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April 23, 2006

New Orleans Katrina Clean Up Day One

The quick background, for those who may not know where I am currently.

My gracious employer, Return Path, has sponsored six of us on a volunteer effort in New Orleans for the post-Katrina clean up efforts.

Before I go into arrival details, quickly I want to mention what a great opportunity Return Path has provided us. Specifically Matt Blumberg our CEO who has made community service an important part of our corporate tapestry.

Return Path sourced the opportunity, provided most of the organizational horsepower, and ultimately has paid for our travel and rental vehicles.

Thank you Return Path!

Now, to the effort. We are specifically working in St. Bernard Parish, one of the more devasated areas. As I understand it, there are 27,000 homes in need of "gutting" or razing here. If our total camp assigned team of 10 does 4 or so in our 6 days here I think that would be amazing. There is a lot that needs done.

Today was spent traveling from Denver to New Orleans. Then, after meeting up with two of my co-workers, we made our way out to our FEMA operated volunteer camp.

We arrived in 45 minutes or so, driving through what I think was largely "the ninth ward". I heard someone mention that, but am not sure what that means.

Along the way, we saw many things. The majority of homes and businesses are still closed, boarded up, in need of cleaning or look unsalvageable. Many have piles of debris out front or all around. Symbols and markings are spray painted on each building, dated and clearly from the very immediate post-Katrina search and rescue efforts.

I saw a tree, oak maybe, that had to be 12 feet in diameter, maybe 50 feet tall or more, ripped out of the ground and sidewalk it had previously been growing near. Whoa.

Our camp is Camp Premier. It is large and well run. There are many tents for bunking. We are staying 12 to a tent, gender separated. We enjoy a large mess hall, with good food, games and activities, all the water and soda you could want.

There is laundry service, about a 24 hour turn around we hear, and hot showers.

Now, following our initial intake registration, receiving IDs, camp tour, team and tool leader meeting (I'm a team leader), team meeting, and orientation, we are finally bedding down for the first day's work.

I'll cover more of what that is like tomorrow. From all of our initial training, I "think" I know what to expect, but again, I'll save that for next time.

Also, much thanks to our co-workers, covering for us back home. We'll do you proud. Also, to my family. Thanks for letting me go, I miss you guys already, but am proud to have come to contribute to this wonderful effort that is so needed.

Until next time...

Posted by gcrgcr at April 23, 2006 9:43 PM

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