New Orleans House Party: Drywall keeps fallin' on my head
class=img_thumbleft>When we pulled up at East Hermes Street this morning, some city workers had the street blocked off. They were sorting through all the trash we had put by the curb. They were wearing full protective body suits and masks. We wondered if we should have the same gear to protect ourselves. They told us they were looking for any hazardous materials. They quickly finished up the work they were doing and let us get to the house.
We took down all the drywall and ceilings in the house. It was dusty and dirty, but a lot better than yesterday. One of the guys in our crew went up into the attic and kicked the ceiling down from above. This seemed to work pretty well, you just had to be careful not to get hit by falling debris. A few big chunks of drywall hit my head. It didn't really hurt; it was just surprising to have it come down so unexpectedly. The rooms were quickly becoming unrecognizable. We worked quickly and efficiently. Around noon we finished the house.
As we were leaving a van pulled up. Two guys and a boy hopped out and started sorting through the giant pile of trash. I'd say one guy was around 50 years old, the other was in his 30s, and the boy was probably 10. We didn't talk to them because they seemed pretty rough and not too proud of what they were doing. It wouldn't have surprised me if they had also slept in their van the night before. They were looking for any salvageable metal: Their van was filled with scrap of varying sizes.
After lunch, two men and I helped out around the church, which is in Slidell, where they had around 3 to 4 feet of water. It had receded more quickly here--in about 24 hours--sparing many of the houses the worst of the damage. We cleaned out a ditch along the south side of the building. Since the hurricane, even hard rains sometimes cause flooding. We found: Styrofoam, water bottles, boards, metal, coolers and even a TV.
Words and pictures by Adam Craven
Editors note: Last month, Adam Craven, a graphic designer for City Pages, barreled down I-55 to New Orleans in a caravan of five rented minivans. Along with a crew from his Minneapolis church, the Rock, he spent a full work week cleaning out houses in Louisiana. This is part two of a five-part series. Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five
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