New Orleans still in recovery mode

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By The Staff

St. Paul's mission to New Orleans in the summer of 2007 was an eye-opening experience filled with tears, laughter and memorable moments that cannot be experienced more than once.

For these reasons, and many more, St. Paul's 2008 mission was a completely different experience.

The first change I noticed was in the level of destruction, which was obvious upon entering the New Orleans area. Although conditions are nowhere close to pre-Katrina, there is obvious improvement. Businesses are being reopened, homes are now inhabited, debris is no longer lining the streets and abandoned houses are being demolished.

In the summer of 2007, 35 students and adults were a part of St. Paul's first mission trip to New Orleans. Because of the small size of the group, nearly all of our time was spent together. During St. Paul's second mission, however, the group of 65 people was split into smaller groups, and the entire group spent very little time together.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the two mission trips is the work that was done by the volunteers. During mission 2007, the work done was strictly community based. We worked at a community building, a nature trail and a park, and did no work on homes.

This year, however, we found ourselves working in the devastated homes of the St. Bernard Parish residents. We removed mold from the houses by scraping every inch of exposed wood with wire brushes and covering the wood with a shock solution used to kill remaining mold. We then spent hours painting the wood to seal the mold. We worked many hours in the attics and rafters of the houses as well as on ladders; we were working where temperatures were as high as 115 degrees.

Some volunteers found themselves doing electrical and plumbing work, while others installed drywall and insulation. The volunteers at each house met the homeowners and learned their stories. It was very nice to meet the people we were helping.

While the second mission trip was a completely different experience than the first, it was still very rewarding.

Many memories were made during our first mission trip, and many new and different memories were made through the experiences of St. Paul's second mission.

Goffinet was among 65 teenagers and adults who devoted a week of their summer to working in New Orleans.