Saturday, January 20, 2007

Day Twelve

Though the Transformers are down one member (Julie is still in the “hostage situation” at Lisa Trigo’s house as she recovers from her back strain), they still produced the following insights from today’s events. Click below to see what happened.

Another early morning took us back to Natasha’s Habitat for Humanity house on Dale Street in New Orleans East. It was cold again, but much less miserable because it wasn’t raining terribly hard at all and whatever rain we felt was not as freezing as yesterday’s. All of us were ready to roll even after our night out in the French Quarter, as we all made the 10:00 curfew with no problems.

Justin and Shane had a different day than the rest of us as Justin noticed a problem with his radiator that had to be addressed. These two spent the morning chasing down a new radiator on a Louisiana Saturday and the afternoon installing it. They finished in time to make a run to Don’s to apply a second coat of stain.

The Habitat groups this time distributed themselves across three different addresses, with some completing the steps they began yesterday on America Street, some finishing paint jobs further up that same street and others painting interior trim. The paint job that Janeva and Kellie did involved standing on 24-foot ladders and painting the under-edge of the roof; because they are both afraid of heights, this achievement is especially significant.

Tommy and Vanessa worked meticulously to level the new front steps, installing shims and other braces to stabilize the entry-point of the house. Virtually every house has steps at the entry, especially after the new building regulations of the post-Katrina “master plan” were released. To oversimplify the new specifications, all new construction (and reconstruction) requires that most houses be raised an average of three feet from prior standards.

Natasha was with the crew at her house for most of the morning. She talked about her plans for the house, including her recent purchase of furniture for her 6-year-old son. She said that her own furniture is in storage in Texas and that she looks forward to setting up her own bedroom early this spring. We asked her about plans for her large backyard and she said that she hopes to plant a garden there. She also said that she has always wished for a shiny gazing globe on a stand; she is considering whether to buy one.

Once we heard this wish, we did not hesitate. We asked Justin and Shane to make a run right away to find a beautiful shiny orb that will match Natasha’s soon-to-be-purple house. They agreed and brought one right away. Natasha had to leave early today for a funeral and didn’t return before we left. Thus, we didn’t get a chance to give her our gift. Because we expect to return on Tuesday, we hope to deliver it then.

The crew at Natasha’s was incredibly productive today. We got to start “decking” the roof and we laid down about 70% of it. We finished trimming all of the windows, and we finally got those crazy ceiling pieces cut at the absurd angles that were necessary to make them fit (Elijah and Aaron were the kingpins on the completion of that one). We almost finished the facia along the roofline and we marked the lines for the siding. We expect to hang much of the siding on Tuesday.

Courtney got a visit from her cousin Gail, whose place we cleared last January (it was the place where we found an intact picture of Courtney and her sisters and brother, though there were very few salvageable items in the whole house). Gail, her twin sister Kathy and Kathy’s husband Bobby brought us King Cakes (a coffeecake/Danish-like item that is a major New Orleans tradition) that were decorated in Saints colors. They had waited two hours in line to get these cakes for us. We are grateful for the treats and for the commitment that it took to get them for us!

Julie is feeling better finally, so we think we will bring her back to the bus with us when we leave Cindy and David’s after the game tomorrow (Go Saints!). We look forward to a day in front of the TV, especially with the chance to participate in such a major cultural happening for the city of New Orleans. The opportunity to eat barbecued alligator and crawfish sounds pretty good too.

We hope we get to celebrate a big Saints win tomorrow! Please cheer along with us.

Taking a lunch break from the daily grind of the Bringing Back the Bayou Crew, Shawny, Lindsay and Jed talk about the days work. Placing bets on Aaron and Elijah finishing linking the truss joints… After a long and grueling day of continuous work progress was made but the days work for Aaron and Elijah went uncompleted…Shawny won 10 dollars.

Elijah and Emily put the finishing touched on the links between the truss joints.

The temperatures were low, but our spirits were high. Brian breaks it down for some lunch time entertainment.

Bree and Shane work to raise the roof at a Habitat for Humanity house.

Our new “truck.” With Justin’s truck in the shop due to a busted radiator, we had to rent a Kia.

An example of a completed Habitat for Humanity house. Seeing Natasha’s house in other pictures, one can see the progress that is being made.

A vacant lot in New Orleans East. Many of the trees in the area have been uprooted by the storm.

Kellie and Janeva pose after a long day of painting with their Habitat for Humanity supervisor Caitlyn.

Kellie, Janeva, Vince, and Linzy paint the exterior with style and grace. By the end of our experience, they will be professional painters.

There are still many homes untouched in the city of New Orleans. Rebuilding the city is a long-term process that will take time, perseverance, and a lot of helping hands.

During our busy day at work, we noticed an abandoned boat on the side of the road. This is a typical picture in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Feke shows patience in every stroke with his paintbrush in a newly built in east New Orleans.

Bryan Navarro pays special attention to the trim on of one of the many houses built by Habitat for Humanity.

Yessenia is all smiles after a hard day’s work on Natasha’s house (look at its new roof!). In the background, Aaron snaps some more photos.

Vince and Lindsay apply a second coat of white paint on closet and door trimming.

In the two pictures below, we see Janeva and Kellie overcome their fear of heights to give a home its brand new coat of peach paint.

This blog includes a special Brian Navarro production. This video was made right before we came and we hope that you will be as entertained as we were by his creative short film!