Things started slowly. I got up early and had beignets in the Metairie Cafe du Monde. It was busier than I have ever seen it. But beignets are good food and it was worth the wait. I headed out to New Orleans East to see if anyone needed help. Just off Morrison Rd. I drove up and down the neighborhoods to see if anyone was working and needed a set of free hands for a few hours. I had a trunk full of water to give out and some money in my wallet for food or drink. I met David and his wife who had had their house gutted out last week. They looked beaten but determined. The rest of the neighborhood was completely deserted. The houses and cars were utterly destroyed as things were elsewhere in the city, but it just looked worse here for some reason. I don't know why.
I drove down by the Lakefront Airport (what a mess) and ran into some people who were cooking food. I gave them my water and money to go buy hamburgers with the direction that they must give the food away. There can be no charge. I didn't go back to check, but they were from Atlanta (Pam and Larry) and were trying to feed those who were working on their homes. I hope they did as I asked because to me it is really important that people help each other.
As I drove up Franklin, I turned into a neighborhood and asked a man if anyone needed help. His name was Richard. He told me someone down the block was working on his house, but there was no one there. We went to his house and just chatted. His grandson is playing basketball now in Longview, TX and had an article written about him in the paper. He was so proud. He had taken his insurance money and bought his house. No more mortgage. And he had gutted it and was waiting for his trailer so he could get to work. He took me in to show me. Nothing but the studs were left. He has great plans to move walls and make some new space. I am going back to help him in March. Why does this man not have a trailer? Why is there no power on in his neighborhood? He is one of the good guys, and he has a lot of fight left in him. He was drinking Budweiser tall boys which he said he knows is bad but "if he doesn't, there is all kinds of turmoil in my mind." I had one with him so we could keep talking.
I left there and drove through Lakeview. No one was working much because of the weather, but I did stop and talk to John. He was cleaning up some rotten plants from the backyard and cleaning his porch. He had moved to Madisonville and was going to keep his house as a rental. He has no plans to move back. His child has special needs, and his family can get better care for her across the lake. So it goes.
Rain was coming, and most people had quit their work by one o'clock. I headed home to help my mom with her house. She seems so content right now with things the way they are - no carpet, cabinets with no faces, raw sheetrock with spackle showing, lights out, dust everywhere, furniture in the wrong rooms stacked on top of itself. The house is livable - there are two functioning bathrooms, and the kitchen works. It's not the best way to live, but it is doable for a while. She has big plans and is just taking her time, I guess. It would drive me insane, but I think it may work better for her to deal with it in small pieces.
The important thing is that they get the PILOT - What does the city get in return? Nobody knows, really. The developer of a 208-unit apartment complex in the Lower Garden District near the Pontchartra...
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