Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Habitat for Humanity

Before Christmas the Johnson school organized a trip to New Orleans to rebuild homes ruined by Hurricane Katrina. We figured we would never probably have this opportunity again so we took it. Ben so lovingly volunteered to fly our boys to UT (by himself) to stay with their grandparents and then fly on again to meet me in NO. I could write pages about this trip that included both negative and positive highlights, so here are a few bullet points and pictures...

  • 4 hour wait on airplane in Syracuse, NY at the gate, arriving in New Orleans at 2am
  • 5 days away from our children
  • learned how to use an electric table saw and "cope" moldings for corners
  • cold showers in nasty moldy showers at Camp Hope, now coined Camp Hopeless in our house
  • held a baby alligator on the fan boat ride through the bayous
  • met the man paid to run over "wee man" from Jackass the movie with his fan boat
  • enjoyed jazz music in the French Quarter
  • ate beignet's at Cafe du Monde, and alligator cheesecake, um...somewhere else...I forget
  • enjoyed one luxurious night at a hotel in the French Quarter after enduring 4 nights at Camp Hopeless

This is the day we worked at Camp Hope. Camp Hope is a middle school in the St Bernard Parish they have been fixing up to house volunteers and then eventually use as a full time school. We all slept in classrooms upstairs since the downstairs still needed a lot of work, like sheet rock, walls, etc. The upstairs wasn't much better, except that it had sheet rock on the walls and the locker room like moldy showers. We joked that when we were showering and heard someone drop their soap in a neighboring stall we all silently said a little prayer that they would be able to pick it up without touching the curtain or wall. Put it this way...when I got to the school at 2 in the morning and saw where I would be sleeping, showering, and changing after being at an airport or on a plane all day I stood in the hallway and cried. I was better the next day.

On our day off we took a fan boat ride. It was cold that day and with the wind it made it super cold, but we were all glad we did it. Also, the guide wasn't sure we'd see any gators because most had gone under water to hibernate, but we did. It was super fun!

Here are a few more pictures of us actually working. We learned new skills and screwed up a lot of things. I'm amazed that any Habitat homes actually become habitable. The rainbow neighborhood is the now famous Musicians Village. Ben liked the colors, but I'm not so sure!

Lastly, I'll include a few pictures of some of the destruction and rebuilding. In some areas they are now building the homes 10 feet in the air - very strange looking.

This is weird...along some of the roads in the most devastated areas there are still sea shells in the dirt!

I have tons more pictures, it was hard to choose. If you want to hear the extended version of our experience, give me a call. Over all it was very fun and if I had to do it over again I would. However, I would pay whatever money required to sleep and shower somewhere a tad bit nicer! Spoiled, I know!


Sarah said...

I love the pictures! The most surprising things to me are you using the circular saw and holding the gator! Wow! You guys do the most amazing things, I can't believe the fun memories you have. I loved talking to you, it made me remember even more how much we miss you!! And I love your bangs and your hair dark, so cute!!

Ambyr said...

I can't believe you did this! Good for you guys! What an amazing experience. I'm glad you posted a new blog finally! We've missed you!

A. McF said...

You're a trooper Nicole!

Cathy said...

Great photos!! I bet that was awesome! Way to go!! Service at its best. You look beautiful!! It seems like you've been gone a really long time!! Great job on going the extra extra mile!!