| Apr 20, 2006

Feature Article - April 20, 2006

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Feature Article - April 20, 2006

Helping to rebuildNewOrleans


Ever since Ileene Mouck of Sharbot Lake first saw the dramatic images of people stranded on roofs and trapped in the sweltering heat of the New Orleans Skydome, she has wanted to go there to help out. Two weeks ago she finally was able to go to the devastated city with a work team of 12 other people from all over Canada .

The group stayed for one week and worked on two houses, repairing the roofs and drywall, and cleaning up debris. “It’s been seven months and the devastation is still unimaginable,” said Ileene, “but people’s spirits are good and they are so grateful for the help.” Between 50 and 100 volunteer groups from all over the US and Canada have been continually helping in the rebuilding since the disaster.


Ileene’s group was sponsored by Crossroads Ministries, and used building materials donated by 100 Huntley Street in all of the work they did. They stayed in Algiers , a suburb of the city that did not suffer the worst of the disaster; yet it is still common to see smashed vehicles and buildings. Some parts of Algiers are still without electricity and FEMA trailers are everywhere, providing shelter as people slowly try to rebuild. To ensure that rebuilding efforts are not wasted, and to minimize damage from any future disaster, rebuilding permits are not being issued for some houses that are on flood plains.

Ileene said that the jobs they worked on took a lot longer than expected. For example, when they took up the damaged roof of one of the houses, they discovered that the plywood underneath, as well as some joists, had to be replaced. When they took drywall off, they found that termites had eaten some of the studs. A column that Ileene rested her hand on for a moment, crumbled under her fingers it looked fine, but had been destroyed inside by termites.

The rebuilding is going slowly as insurance money is trickling in, but about 20 insurance companies have gone out of business. Ileene was told by the pastor of the church where the team stayed, that only about a quarter of the people are back, and that of 123 schools, only seven are open.

Still, there are sure signs of improvement. More schools are expected to reopen soon, and a local feeding centre that used to feed 1100 people a day, five days a week, is now only feeding 200. Although some people say they would never stay through another hurricane, they are not discouraged and feel the response has been good.

A sign that Ileene spotted on a front lawn says it all: “We’re coming home”

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