|Restoring Hope with Nazarene Disaster Response|
|Springdale Nazarene Church Trip to Louisana July 1-8, 2006|
We arrived at Slidell, Louisiana, Nazarene Church late Saturday night, July 1st. The church had a new gym next to and it had been converted to living quarters for the disaster response teams. The gym was divided in half with a wall of cardboard boxes, half was for the men and the other half had tables for serving meals. The women stayed in a room above the kitchen. There were 2 showers inside and 3 makeshift showers outside. In the church yard there were numerous camper trailers set up that were quarters for long term volunteers. The gym wasn't air conditioned, but was well insulated and with lots of fans it wasn't bad.
At the Monday briefing before we left for the job site, we were told that the houses had been under water for a few weeks and there may be several kinds of snakes living in them, especially water moccasins. There could also be rats, brown recluse and black widow spiders. We were given a map with directions to the house assigned to us with a first aid station marked on it we were to go to if someone was injured. There were no hospitals, the first aid station was at a firehouse. The EPA required that we wear Tyvek suits, respirators, gloves, hats and saftey shoes. We could spend a maximum of 20 minutes inside the house, then we'd have to go outside and breathe some fresh air for 10 minutes or so. We would arrive at the jobsite around 6:30 and work until around 2PM then quit during the afternoon heat.
The neighborhood was a dead end street about 1/2 mile long. It was for the most part abandoned with the exception of a few white FEMA trailers people were living in while work was being done on their houses. The north end of the street ended at a levee, and during the storm surge a wall of water over 20 feet came over it and completely leveled the first few houses. We worked on July 4th, and the neighborhood was so quiet it was like being out in the country. It was completely silent except for the birds singing. It was an eerie feeling seeing all the abandoned houses and complete silence, knowing last year everyone was probably celebrating the 4th.
We found out that the house we would be working on belonged to a widow named Sylvia. We had hoped to meet her, but she was staying somewhere about 100 miles away. A neighbor told us that someone was coming to look at the house every evening the check progress and it turned out to be Sylvia's sister. She stopped by the last day as we were finishing up to thank us for all the work we had done. We were able to talk to Sylvia on the telephone. She had called the neighbor, who was living in a FEMA trailer in his yard, and he brought his portable phone over. She thanked us for the work we had done.