By Jason R. Roske

Like many of you, Stacey and I have taken several trips to New Orleans over the years. The latest being during the June ’04 Ebay Live conference. We love eating and wandering in the French Quarter with its fine antique shops and restaurants. As we watched the devastation unfold we worried and wondered – what, besides make a contribution to the Red Cross, could we do?

The “what could we do” was answered just a few weeks later when it was announced that the church we attend, Country Club Christian Church, would be sending a group to help with clean-up efforts at the end of October – just eight weeks after the levees were breached.

On October 30th, myself and fourteen others loaded up and drove down to New Orleans. Once there, we stayed in a local church gymnasium and joined others in the clean-up efforts.

We started each day with breakfast at the church. Then we would head to one of several homes and “Clean-up.” This was basically demolition work and trash removal.

The home that I spent most of my time in was a late Victorian double shotgun that had eleven foot ceilings. Mr. and Mrs. Banford, the owners of the home, lived in one side and rented the other.

Clean-up started by removing all of their belongs and piling them on the street to be taken away with the garbage. We saved what we could, but most items had to be thrown away because of the water, their house was submerged for three weeks, and mold.

After that was accomplished, we moved onto demolition. Any flooring above the original hardwoods had to be removed including 50 year old linoleum! All of the appliances, cabinets and closets were removed. As were eight, beautiful, 1860’s fireplace mantels and grills. All of the wainscoting had to go and the walls had to be removed beyond the “mold line”. In some rooms the mold line reached up seven or eight feet, in other rooms the mold reached to the ceiling – eleven feet up.

As you can imagine, the debris piles, which were already large, grew even larger during demolition. The piles created were approximately eight feet high, 12 feet wide and 20 feet deep. These huge piles were removed by companies contracted with the city to remove debris. Fortunately for us a crew removed our piles just as we finished, providing us with even more assurance that we had made a difference for one family.

The last step after demolition was to spray the entire home with a bleach mixture to kill all of the mold that was in the wood and on the studs. I only hope the bleach worked.

During the entire process Mr. and Mrs. Banford kept expressing their gratitude to us – we were happy to just be able to help.

I can’t express how grateful I am that I went . For me it was a truly life changing experience.

Related Links

The American Red Cross
County Club Christian Church