My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
A Journal (more or less)

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Ten Thousand. That's the number of college students estimated to have spent their spring break gutting houses and removing trash in New Orleans. That's fantastic. According to the paper, many are from faith-based or service organizations. And they are getting quite a reality check, about just what Nature's devastation can do.

I know I'll not watch about some disaster in another part of the world now without thinking about Katrina damage--and how very long it takes to settle into a New Normal. I was quite fortunate in the damage aspect, but the impact of the storm went beyond physical damage. Even as Katrina was fairly fresh, I couldn't help but wonder how the people hit by the tsunami nine months earlier were doing.

Now that I'm going into New Orleans regularly I see a bit more each time. As I come off the interstate into a low income area there are large groups of men sort of standing around on the street corners. It took me a couple of days to realize what was happening. They weren't waiting for the bus--they were waiting for day labor jobs. It reminded me of years ago when I worked in New York and in the morning when I was walking from the ferry to my building I passed dock workers standing around waiting to find jobs for the day. I think it was called a "shape-up."

The traffic light situation is one I've talked about, but I just learned that part of the problem is that the quantity of traffic lights needed has overwhelmed the suppliers. Hence, lots of intersections still have four-way stop signs.

Many of the houses on the street I take to Newcomb/Tulane have "bath-tub rings." That's the waterline, and it's about four to five feet high on houses built fairly close to the ground. In the poor section the waterline shows that the houses got about a foot or a foot and a half of water. These are older houses and were built higher. And the people are back living in them. I rather doubt that there has much mold remediation in the low-income housing--much of which did not survive in liveable condition.

On the north side of Lake Pontchartrain things are generally much more liveable, at least in the newer parts of town. If you come into town by way of Hwy. 11 (as I usually do) you go by the devastated camps. As you get to the edge of the town proper there is a bit of a bright spot--Walgreen's has a Help Wanted sign out in front. This suggests that they just might be reopening soon. But not too much else is open.

It's a slow process, made even slower by the enormity of the damage. Needless to say, NOBODY wants even a small hurricane this coming season!

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