Issac Brings Back Memories

On 12/29/06 while staying at St. Mary of the Angels Parish School in New Orleans’s flood-devastated lower Ninth Ward, Louise Silk wrote:

I’m waiting for Steve to return from gutting. This organization is Common Ground. They have gutted 1000 houses and have 100 left to do before the city deadline of January 31, 2007.

There will be a big influx of college students by the end of the week so it’s time for us old-timers to head out. We made great friends with our roommates, two female electricians from The Bay Area, a lesbian couple, both school gym teachers from Rochester and a married 40-something with a young kid from Seattle. I choose not to gut- to many toxins- and opted instead for all of the back-at-the-school work.

This morning I was up at 4:45 to make breakfast for a 6:30 wakeup. There is an old- fashioned converted kitchen school bus (that came from Philly) here that helps to feed everyone- in addition to a tent kitchen behind the school. Breakfast was oatmeal with apples and raisins, home baked scones (By the bus cook), an apple and Starbucks coffee. This morning we feed 120. There are some residents- homeless from the community, neighbors that just know and show up and some workers from
other projects. Most of the food is donated from a pantry kind of place so they never know what it will be. They have been having canned cheese and meat ravioli for lunch for about two weeks straight.

Last night we had a political caucus to understand our role in this male-dominated society and to see how that plays into the situation here- that is very hot, heavy, racial and political. This is the poorest neighborhood in the city and they believe the flood was diverted here to save the all important tourist part of the city, the French Quarter. I walked to the French Quarter the other day. It’s about 2 1/2 miles across a train track and through this neighborhood. I was layered in clothing and very ragged- not having showered or changed in three days. I really had the experience of homelessness and with that helplessness.

Steve and I will have lots to talk about on our 16-hour drive home.

I love you and am ever grateful to come home.



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