Friday, September 28, 2012

By demand

Oh MY how demanding some people can be.  "More pictures" was the demand on a comment. Well, I wish I had more, to be quite honest.  We were so diligent about working that we didn't really take a whole lotta pics of the work.  Now, the food?  OH YEAH, I can show you those pics. And Brad Pitt houses?  Got those pics too.  And levees?  I can talk about those too.

When we got to the airport the first night, Ben called and told me to drive into Mississippi from NOLA on I-90 which, at one point, means you have Lake Pontchartrain on one side and Lake Catherine on the other and the Gulf of Mexico just beyond Lake Catherine.  This is where we saw most of the damage.  I didn't take pictures of that but suffice to say, there were boats on the side of road, CLEARLY not where they were supposed to be.  Mounds and mounds of leaves, vegetation and other natural debris and then there was the garbage piles...though the garbage piles were mostly inland a little, like in Pearlington.  It reminded me of arriving in Pearlington in April of 2006 and seeing piles trash on the side of the road only to realize that it was there on purpose.  That trash was someones home under repair.  The Army Corp of Engineers would come by and clean it up every-so-often.

Anyway, on the drive into Mississippi on I-90 we drove through this gate thing, which admittedly made me a little nervous.  It was such an imposing gate, I wondered if we were driving past a military base or something and though we saw some vehicles that looked military-like, pretty soon homes appeared again.  Then Jolynn or Laurel or Gail noticed there was a hill off to the right of the road and someone said "oh, maybe it's for the railroad."  We kept driving and didn't think much else of it.

Driving up towards the gate...there is a better picture.  I'll see if I can find it.
Fried Chicken and Macaroni and Cheese anyone?
The next day Ben and I drove into to NOLA to get doors for the house at The Green Project.  We drove back on I-90 and we approached the place where the hill was and Ben then said, "that's the levee."  What?!  That big hill is the levee?  And as we approached the gate looking thing he said, "When the water starts to rise, they close those gates to keep the water out of NOLA.  Now, there were two things going through my head.  One was, "I didn't know were were that close to NOLA." and the second was "I don't like those gates."  There was something menacing about those gates.  Clearly there was a right side and wrong side.  I'm still working through my thoughts about those levees, especially as we talked with Ben and realized the introduction of the big levee and those gates and some levees up the Pearl River, meant that to protect one place from flooding, other places are now beginning to flood because the  There is a cause and effect to our actions, whether we realize it or not...I think I feel a sermon coming on.

So, Ben and I spent an hour or so in The Green Project, bought 6 doors and saved about $200 which made Ben really happy. So happy we went to Rocky and Carlo's for lunch.  Can I just say, best fried chicken ever.  It was so good that when Ben realized, near the end of the week, that he needed to buy another door and we were thinking of what to do for lunch, well, the 5 of us piled in that truck and headed back to NOLA for a door and Rocky and Carlo's!  This time I had the baked macaroni and cheese (and the fried chicken!)  I hope heaven has baked macaroni and cheese as good as Rocky and Carlo's.

It's hard to tell but this one has a metal "waterfall".
The first time Ben and I had been to The Green Project, as we were pulling out of town, he made a comment about wanting to get back to the crew at the house or he would take me to see the "stupid houses" that Brad Pitt built.  The second time Ben and the four of us went to the Green Project, he took a different direction out of the parking lot and I knew right away we were going to see the "stupid houses".  Now, I'm going to just say this...there are people who disagree with Ben's description of the houses.  There are people who will say that it's art.  There are people who like the houses, who think that Brad Pitt and his architects are adding something new to the Lower 9th Ward.  I respect those opinions and the others who are quick to defend the choices made in the design of the homes.  I also respect that people are living in these homes and like them.  I did not like them for the area.  They would fit right in along the beach here in California.
Nope, not in California, though it looks like they should be! 

Yes, this is a house.
I did not like them because of this: for every artsy home there were two empty lots.  Clearly, some money had been spent to build the homes, to create a piece of artistry.  The homes stood out like sore thumbs in a pretty downtrodden neighborhood.  They just didn't fit the area, in my opinion.  Instead of putting the time, money and energy into making these few homes stand out, I couldn't help but wish there had been more time, energy and money put into building more, less artsy homes so more people could return to the neighborhood.  There may be more homes to come, I don't know.  I do know these homes are providing a need and while I appreciate that, I still just don't think they fit...and some of them ------------>
are downright ugly!

Quick...where was this picture taken?  If you said a beach house in California, you lose!

This trip was also the trip of food.  Oh my, the food.  Besides Rocky and Carlo's (where we all came away with souvenir cups that say "Ladies Invited"), there was La Pines, featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, where we had catfish and the best fudge pie ever.  We also went to the Turtle (Turtle Landing that is) for cheeseburgers, shrimp po'boys, onion rings and sweet tea...YUM!  One night we bought steaks and Ben grilled steaks for us...divine!  Of course, the trip would not have been complete without a trip to Yun Long's Chinese Buffet.  I'm getting hungry just typing this out!  OH and Daiquiri's Now! and begniets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde ended the week.  Yep.  Food was not a hardship this time around.
Catfish anyone?  Don't forget to follow it up with Fudge Pie!

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Overall, the week was good and went by way too quickly.  I know there are others in Pearlington who still need help and we may go back again,(I've learned not to rule that out) but I will say for this time around we did what we were supposed to do.  Not only was our presence there to work important but our love, our listening ears, our compassion and friendship was needed as well.  I felt this trip, more than I have the last few, that my job was to be a friend and so that is just what I did.

