Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 5: The Day the Skies Opened

Day 5: Rain on Rain on Rain
Quotes of today
"If I could suggest one thing: PUT MONEY AWAY FOR RETIREMENT."
- Hank Highfill

"Take me with a grain of salt."
- Hank Highfall

"That's a lot of dairy - you're going to be very stopped. I'm talking for, like, YEARS."
- Anonymous
So we started today with the threat of rain

But that didn't mean business didn't go as usual. Work was delegated across a whole slew of options: porch-building (which took FOREVER. Did you know that circular saws shouldn't go backwards? #meeither); soffiting; step building; platform-building for air conditioning units; and the like.

And at about 10:30, rain hit. Rain is detrimental to any build site - it makes things slippery, can damage equipment, etc. As a result, we packed up shop and headed back to Prince of Peace.

Because we had time, we headed back down to the French Quarter to see the Katrina exhibit of the Louisiana State Museum, and for me, that became one of, if not the, highest points of the trip.

As someone who was just 12 when Katrina hit, and was isolated from most activity up in Ohio, the exhibit was extremely powerful. It started off with a history of New Orleans and its relation to natural disaster, which extends all the way back to its earliest days. We got a cool and full glimpse of New Orleans' rich history and the culture that comes with it.

And then came full videos documenting the terror that was Katrina. Houses destroyed. Businesses gone. All things personal floating down water-covered streets. The museum does a fantastic job of giving a full feel for the hurricane as much as it can.

The museum then goes into the flooding and the devastation that came with the hurricane. There is a room that made me straight-up bawl. Stories of the Superdome, of hospitals, of neighborhoods. The incompetencies of the protection agencies. Irritation. Anger. Sadness.

And then the stories of ordinary heroes who rescued people and who provided for people. There are full testimonies and videos of people who delivered babies during the storm, or those who rescued 400 people with their personal boats, of the lucky few who fed people as long as they could. A series of incredible stories.

The next room gave information about the frustrations of what had happened to geographically caused some of the devastations - the series of decisions that made New Orleans the ticking time bomb it was.

The final rooms gave more testimonies - there's a rescued, unidentified teddy bear that made me absolutely And then the stories of ordinary heroes who rescued people and who provided fo crumble. It r And then the stories of ordinary heroes who rescued people and who provided foeminded me so much of my dad's teddy bear. And when you think about that, there's the reminder that this was someone's. Someone who may have perished in the storm, or someone that may not have been able to return.

The last video gives a glimpse at the resilience that has made New Orleans an incredible city even after the fact. There's a dedication and a hope there. It's tangible within the city. And this video gives faces to the feeling.

That video made me honored to be where I was, doing what I was doing. And once again, I cried.

I heartily recommend that anyone in New Orleans takes the time to see this exhibit. It's so well-done. And it not only gives a view of Hurricane Katrina and it's impact on New Orleans, it shows the culture behind the devastation.

This evening a few of us got a chance to attend a presentation by Mike Park, the director of Task Force Hope with the US Army Engineer Corps. This reiterated a lot of what the museum had done, but with additional technical details. Needless to say, this man had and has an incredible responsibility to assure this doesn't happen again. [I may update  y'all on specifics for tomorrow's blog.]

Today made us recognize what an opportunity we have. To be a part of the beauty that is New Orleans, and the community that thrived there (and still thrives).

 On some lighter notes, Roanoke College faced humiliating defeat at the hands of Cleveland State University in a loud and energetic game of Catchphrase. (I may or may not have had a meltdown screaming about why the RoCo team couldn't seem to figure out narcotics.)

This is my fifth trip with Roanoke College Habitat for Humanity. Habitat quite simply, makes college for me. And, once again, I'm so blessed to be here.

So, until my socks dry and I can put them back on,
Andrew Dittmar
RoCo Serve staff
Other contributors: Mollie Gleason, Hank Highfill, Phillip Barbolla


No comments:

Post a Comment