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Old 01-11-2006, 02:40 PM   #15
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We have departed New Orleans and are headed home. I've lots of info and insights to share and a few pictures. Will post more in a day or two.
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Old 01-12-2006, 10:30 AM   #16
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I know the people of New Orleans are glad for the help you, your wife and other volunteers have given.
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Old 01-14-2006, 03:28 PM   #17
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First, some photo's of New Orleans then a description. The 1st Photo is of ground level zero at the Industrial Canal. The picture is taken below the levy which is being repaired and it shows the big red barge which broke loose, slammed into the levy, breaking a hole, which started the whole flood. Unique coincidence that Baton Rouge means "Red Boat". Baton Rouge seems to be problematic to New Orleans.

2nd Picture is directly infront of the levy break at the big red barge. Houses were floated off their foundations and smashed together. Near everything is gone. Huge piles of debris.

3rd Picture is more damage near the big red barge. The type of destruction seen in Picture 3 is very widespread. There are literally square miles like this.
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Old 01-14-2006, 03:49 PM   #18
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An Overview
New Orleans is starting to rebuild, but it is going to be a long and slow process. The area starting about ½ miles east of the French Quarter and extending eastward seems to be the most devastated. From the French Quarter westward, some areas are already very close to normal.


Some of the first things you notice are there are almost no business signs so it is hard to tell what a business is. Only about 20% of the businesses west of downtown are up and running. Virtually all of the franchises are closed, like McDonalds, Burger King, Advance Auto Parts, KFC, Goodyear stores, etc. The businesses which are open are mostly the mom and pop stores and eateries. There are a few Winn-Dixie supermarkets open. Of the cities' 480 or so stop lights, only about 1/3 are operational. This makes for real traffic nightmares at rush hours. In most areas there is no postal service, or garbage pickup. Most areas have seen major damage to street lights, so it can be spooky dark in the evenings. There are abandoned cars everywhere, from clunkers to Lexus's. Last count was in the neighborhood of 10,000 abandoned cars, but it is probably way higher. There are giant piles of debris stacked everywhere, but it is being removed at a fast rate. In the week we were there, very noticeable amounts of debris had been removed.

Of the cities' Public Schools, only about 15 of 115 are open. There aren't many kids around, but they are starting to return. No public libraries are open. Only one hospital has reopened since the flood. Some will never reopen.


Because of the debris being stacked everywhere, there are lots of screws and nails on the highway and flat tires are a common occurrence.
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Old 01-14-2006, 05:53 PM   #19
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If we can get down there to help out in April over Spring Break, what is the best way to set it up? Woul dI be better going thru a Church type organization, or what is suggested? I might like to go to Pass Christian or somewhere in Miss, as they seem in dire need.
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Old 01-14-2006, 06:22 PM   #20
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Smile Habitat for humanity

What a nice way to spend spring break!! Good for you. Looking forward to hearing Bob's response regarding folks to contact. I'd like to share that the folks who purchased our vintage airstream are working for habitat for humanity in MS, I understand that they went through the MS branch of habitat. Btw they are living in our former trailer during the time down there (Nov-March). Hoping they join the forum and tell their story!
Bob that was such a great thing you folks did! Thanks so much for sharing the photos and the stories.
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Old 01-14-2006, 10:18 PM   #21
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Work of the Volunteers Part 1
We arrived Wednesday, upon reaching our A/S parking space, we were off to volunteer orientation. The 60 minute orientation was history and current conditions and not much about actually doing the work. When we returned to the A/S we found we were out of propane. We had to drive all the way back(65 miles) to a Flying J, 32 miles inside Mississippi to find propane. Propane is almost impossible to find in N/O. Picture 1 is the parking lot we shared with industrial type businesses.

1st day we were at McDonogh (picture 2) along with 20 other volunteers doing mold remediation in the admin offices, band rooms, and cafeteria. McDonogh got 1"-2" of water in the 1st floor. Although it didn't last long, the building was closed up and the very high humidity caused mold on the floors, cabinets, walls, doors, and anything within 48" of the floor. Carpet was removed, chairs and desks were washed and wiped clean, damaged sheetrock was removed, and remaining walls wiped clean. The kitchen in the cafeteria was the worst. People broke into the school to escape the flood and to get food. Problem was they didn't use the restrooms, they used the stair wells….. Nasty work, and a tough day.

Next 2 days, we painted classrooms at AdamsCharterSchool near Tulane. Luckily we had painting experience because hardly anyone else did. The group which had been painting there prior to us didn't know the difference between oil based and latex paint. They tried to clean the latex brushes with mineral spirits. They left a hell of a mess. Our classrooms turned out great. Very near professional results. The teachers really appreciated our work.

