Getting to Work – Days 3 & 4

We’re Here! Two Prime Days

While we had a fantastic weekend, full of experiencing the New Orleans culture, Monday allowed us to get to work with the St. Bernard Project. Prior to starting the work day on Monday, we had a group check-in to see where everyone was at. Most of us were excited to start work, but some were nervous because it would be their first time doing this type of work. The nerves were not a hindrance though, as we got off to a very strong start Monday and carried that momentum into Tuesday. We were exhausted, but excited about the work we were doing and the progress that was being made. Below is a small snap shot of our third and fourth days, followed by a reflection from one of trip leaders, Cheyenne Mendes!

Snap Shots – Days 3 & 4

Day 3:

  • Orientation at St. Bernard Project – got to sign our names on their benches, with every other volunteer that has ever volunteered! (there were thousands of signatures)
  • Started working at #spbbaccich (check the hashtag on social media sites to see our progress!)
  • Listened to a Bucknell alum who is currently working in New Orleans – awesome to hear his perspective!

Day 4:

  • Straight to the work site to finish priming and start painting!
  • Brief lunch field trip to Lake Ponchartrain
  • Quick dinner at Camp Hope
  • Presentation on Charity Hospital and Katrina, by Dr. Fred Lopez at Tulane University (huge highlight for many of us on the trip)

A Reflection By Cheyenne Mendes

Today, the group listened to Dr. Fred Lopez’s perspective on his experience with Hurricane Katrina. He is a doctor who was part of the staff running Charity Hospital the Sunday before the storm hit in New Orleans. It was not only amazing to hear him speak on behalf of his experience with the flooding, the storm, and the political issues surrounding the evacuation of the patients in the hospital, but also,┬áto see the pictures that accompanied and illustrated the story clearly.

The one question that was circling my mind throughout Dr. Lopez’s presentation was why patients in a hospital were not considered to be evacuated sooner than the five days it took to start the evacuations? Did the government not know that a HOSPITAL would not have some patients in it? It boggles my mind thinking of how a hospital can maintain taking sufficient care of so many people without electricity and plumbing and no rotated staff. Would the wait for being evacuated been longer if it weren’t for CNN being able to tape the inside conditions of the hospital? If CNN was able to hear about it and get in, then shouldn’t the government be able to hear about it and get in? It’s understandable that the government and other aids had to deal with many situations and people, but it’s frustrating to think that a hospital was not touched for five days.

Aside from the horror of people being stranded following the flooding from the result of broken levees after Katrina, hearing Dr.Lopez reminded me of the humanity in some people. I can only imagine the unity felt during and after Katrina, as people all faced the destruction. From patients reaching out to other patients for a tender touch of reassurance or whether a doctor goes out of their way to perform a surgery with no electricity in the middle of an evacuation, people banded together to help and reassure one another that it was going to be okay. The compassion thst some people had was undeniable and ultimately, in my opinion, part of what motivated people to keep looking towards another day.


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