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Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

04 October 2005

Well, I went to Bogalusa La over the weekend to help clean up hurricane damage. It was interesting. There was, on the one hand, a lot to do, but on the other hand, things generally seemed to be well in hand.
We arrived Friday afternoon about 1700 and were told we could set up our tents and relax and get started in the morning after everyone else arrived. We said we would rather set up our tents then get to work. So we did. Went off to a neighbor hood, found a house with trees lying in the yard and offered to clean them all up. After being questioned by the lady of the house repeatedly about how much we would charge for the work (nothing) she said yes and we went to work. Eleven guys and three or four chainsaws can go through a lot of tree pretty fast. So before dusk we had their lawn pretty substantially cleaned up. We left the stumps in the yard because we didn't have the digging tools needed to dig them out. Back we went to camp with a feeling of victory. While we had been out others had been arriving and continued to arrive during the night. Early Saturday morning(0600) we were up and were given a list of targets. It was quite efficiently done. You directions to house 1 and directions from house 1 to 2 and so on. The directions included street names and distances and such which was good because many street signs were down. We were told to stick to the list and if we got it finished to come back and get more names. The problem with this of course is that the lists had been compiled almost two weeks earlier (last weeks crew had been cancelled due to Rita) so a lot of the houses on the list had pretty much cleaned up already. Our team's decided policy was to go to a house and spend about two hours there unless it needed extrodinary work (none did)then move on. So we never completely finished a piece of property but we got up the worst of the damage and left things much much better than when we arrived. Of our first six houses two of them were already done by the owners but the other four each got a lot of trees cut up and moved around. I hated looking at all that great oak firewood being piled into burn piles for destruction. I will recall it this winter. So about 1700 we went back and got a new list. We knew we wouldn't finish but could maybe get two houses in before dusk. We went to a house and got to work and here is where my rebellious streak came up. This house had lots of trees down but the neighbor's house had three large (tow of them very large) trees lying across his roof. Now what I wanted to do was to finish the yard we were in (it had a lot of trees down) and then blow off the list and go to the neighbor's house (which had also been flooded) and spend the last hours or so before dusk doing whatever we could there. And I argue forcefully for this option. Unfortunately (in my opinion) our crew chief was more of a rule following guy and decided we had to stay with the plan. He did go and get the neighbor's name and address so he could be added to the lists for the next crew. Unfortunately when we got to the next house on the list it had already been cleaned up by relatives and it was too late to go to another place and start. So we walked away from a man who needed help to go to a place that had needed help but didn't anymore. I recognize the need for organization and planning. I really do. I know that more gets done when work is done in an orderly fashion following a plan. But it galls me that we left that man with three trees on his house. Due to drive length and people's jobs and such we were really only a Saturday crew, we had to leave on Sunday to come home. So we didn't get back to that house. I can only hope that someone else will this week.
So while I know we accomplished a lot and did real good work, I personally feel unfulfilled by the mission.

Now a few random observations:
1. Gas was 40 cents a gallon cheaper in the midst of the hurricane damage than it is here where I live. Can anyone explain the logic in that to me?
2. There was a lot of damage but not as much as we had been led to believe. A lot more trees were up than were down, more house relatively undamaged than damaged.
3. Underground power lives would be a REAL rational thing in a place like that. (they did go almost a month without electricity. It came back on the day before we arrived in town, crews were still stringing wires out in the parrish areas)
4.Wahl's Catfish House in Bogalusa is an excellent place to go eat. I highly recommend it should you for some ungodly reason find yourself there.
5. I found that I didn't' take very many pictures. It seemed a bit intrusive to stop the truck, get out and take a picture of the ruins of someone's house. And there weren't so many "ruined" houses that you could just get pics from the road.
6. Bogalusa is about 50 miles inland. Where I live is about 50 miles inland too. It was interesting to see what we have to look forward to if a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane rolls our way. I may just evacuate after all.

This is part of our crew after doing our Friday night house. Did I mention it was warm and VERY humid?


Blogger kathi said...

How did you get involved in this clean up? It's such a selfless gesture, and I thank you for it.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Your state taxes may explain, in part, the difference in gas prices.

2:50 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Eddie - Within California, there's a huge variance in gas prices. Gas stations charge what they can get away with.

One thing I notice is the closer to a freeway a gas station is, the more they'll charge.

Exmi - I'd be throwing up doing that kind of work at 1700 hours. One thing I couldn't take about the South was the heat/humidity. I'm in excellent physical shape too, so it's not like I'm some couch potato.

that's awesome you did this.

4:27 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

Not taxes. Georgia had suspended all gas taxes for the month of September. Interestingly enough, it is october and teh gas taxes are back and gas is ten cents a gallon cheaper than it was when I left last week. I detect no logic at all.

As for how I got involved, my church has been sending groups in every weekend from different areas. Last week was our turn and I volunteered.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on making a difference. The whole disaster would have been much less of a fiasco if more individuals had actually taken the responsibility to go out and fix a problem.

6:26 PM  
Blogger The Zombie Lama said...

We need more exmi's

8:34 PM  
Blogger Blue Girl, Red State said...

Thanks for getting out there and rolling up your sleeves and getting to work helping others.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

That was so great of you to go help with the damage in LA. My grandparents are in Mississippi and fortunatley things weren't too terrible for them. Their house was standing..that was the main thing.

6:05 PM  

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