The next 2 days we were back at McDonogh doing more cleaning and mold remediation.
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Old 01-14-2006, 10:49 PM   #22
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Work of the Volunteers Part 2
Monday and Tuesday we were back at McDonogh, doing more work in the cafeteria/kitchen, locker rooms, band storage rooms, and computer rooms. This time we had nearly 30 volunteers who worked like devils for two days. The volunteers were absolutely amazing in their hard work, their focus on task, and their dedication. We had one group from NYU and another from Tuffs. We finished up the work we were assigned late the 2nd day and were about to leave when a contractor came up to us. He asked me to tell everyone to take all their belongings because he would be taking over the school and there would be no access for volunteers.

Then he asked me if I knew that the work we had been doing had been put out to bid about 10 days earlier and he was awarded the contract 24 hours earlier.

It turned out we had been doing his work, for which he was under contract and for which he would get paid. Yep! Turns out, the administrators of the school heard there were volunteers available and asked for their help without knowing the work had been bid out and a contract let. All of our remediation work was to his profit. It does seem like Tulane Paint Rally coordinators should aware of work to be completed by contractors. I guess that's the way things seem to turn out in N/O.

The contractor did suggest the Tulane Paint Rally contact the schools where he had just completed remediation, to paint and spruce them up as they were in very bad shape. FEMA limits the work the contractor can do to damage caused by Katrina. Even after his clean-up work was done, there would be lots of painting to do and the volunteers efforts would be best served there. We helped move the supplies to a 3rd school on day 6, and then we departed for home.
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Old 01-15-2006, 09:16 AM   #23
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Facts and Final Thoughts
Pre-Katrina N/O was 80% afro-American. It is now 40% or less. Of the 250 or so volunteers I saw working in various parts of the city, only 1 was afro-American, and she was a hard working young lady from New YorkUniversity. About 3% of volunteers are oriental and the rest were whites. I saw no Hispanic volunteers; Hispanics are the major component of paid clean-up workers. About 75% of volunteers are young women. Of the volunteers, only about 8% are over the age of 35. Except for my wife and I, the volunteers from our group were from the northeast, mostly Tuffs and NYU. The young volunteers, particularly the women were some of the hardest working and most dedicated people I have ever had the privilege to meet. It was an honor to be able to work beside them.

Given a daily average of 25 volunteers working at McDonogh, a total of 600 man hours of work was accomplished, billed at 2.5 times wage rate, they produced an equivalent of $36,000 worth of work. Add Contractor overhead and profit at 15% and the FEMA contractor benefited from our work to the tune of about $41,000.

In most parts of the city, people are discarding items even remotely affected by Katrina under the guise that FEMA is going to replace Katrina damaged items. Items which would be perfectly servicable after a thorough cleaning are discarded because there is a belief that FEMA is going to give them new stuff. An example is the refrigerator in the coaches office at McDonogh. She wanted it thrown out because food had spoiled in it, even though the food could be removed and the inside cleaned and refrigerator reused. Why try to save the old one when FEMA is going to give you a new one. This happens over and over and over and over.


It is very difficult for people to return to N/O to rebuild. City inspectors require plumbing and electrical work to be inspected and signed off on by licensed contractors. The wait for a plumber or electrician can be 2 months. During this time, returnees have no water and no electricity unless they have a generator. The constant bickering between a vocal afro-American minority and City Hall has created a stalemate. The angry vocal blacks, are consistently against every proposal for renovation coming from City Hall with the end result being a 90 day moratorium on building permits in the most devastated and mostly black portions of the city. Even if a house floated off its foundation and is now setting damaged blocking traffic in the street, they are angrily against bulldozing it. With no place to live, difficulty in getting plumbers and electricians and a moratorium on building permits in some areas, blacks trying to return now face an almost insurmountable task of rebuilding. Not having the monetary mobility to endure, they usually just give up and return to where they landed upon evacuation.

The vocal blacks, in an attempt to preserve black politics and entitlements, have precipitated the very moratorim on construction which will likely do the most harm to their ranks. Most of the dispersed will never be able to come home. New Orleans is changed and will never be the same. The rebuilding will take years.
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Old 01-15-2006, 10:16 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Thompson

In most parts of the city, people are discarding items even remotely affected by Katrina under the guise that FEMA is going to replace Katrina damaged items. Items which would be perfectly servicable after a thorough cleaning are discarded because there is a belief that FEMA is going to give them new stuff. An example is the refrigerator in the coaches office at McDonogh. She wanted it thrown out because food had spoiled in it, even though the food could be removed and the inside cleaned and refrigerator reused. Why try to save the old one when FEMA is going to give you a new one. This happens over and over and over and over.
So typical of many people today. I hope they find that they screwed themselves.
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