In June 2008, near the end of my junior year in high school, I went on a school trip to New Orleans for a week. The goal of this trip was not only to visit a very interesting place like New Orleans, but we also helped with the clean up and rebuilding of the city. We were given a house to work on in the lower 9th ward, where the majority of the destruction happened.
The first day we got there, we drove out to the location of the house. It was an incredible drive. Even after three years, there was so much damage and clean up left to do that it seemed like the hurricane happened the day before. When we got to the house, it was barely even standing. Most of the bricks had been thrown hundreds of yards away and the wood beams holding the house up were rotting away. The next day we started working. We took down the rest of the bricks and started replacing the beams. By the end of the week we had replaced all of the rotted beams and had put wood panels up all around the house so that further construction could be done. Our group leader said he had never seen this much progress in one week of work. The grass and weeds were cut and the house was starting to take shape again.
On our last day there, the owner of the house came by to see us. The moment she walked in the house she started crying. Back before the storm she used to be the lady everyone in the neighborhood loved. Kids would take breaks from playing to come to her house and have freshly made lemonade. She was so thankful that we were helping her re-start that life.
Another group went the following year to continue the work. They sent us a picture of the finished house, one year in the making. The old lady had moved back in and the neighborhood was beginning to be full of life again.