Jumping Right In

Written April 19th, 2017

Our 2017 team
We usually take a day to sight see before we start working, but since we couldn’t come down until Monday this year, we went right to work today.  With an hour and a half commute, we also had to be up earlier so we can get through breakfast and get on the road.  We did well today, and managed to be in our cars and ready to go a by 6:30 AM for our 8:00 orientation.  The traffic gods were also kind, so we made it in good time.

SBP Southern Louisiana is much smaller than SBP New Orleans.  They have only about 10 staff members, and a much smaller office.  They have only been open for about 6 months.  Our volunteer coordinator and our site supervisor are both locals, and went through the storm themselves. That was something new for us.  It was great to be able to hear first hand accounts of what happened last August.

We are working on a single family home in Baton Rouge.  The neighborhood was hit hard in the floods and is still recovering.  We saw several FEMA trailers in people’s yards, as well as dumpsters and piles of debris at the curb waiting to be picked up. The damage isn’t quite as obvious as the Katrina damage.  The biggest difference between what we saw in New Orleans and what we are seeing in Baton Rouge is that for the most part, the houses are still standing.  They may be boarded up, or in various stages of construction, but there aren’t the empty lots, or houses pushed off foundations that we saw in the Ninth Ward.  While the houses are standing, they are still quiet, empty and waiting. That scene is very familiar to us.

We got a chance to meet the homeowner, Mr Scott, today.  He stopped by and told us what happened to him during the flood.  He hadn’t ever been worried about his house flooding because he had been assured that his house wasn’t in a flood zone and so was safe.  He told us that for the first 3 nights of the storm, he wasn’t able to sleep, but after that 3rd day,  he finally relaxed thinking he had made it through.  He went to bed early and slept soundly.  At 3AM, his neighbor called to warn his that the water was rising.  He got out of bed and the water was up to his ankles.  When he realized the water was reaching the level of the electrical outlets, he went to shut off his breakers.  Next thing he knew it was up to his knees, and still rising.  Pretty soon it reached his thighs and he realized he had to leave. He grabbed his dog, got in his truck and drove out though water that was up to his headlights at that point.  The water level eventually reached 4 feet in his house. He eventually ended up at his sister’s house, and is still living there now.

Getting to talk to the homeowner makes it easier to get through a tough day.  When we can put a face and a story to the name on mailbox, the work becomes more about helping Mr Scott get home than just about the baseboard we’re nailing or the door we are hanging. So it was a long day, but it was a good one.   We are starting to get to know one another, there was a little dancing going on, and we started to make progress on the house.   Most important of all, we made it home in a mere 12 hours, not 13 years.  And we’re ready to go back tomorrow.

© 2017 - Nolateers
Wordpress Themes
Scroll to Top