do it, and I would trust almost any of my fellow Red Cross volunteers who I met in New Orleans with my life.
We have another day off today, for the 4th of July. It is stinkin' hot in here, so I think we're going to wander down to Magazine Street for ice cream and window shopping, then see what happens.