New Orleans

I had been wanting to do more than donate money to the Katrina effort. Lo’ and behold I got a call from my friend Lorraine, “Girl, she said, “V called asking if I wanted to go on a road trip with her to New Orleans and help with the clean-up effort. I told her to call you!”

I was elated and so excited. “YES!”, I screamed into the phone when V called. A dream come true!!! (An intention really, more about intentions later.)

During the months of August and September, I learned V was a Junior League of Chicago member, that the Chicago members were paying their own way (transportation and hotel) and that the week of October 1st was the designated volunteer period. I also discovered a call went out from the Junior League of New Orleans to its members.

So around 10pm Tuesday October 3rd we got on the road, after stopping for black-eyed peas, rice, cornbread, pork chops and lemon cake at V’s mom’s house, and then after stopping to gas up. We arrived in Jackson Mississippi Wednesday afternoon to have lunch with V’s friend Barbara. Finally continuing on to New Orleans after stopping for last minute safety goggles and work gloves.

From what I saw, it’s going to be awhile before this city returns. And I get the population demographics will be drastically different. Having been to New Orleans many times since 1989, what I noticed most was the absence of people milling around, window-shopping, etc.

There are immediate concerns, such as:

  • Housing – I spoke with folks who’ve returned to find their rents tripled!
  • Clean Water – one community was ecstatic because they’d just gotten potable water
  • Clean Up – homes need to be gutted, lots cleared out and cemeteries cleaned up
  • Jobs are available – yet housing is VERY expensive
  • Mental Health – there’re many reports of depression, short tempers and suicide
  • Business – most stores have early hours and many closed earlier than posted hours! (6-8pm)
  • Population – preKatrina 400, 000+ inhabitants, post-Katrina 183,000

Neworleans could use help now. Habitat for Humanity New Orleans takes volunteers applications online, or contact Neighbors United , also there’s a group in New Orleans called Acorn, or MARDI GRAS is in February and in addition to business benefiting from tourism, workers and employees will be supported.

If it were you – and the illusion is that it isn’t – what would you want to happen? Take action and do that!

Filed under: Global Community

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