We went back to our houses and continued our work there. At my house, we continued scraping the old paint off the house and began sanding down the house in preparation for the painting we’re going to be doing soon. It was another bright, sunny day filled with camaraderie, cliff bars, and hard work. After our long day of work we loaded the busses for an eye opening tour of the lower 9th ward, New Orleans most devastated area after Katrina. Our bus driver and tour guide, Al, pointed out the visible water lines on buildings in the area. The water reached up to 30 feet on some of these buildings. As we drove more into the the area we saw the ravaged homes that remained and the barren lots. It was sobering to see the holes cut in roofs, and the spray painted windows and doors. Al explained to us that only one school was still in operation. The neighborhood seemed empty and desolate, it really drove home the severity of the devastation that lower 9th ward experienced. There were however, some new houses built by the Brad Pitt ‘s foundation Make it Right. The environmentally friendly, solar paneled houses are built in a unique architectural style and added brightness and hope to the community. The busses stopped and we broke off into campus group discussions where we discussed the importance of community, volunteering and the future of New Orleans. We drove back to the motel, and ate a hearty vegetarian dinner, no beans tonight, thank god. After dinner we were privileged to hear, Dan Shea, managing editor of the New Orleans Times Picavyune. He gave us an in depth analysis of Katrina and its devastating aftermath. He told us his personal story of living in a FEMA trailer for 11 months after the storm. His dedication to journalism and serving and informing his community was inspiring. Overall, today was a great day and I learned even more about New Orleans and the impact of Katrina on the great people in this city. Looking forward to more hard work and fun on this trip!
-Kaila Stein, University of Maryland