More from Plaquimines Parish, Louisiana

Trip Start Nov 26, 2010
Trip End Nov 18, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

     This week I am working with Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders.  This organization has been rebulding homes affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Ike since 2005.  Bart and Heather moved down here at the end of December to get things rolling here.  They are hosting two groups of volunteers this week from New Jersey and Iowa as well as a couple from Maine, so about 30 people in all for the week. All have taken time from their busy schedules at home and have made themselves available to be the hands and feet of God.  Many from this group are "boomerangers"- that is, those who have come down to the Gulf Coast to volunteer, and have come back again, many times bringing their friends.  After dinner last night, we heard a talk and saw a DVD put together by a local pastor, Pastor Jesse, who, after Katrina hit here, came back and set up his church as a volunteer center.  For the first year, they were only cleaning up the mess and debris. At one point, someone from FEMA was trying to tell him that while cleaning up they had to separate the cans from the bottles and keep other similar materials together in piles.  He had hundreds of volunteers coming in the first few months and what Pastor Jesse told this man was that he would have the volunteers haul all the junk to the curb and he could have FEMA sort it out if they wanted to.. Plaquimines Parish is a finger of land with levees on both sides and there is quite a debate between the locals who have been here forever and the Feds.  The Corp of Engineers wants to build up the earthen levees even higher but the locals, I believe, have a good point in arguing that the height of the levees should actually be decreased.  The higher they are, the more water the bathtub can hold and the more waters got to be pumped out after a storm.  It was quite a sight though, standing on the roof of one of the new church buildings and watching these gigantic cargo ships passing by, up and down the Mississippi river just over the levee.  Pastor Jesse has a small group of Amish folks down helping for the week.  Both Amish and Mennonite groups have been coming down for 5 years.  They are great framers and builders and have built a number of small houses up on stilts (pressure treated telephone poles).  One young Amish fellow from Indianapolis named AJ was scurrying along the top rafters as agile as a squirrel.  No scaffold, no net, no nuthin.  I was amazed.  Also, much to the chagrin to some in our group, no plan on what it was that we were framing.  "Shooting from the hip" AJ called it.  I would encourage anyone reading this to consider forming a group of friend, church or work folks and a group of one to "come on down".  I can gaurantee that you will get more than you give.  Try it!  Out for now-  Peter
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