Another house has come down in our neighborhood. This one, right across the street from our own vacant property and FEMA travel trailer, was crushed in record time.
I went to work on Friday morning, it was there.
I came home Friday evening, it was not.
The really odd thing about it is that earlier this week, someone had decided to gut the house. We still don’t know who or why, only that a van full of eager young people rolled up early one morning and started to empty the house of all its non-structural elements.
There are a lot of folks coming to New Orleans to help us recover from Hurricane Katrina. Lots of Texas license plates on the roads nowadays, and lots of Mexicans seeking work as day labor hanging around the parking lots of local home-improvement stores.
And lots of volunteers, too. Religious groups sending young and old help, and college students using their breaks to help us here rather than boosting the beer economy of seaside towns. And why not? Hey, it’s just as hot here as on the beaches in Florida.
We certainly appreciate all they are doing. But in this case, somebody got their wires crossed. My neighbors decided they would not return to New Orleans months ago as soon as their two children settled into their new high school. They told me a long time ago that they planned to demolish and sell the land.
So another neighbor of ours, who just happened to go by the house the other morning, was surprised to seen the young people swarming like ants through the doomed house, building a pile of debris at the curb. He called our former neighbor now settled several states away to ask, “Are you still planning to demolish?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
Our alert neighbor went over to tell the young-uns to decamp, because there’s no point in gutting a house that you’re going to smash with a wrecking ball anyway.
When I arrived back at the trailer that evening, there was a pile at least 6 feet high in front of the house. Oh, and just in case I’d forgotten what a refrigerator full of rotting food looks and smells like, the appliances placed on the sidewalk were a potent and pungent reminder.
All of which is just another day in the flood-ravaged parts of post-K New Orleans: dirt, debris, stink and demolition.
Oh, and of course, neighbors that look out for each other--even those that live across town, or across America. Our houses are trashed, our belongings ruined, our pretty neighborhood littered with trash and weeds, but our sense of community stands tall, high above any flood waters could ever reach.