The second that it really hit me that I was in New Orleans was when I saw the large X (the bottom number is an indicator of the number of dead bodies found in the building) on the wall of the place we are staying in, an old school converted into a place for volunteers to live (see my picture). After hurricane Katrina, search units checked abandoned houses to see if their were any dead bodies inside. Although there is controversy about the effectiveness of the search units, the Xs are a reminder of the destruction that devastated this area. Everywhere I looked I see the scars that Katrina left behind. People living in tents under the I-10 overpass bridge (see picture), FEMA trailers and trash are those constant reminders. But there are many signs of recovery, including the numbers of people that are down here to help repair the area.
As for me, today I spent most of my time downtown in the French Quarter. Had many firsts including my first shot of Bourbon, my first encounter with a Voodoo Priestess in her temple and my first Beigent (a French doughnut). Downtown is just dripping with culture, and I can't wait to go back but I am really exited about our first day of Habitat tomorrow. More to come... ~Katie G.~