Wendee Holtcamp
Photography: New Orleans

I spent two days in New Orleans working with Camp Restore, a church that is working with community members to help restore homes and yards and neighborhoods. People come from all over the United States to stay at the Prince of Peace church in St. Bernard Parish, which they have renovated into a camp for the "mission workers." There are bunk beds and showers and a mess hall.

The first day, I worked along Bundy Street right across from the church in a neighborhood called Evangeline Oaks. A tangled growth of weeds and grass had overgrown the neighborhood entryway and trash and limbs that had not been cleaned since Katrina were scattered on the ground. The homes along the road were mostly abandoned, and their lawns had grown up, some to several feet high. The city or county had just started fining homeowners $100 a day if they don't maintain their lawns... even if they are not there to keep it up! All of the homes were gutted. We cleaned up this area, replanted flowers on the neighborhood sign, and made it look like a place that was alive again.

What struck me this first day was finding -- underneath all the overgrown grass and roots -- "Meals Ready to Eat" that had been airdropped to the residents during Katrina. It reminded me of the human side of the tragedy; the reality of these people stuck in their homes with no food, scared, helpless, having lost everything they own, and in some cases dying.

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A shot of the sidewalk on Bundy before cleaning.

This yard was completely overgrown!

Cleaning up the yard.

Every home in New Orleans is marked with these Xs that show how many bodies were found...

Packets of Meals Ready to Eat along with a baby shoe.

Working on replanting the Evangeline Oaks entry sign.

Rose always has a joyful smile!

This is the same yard as in photo 2 above!

The Evangeline Oaks sign after planting flowers and repainting.

Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

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