A hurricane can do a lot of damage to property. Cleaning up after it is a big chore.

Here is an example of some of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Rita

Monday, March 6
We started today at 9:30 AM. We were needed to help the Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish clean up some debris left over from the hurricane damage. Using a wheel barrow and the small van with garbage cans, we moved the mulch from the trees that were destroyed in the front of the building to cover the dirt and tree roots in the back parking lot of the buildings. Jen had to back up the van, and was a little directionally challenged, but she did get the van between the trees. Lunch was prepared
and enjoyed
by all of the workers.

Another group power-washed the toys that the pre-schoolers enjoy. They found a group of fire ants, and Brendan was covered head to toe
with the mud that was being washed off of the toys.

Bob, Bill, Brian, and Brendan went to Bobcat of Lake Charles place in Lake Charles that is giving us a Bobcat and a trailer to use for free this week to use to help clear debris. They drove it to the work site that we will be at tomorrow. They returned about 7:00 PM

Supper was goulash, salad and Texas toast

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On the road at 8:30 AM. We dropped the trailer for the bobcat off at Bobcat of Lake Charles,
who have let us have use of it for the week for free. We headed to St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Cameron, where we met up with Harry Conner. We are going to his property to help him and his daughter clean up. As we headed towards Cameron, we did not see too much hurricane damage. Once we crossed the bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway, the damage became apparent. The debris and garbage is everywhere along the highway. We went through the Cameron Wildlife Refuge, where alligators were sunning themselves along the bank.

We arrived at the Conner's property.
All that was left of his and his daughter's house was a foundation. Everything was gone.

Before Hurricane Rita

After Hurricane Rita

We spent the day cleaning up shingles out of the mud

, moving cinder blocks, taking down a corral, and just cleaning up the property
. Everywhere you looked, all that you saw was debris strewn amongst the brush. I found a Brooks & Dunn CD, that I cleaned off. It plays great!

Pictures and words cannot describe the debris that we are seeing.

After we were done at the Conner's, we took a drive into Cameron. The devastation along the rode was indescribable. The debris was either left from a house that used to be on the foundation, or appliances, roofs, cars, and boats that were blown around by the hurricane.

Sunburns and sore muscles are the order of the evening.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Today we went back to the Conner's property in East Creole. Continued cleaning up the property. It looks better now that the debris has been cleaned up.

On the way out, we stopped to see the alligators.

Harry Conner provided lunch, which was hot dogs and chili cooked out over a gas grill.

After lunch, a rest room run was made. We have to drive 20 minutes back up route 14 to Chesson's, the only convenience store or rest stop for miles around. We then went back, and finished cleaning up.
The next family that we are going to help are the McEvers.
Their property still had a lot of debris.
Ceiling fans, a blender, a coffee maker, shot gun shells, tapes, aluminum siding, corrugated roofing, and a toilet are some of the things that we cleared away.
All of the debris has to be brought to the curb, where the Army Corps of Engineers
will come along and remove it. It is time-consuming work, and very labor-intensive. Having the Bobcat is a tremendous help, as we can move a lot of debris at one-time, as opposed to carrying it to the curb by hand.

On the way home, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

We continued working at the McEvers place today. The Bobcat would not start, so we had to move all of the stuff to the curb by hand.

We did have the trailer attached to the big van,
so we loaded that up and hauled debris to the curb.

The mini-van got a nail in a tire, so we will need to get that fixed before we head back to Massachusetts on Friday.

Friday, March 10, 2006

This is our last day to be working. There is still so much to do...

We got the nail taken care of in the mini van's tire this morning. People are very nice and accommodating down here.

We went back to Mr. McEvers' place, and continued cleaning up. A news crew from KPLC is meeting us at 10AM at Mr. McEvers' property. Harry took the big van down to meet them, and the mini van will catch up. When the mini van got there, the news crew was finishing up the interview. They then stayed and got footage of us clearing debris. This story will be shown on the 6:00 PM news tonight.

The Bobcat people came out and got the Bobcat running. Bob was going to try and give them directions to get to Mr. McEvers' place, and all Bob had to do was tell them that we were down in Creole at Losten McEver's property. They knew exactly where we were without an address! With the Bobcat's help,
we got most of the major debris cleared up: a fence stuck in the mud,

corrugated sheet metal, bricks, and cinder blocks. The crews that clean up the debris from the side of the road showed up, and started taking debris away. They started, and then found boxes of shotgun shells. They had to stop and call in the EPA, since the shells are considered hazardous material. They left a marker where the shells were, and moved on down the road. Mr. McEvers took some help and cleared all of the shells from the road. He will get them disposed of later.

We had to stop working about 2:00 PM, as we still have to pack up, get the camper (another story), and head home tonight. It was sad to have to be leaving with so much work still to be done, but satisfying knowing that we have made a small contribution in getting the lives of some of these people back on track. Mr. McEvers will build a small house here, but only use it for when he comes down to hunt and fish.

Mr. McEvers is about 2 miles from the Gulf as the crow flies, and he told us how high the water was when Hurricane Rita came through. He estimated that the waters were about 20 feet high, since the telephone poles had debris stuck in them at the top. That is some serious water. And I can believe that since you will see some intact houses sitting out in the bayou.
They were put there by the flooding waters and moved by the strong winds.

A news reporter is waiting for us back at the retreat center for a 3:30 interview. Then we will pack up, and hit the road!