OH!  I almost forgot.  On one of those back roads was the a NASA center where they built the fuel rods for the space shuttles.  This was out in front.  This is the part of the space shuttle that would fall back to earth.  Wowee!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pictures of the work...Mississippi 12

As promised, here are pictures of the work.  We don't have many pictures of us actually working because, well, we were busy working!  There are some before and after photo's though.
Inside Ben and Sue's house.  The sheet rock was removed around the lower level from the floor up 16 inches.  We worked at replacing all that sheetrock.

This bedroom had a laminate floor it in that had to be torn out.  The rest of the lower level has tile floors.

Water mark on the outside of Ben and Sue's house.

Jolynn preparing to cut the new sheetrock.

Laurel became a pro at rasping the sheetrock to fit just so!
Gail fitting sheetrock into the closet.

The closet under the stairs..

Brittany fitting the sheetrock into the closet under the stairs...

THAT is a PURTY cut...finally!! 

Jolynn mudding...just before she stuck her tongue out at me.  HA!

Siding and OSB removed 24 inches up the side of the house.  This will be done around the whole exterior of the house.

After the siding was taken down and insulation replaced.
A layer of waterproofing went on before the siding is replaced.  There aren't any pictures but suffice to say the ground was still wet and my pants had a layer of tar and mud on them from crawling around on the ground getting that waterproofing on the house!

Ben fighting with a particularly complicated section of siding.  The hope was not to have to take the whole porch down to get to the siding on the house!
The group with Ben and Sue at the end of the week.

The Yellow House.  Douglas and Mary spent a lot of time getting the sheetrock up in this room a couple of years ago.
The floor.  There are 4 dehumidifiers and a fan running trying to get the moisture out of the house.
Last time we were at the Yellow House, the sheetrock wasn't up in this room.  Hard to see it being torn out already.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The week that was...

We didn't have internet access last week at the rental house we stayed in.  I could have tracked it down but I decided not to add that level of stress to the week.  I didn't NEED to write on the blog, though some of you may have been waiting and waiting and waiting...

You will have to wait a little while longer for the photo's.  I'm not quite awake enough to deal with getting them off the camera and to the computer.  I can give you a quick rundown of the week.
  1. Ben had us drive from NOLA into Pearlington on a different route to view the damage better.  There were piles and piles of debris along the roadway, vegetation and household debris, along with multiple boats that washed up along the road and just stayed there.
  2. It's disheartening to walk into a home that one helped to rebuild and see sheet rock one helped put up being taken off the wall.  Very disheartening.
  3. The week was about work, which we did.  The sheet rock was cut 16 inches from the floor in Ben's house, the insulation removed from that level as well and the walls framing was bleached throughout most of the lower level by the time we arrived.  We took out the miscellaneous nails and screws and then cut out new pieces of sheet rock and replaced them.  Laurel and Jolynn did an amazing job of taping and mudding as well!
  4. We helped Ben take off siding and OSB from the exterior of the house and got a very small portion waterproofed as best as possible.  The latter was hard work, my fingers have the scraps to prove it.
  5. This trip wasn't just about doing physical labor.  We offered a lot of emotional support, walked down memory lane a little and did all we could to lift the spirits of Ben and Sue.  That emotional support involved A LOT of Southern Cuisine.  Pictures will tell the story.
  6. This 12th trip (for me) was the first time I had been in the Lower 9th Ward of NOLA.  I'm still working on my thoughts about that but I can say that Brad Pitt plays a part in those thoughts.
  7. This 12th trip I also saw the levee that was built after Katrina...more thoughts on that are coming as well.
  There is more but my brain has decided it's time to stop for the night and go to sleep.  Pictures and further thoughts to come!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Trip #12 is coming...

It's officially, official.  There are 4 of us heading to Pearlington next Tuesday, September 11th.  Can I just say  how strange it is to be going to help with hurricane clean-up on September 11th for a hurricane that hit 7 years to the day after the hurricane which brought us to this town that has so captured our hearts?  Really, really strange.

Prayers are appreciated!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The news from Pearlington after Hurricane Isaac

**Cross posted at my personal blog**

I heard from Mr. Ben today.  The conversation went something like this:

Cell phone vibrates.  I look at Caller ID and answer with, "I've been waiting. What's the news?"

The answer on the other end was "I really didn't want to call you with this but I told you I would check in."

"What's going on Ben?"

"I really don't want to tell you this but I'm just going to tell you like it is."

"Ok, Ben.  What's the news?"

"Well, I really don't want to tell you..."

The news finally came out.  This time it's Mr. Ben's house.  The laminate floor in the small bedroom needs to go.  That's not so bad.  All the sheet rock in the downstairs of the house needs to be torn out from about the 2 foot mark on.  Dang.  The siding on the outside of the house needs to be replaced from about the 3 foot mark on down.  Double dang.

Then the news on the pretty house (aka yellow house). While the water has receded from Mr. Ben's house, the yellow house now has a lake.  Underneath the house and surrounding it.  Lovely.  The sheet rock needs to come out from about the 2 ft. mark here as well.  The sheet rock that we put up two years ago.  DANG IT!

While a part of me wants to just get on a plane and go right now, the logical, practical side of me is sitting and praying for a moment.  Do we go or do we send the money we would have spent on the plane ticket to help with repairs?  That will be tomorrows conversation with Mr. Ben...which will start off something like this..."so what is it that you need the most?"

--As a side note, I've heard comments, already, from some who say "why would you live there?  This is just going to keep happening."  They are right.  It will keep happening.  But why do I choose to live on  a hill that could give way with one good rain storm (Ala 1982-83 rainstorms and floods), that could be wiped out in an earthquake (um 1989?) or burn down in a fire (just a few summers ago there was a close one!)?  We choose to live where we choose to live and deal with things as they come to us.