I Didn't Go to the Ninth Ward

I was in Biloxi, MS but did not go to the waterfront. I did not see the dislocated barges or the casinos. I was in New Orleans and I did not go to the 9th Ward. Instead, I met a woman named Fay in MS and worked with my team helping to deconstruct flood effected portions of her home. Some of us returned the next day to continue to provide working hands and in addition to provide emotional support for a traumatized, depressed, and frustrated woman. In New Orleans, I worked with a team on a charming, elderly man's home. The lower level of the home was filled with water, floor to ceiling after the hurricane. When we arrived, the homeowner, Mr. Edinburgh was scooping debris off of the street with a shovel. he greeted us with a handshake and a smile. We dressed in smurf-like Hazmat suits with tough rubber gloves, goggles, and face masks. Outfitted with a variety of tools we began deconstructing the walls and ceiling in order for mold remediation to be done. Standing in the empty room was surreal - to thinkt hat it had been completely full of water is almost unbelievable. I am always amazed at how easy it is to deconstruct someone's home. In a few hours, seven of us were able to pull down sheetrock, wood paneling, base boards and the ceiling until the home was a skeleton. I had to stop and remember4 that we were not just doing a job, that we were dismantling someone's home. The homeowner left with a few members of our team while the work was being done and when he returned, half his home was not how he left it. It was gone.

I am conflicted about my experience on this trip. On the one hand, my curiousity pulls at me like a cat, with desire to see the destruction in the worst affected areas. I want to be able to say that "I was there..." but as I was standing in Mr. Edinburgh's home, I realized that the reason I came to the Gulf Coast was not as a tourist. I came to be here for the survivors of the hurricane in whatever way they needed me - and what they needed most was help to get their lives back together one piece of drywall at a time. My heart is torn between my intense desire to return home to my husband and to all of my obligations at school and the other half of my heart telling me that I should stay here until all of the work is done. I'm not sure what the message is from my experience. There are countless political ramifications of the pre- and post-hurricane conditions. My next step is to determine how I can work today to make tomorrow a little better for someone else. Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

Kristin Lupfer

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