Saturday, November 19, 2005

Day 7 - Last work day in Biloxi

We worked with the tree crew again today. A good crew. Jojo is the lead and will climb up anything with a chainsaw. We call him monkey-boy. He's all of 5 ft tall and his energy is limitless. We were also with Carl, a retired elementary school principal from California. He was the oldest member of the crew but more than pulls his weight.

My right foot is pretty messed up. I took a pic but I don't think you want to see it. I've tried to keep it clean and dry but working 8 hours in combat boots means they sweat. Rossana applied some antibiotic cream and a gauze pad. It really needs some air. Rossana is sporting some nasty bruises and a couple of mean scrapes from tree limbs. No serious cuts or punctures so far (knock on wood) although I have developed the 'Katrina Cough'. I'm told a lot of people pick it up but it's not serious.

When we got to our second job I started to feel bites on my arms and neck. There seems to be some kind of mite down here that finds people mighty tasty. Very small, but they hurt like a bitch. I started to get paranoid and thought I felt them on my scalp. I seem to do more damage to myself hauling debris than any other job. It doesn't help that the area is littered with hidden holes which I seem to find with amazing regularity. I have so far avoided seriously messing up my ankles thanks to my trusty Army surplus boots. Best money I ever spent.

We finished our jobs a little early and dropped 2 of our crew over at a house clean out, The crew leader was unhappy because a Senator and some other political hacks came by for a photo op earlier in the day. The problem is that our crew had already mostly finished. But the senator wanted the photo op so several heaps of debris here hauled back into the house so the could haul them back out again for the cameras. Is this news? Does this count as compassion or solidarity? Are they really helping by using some poor bastards ruined house as a prop?

We finished the day and I went straight to the showers to scrub the little bloodsucking bastards off. They collapsed for a nap. We decided to miss the evening meal. Rossana doesn't want to say any public goodbyes, she just wants to slip away tomorrow. We'll say adios tomorrow after breakfast to the people we want to and then pack up the last of our gear.

We went to dinner at a Chinese buffet with Vlad and Liz which was great. Good food and great company. Vlad is a total geek and it's fun to talk geek with someone.

tomorrow we hit New Orleans. I don't know what kind of connectivity will be available. I may be making these posts from my phone which means they will be drastically shorter. I'm also not sure still about the camping situation. Emails from Common Ground have been vague.

It's great that 2-300 people are coming in to help. But does Common Ground have enough equipment to give them? How will they get to the work zone? Have they set up specific projects? Here at Hands on USA there is actually a whole admin department that supports our teams. They take requests from people as well as scout out locations where we can be of use, they write up work orders and allocate (in a very loose way) resources to get everything done. Is this system in place in New Orleans? I guess we'll find or very shortly.

I feel good about heading out. A whole new crop of volunteers flew in today as well as some hippie types who arrived in a psychedelic school bus 'powered by vegetable oil'. New blood and renewed energy. They'll do a great job I have no doubt.


Anonymous said...


Those little buggers that are eating you are called sand fleas and they are nasty. This will sound weird but get some skin so soft and apply it liberally to your exposed skin. It does a great job of keeping the little bastards off.


Anonymous said...

Watch that "Katrina cough" carefully. When our house flooded, I did two solid weeks of clean up. By the end, I had a persistent cough and my eyes were gritty all day. I ended up getting pretty sick. The silt is everywhere and produces the nastiest fine dust. Mold and mildew are predominant, and you don't need allergies to be affected at such high levels.

Get enough fresh air to keep from getting sick.