Serving in New Orleans

Houses of the Ninth Ward New Orleans

[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-9_0.jpg]260Brad Pitt Home
One of the affordable, storm resistant homes built with funds from Brad Pitt.
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-11.jpg]210Rebuilt
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-12.jpg]270Part of a House
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-7.jpg]160Waiting
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-8.jpg]140New Green House
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-9.jpg]150Steamboat House
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-10.jpg]130Only the stairs remain
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-4.jpg]110New Brick Home by the Mississippi River
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-1.jpg]100Home we uncovered
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-5.jpg]90Rebuilt home
New door to the house we uncovered
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-7_0.jpg]90Brick home
[img src=http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/wp-content/flagallery/new-orleans/thumbs/thumbs_photo-6.jpg]110Next door to brick home
Writing on front says dead dog was found here.

Day 6

This morning we returned determined to finish. The rain held off and by lunch time, we had everything cleared by not enough trash bags for the brush and trash. We were suppose to end the day at noon, but we are driven people and needed to bag the stuff. We returned to the church for bags and a few more volunteers. We returned with 20 bags and two additional people. Thankfully, the woman next door went out and bought bags – we needed about 50 to finish the job. We labored and sang knowing that when we finished we would go for one last lunch at Cafe Dauphine.

We did it!

They didn’t seem to mind how dirty we were.

Friday evening we had a Celebration Dinner courtesy of the ladies of the Zion Missionary Baptist Church in the Lower Ninth Ward. We used their building as her starting point each day. They cooked hardy. Gumbo, fried catfish, macaroni and cheese, green beans and potatoes, dressing, rice and sweet potato pie and pralines for dessert. You might never need to eat again.

This was followed by a service of song, thanksgiving and testimony before we headed back to our every day lives.

There will be another trip to New Orleans next August. The work is not done. Our brothers and sisters still need our help Are you being called to serve?

Day 5

Today we saw a whole new Ninth Ward. We crossed St Claude Avenue. This is the area where the levy actually breached. I keep saying we are cleaning up from Katrina, but the real problem in the Ninth Ward was the levy. As it’s been explained to me, the locks on the canal were closed with a ship inside and as the water rose, the ship bounced hitting the levy walls and causing the breach. They are quick to tell you this is a man-made disaster.

We spent the first three days working in the Holy Cross section of the Lower Ninth near the Mississippi River. In the early days, this is where the plantation houses were and on the other side of St Claude’s were the slave quarters and the fields. The homes on this side of the road, are not historic, they are generally not as nice and a lot more of them have been destroyed and not rebuilt. This is the area where Brad Pitt is building 150 affordable, green, storm resistant homes. But, that’s a drop in the bucket. There were 18,000 people living here, now there are about 3500.

Find that house

The story according to Smitty, a local from the wrong side of St Claude’s is that there is and has been for many years a division between the blacks on the two sides of the road. The black teachers, doctors and lawyers live on the Mississippi side of the road while many of the blacks on the other side are uneducated and unemployed. He is confident that most of the families on his side of St Claude’s won’t come back because there is nothing there for them. This is the Ninth Ward that I heard about on the news.

Today we worked with a group from Puerto Rico clearing land. We hoped to finish, but once again the rains came down at lunch time and by 2:30 it was apparent that we were done for the day.

lunch time progress

Lunch Time progress


So we are hanging at the local public library to catch up on emails and websites. Dinner tonight is at Rocky & Carlo’s a mix of Italian, Creole and Southern. Should be interesting.

Day 4

Today's project

Finding the leak

Picnic Lunch

Today we started a new job for Audrey. Audrey owned a home in the lower 9th and some rental properties so she lost her home and her income in Katrina. Three of her rental properties have been restored and are now occupied. She was working on her home when it burned. The last house has been renovated on the inside but still needs doors and some windows. We were asked to remove some sheet rock from the ceiling that was damaged when the roof leaked, hang a door, hang some siding and do some yard work and trash clean-up.

Richard and David began the sheet rock removal and soon began to question if the roof had been fixed. Libby, Karin and I began the outside clean-up and then the rains came down, the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed. We were quickly able to determine that the roof was not fixed and thanks to our flashlight apps could identify where the water was coming in. As the rain continued, we ate lunch.

When the storm, but not the rain was over we evaluated the door that needed to be hung and determined that we did not have the tools to do the job, but hope to return tomorrow.

Tristan spent the day during yard work with a group of college and high school students. I heard good reports from him and the people he was working with.

Day 3

We continued clearing Beverly’s yard. Taking out at least as much yard waste as we did the first day and discovering a trailer. Wile the job is not complete. Beverly feels we’ve done enough that she can finish. She joined us for lunch at the restaurant nearby. We’re not big fans of the pb&j they have available for us.

Day 2

The Ninth Ward is not what I expected. It is a historic area with nice homes and people talk of their kids going to private schools and Tulane. The media painted it as much poorer. We also learned that the Ninth is high ground – for New Orleans. While many homes still need to be repaired and the roads are a mess, it is a nice neighborhood. Two doors down from our work site, we found a great place for lunch.

Clean up from our first work day.


We were assigned to do yard work for Beverly. She owned an art studio in the Ninth and was just about done renovating the building when the storm hit. Now she is trying to decide what to do with the building. Taxes still have to be paid and she had her own house to repair too. But, any building we can get back in shape helps the neighborhood as a whole.

Day 1

We have all arrived and are oriented and are ready to work. The accommodations are in a former grocery store, converted to a church and dorm rooms. There are 183 of us and we will be working for the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. In addition to helping residents repair their homes and they are developing gardens and green spaces. It should be a good week.

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