Day One: Thursday, January 5
After a redeye flight, we arrived in New Orleans on Thursday, January 5. Our busdriver, Leo, met us at the airport, and drove us to our space on a lot in Algiers Point. Our portapots and shower trailer were already there. So were the Verrips brothers (Chris and Justin) who had driven across the country in a truck with a very heavy trailer. Because they did this, we have almost all of the tools, safety equipment, and food that we will need for the entire trip.
We spent all day organizing our NOLA lives, figuring out how to arrange our piles of food, luggage, safety equipment, first aid, and tools in our limited space. Everyone stayed with it all day, and we even had a chance to meet most of our community partners from Parkway Partners, who came and visited us in the evening. The plan for Friday: go to Parkway Partners' main office, get oriented to the range of tasks we'll perform for them, and get started on some community garden work. For the weekend: our first foray into the Ninth Ward, to do some salvage work for a woman named Rosie...
The group took a redeye flight from SFO to Chicago, then into New Orleans. The luckiest ones got about four hours of sleep, but everyone was so excited that lack of sleep didn't slow us down at all.
As planes fly into the New Orleans area, the predominant color to be seen is blue. The blue roofs indicate that there is extreme damage underneath, but they also serve as a sign of hope: a blue roof means that the home is one that will probably be saved.
Our bus arrives at the airport.
Leo Rutledge, our oh-so-funny (and very accommodating) bus driver. He's got every bad joke in the book (Leo: "Wanna hear a solo?" Us: "Okay." Then: Silence. Leo: "Did you hear it?" Us: "No." Leo: "That's because is was SO LOW!")
Emily sorts through the crowded cargo bays. Emily is our top organizer, and decided where everything should be stored.
Inside the bus. Bunks line the outside, boards and cushions bridge the gaps, and some bunks drop down between the first and second levels. Everyone fit. Eventually.
Our kitchen/dining tent. It contains our portable stove, which consists of four camping stoves attached to a rolling box. Our first lunch was provided by a relief pod down the street. They gave us bottled water and lunch sacks, which consisted of tiny cans of chili and beans, some almost-expired cookies, and peanut butter crackers. For dinner, we made macaroni and cheese, and added canned ham and canned chicken to different pots.
We organized a little outdoor lounge area out of some of the discarded items on our lot.
The view from our lot. We are on the Mississippi River, on the very tip of Algiers Point. Directly across from us is the French Quarter.
The crew making dinner. Each team has a chore for the day: Cook and clean up for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, clean the shower trailer, or straighten up the rest of the camp (including portapots).
At night our dining tent is lit with Christmas lights and decorated with ribbons, making it a fun and festive place to block the chilly evening winds.