Everyone has had that one traveling experience that changed them. Whether good or bad, it was worth being remembered. My memorable trip started on June 3, 2006 and ended on June 10, 2006.
Some friends from my old youth group and I left extremely early in the morning for a fourteen hour car ride from Tipp City, Ohio to Pass Christian, Mississippi. We were off to help rebuild after Katrina. It was almost a year after the disaster, but there was still much to be done.
I don’t think any of us were prepared for what we were going to see. When we did arrive, I was right. None of us were prepared for what was there — Almost nothing.
They told us that we would be staying on the beach. Turns out, the beach was about two miles from the water. It had all blown up to where we were staying.
Where we pitched our tents, there used to be a five star hotel. No more. Completely gone.
I remember looking out at the water thinking, ‘How could something so beautiful cause something so horrible?’ It was almost surreal. We spent our days working in the tent where people could get food and clothes and our nights sitting on the beach being grateful for the things we had back home knowing that we took a lot of them for granted. About six days into our trip, we got a break from our duties and were free to do what we wanted for the day.
None of us were exactly sure what we were going to do. We decided to spend our day in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was about a forty minute car ride from where we were. I was so excited.
My friend and I talked the whole way about what we thought New Orleans was going to be like. He had his opinions and I had mine. When we arrived, it was pretty much rebuilt.
Then, we found out that was just the downtown area. We drove past Bourbon Street where Mardi Gras is held. I don’t know how they do anything on that street — It’s so narrow. The French Quarters was my all time favorite place to be. All of the buildings were antique looking and all so beautiful. Not to mention, the food in New Orleans is amazing. It’s so festive and the flavors are phenomenal! Then, came the time we dreaded the most. They showed us the dam that broke when the waters was too much. They are attempting to rebuild it but from what I’ve heard, it might not be strong enough to hold if another strong hurricane like Katrina were to come through. Then, we drove into the Ninth Ward. That’s where most of the destruction and the loss of life occurred. Houses were torn apart. Cars were flipped over. There was spray paint on the house to say if there were any survivors or not. I couldn’t believe how bad it was and how slow the rebuilding process because it was one of the poorest sections in the city. The thing that blew my mind the most was there was a house on top of a car. That was not normal for me at all. It was that powerful. I was amazed.
The biggest thing I learned on this trip was that you can’t take anything for granted because it can all be ripped out from under you in a moment. I got a call from a friend of mine back home while I was down there, and she told me that she had her baby and that she was bringing him home the next day. That made me start thinking. These people had no home. Where were they taking their babies? I couldn’t believe how hopeful they were and how they knew that one day everything was going to be normal. What is normal after that? Every person I talked to had this attitude. How? Coming home was the hardest part of this whole experience. I really miss it. I look at the pictures, and I go back. I honestly wouldn’t mind going back down there in the near future. I want to see how things are coming along and find out what ‘normal’ is for these people. I would recommend if you ever get the chance to go, then you should take it. It’s trip that you won’t regret and won’t too soon forget.
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