Still rebuilding in New Orleans
Mount Olive Church mission member (from left) Turner Lynch, 18, of Waukesha, Molly Dobberke, 22, Lauren Shuda, 21, and Travis Anderson, 25, all from Mukwonago, stop for a photo in the French Quarter in New Orleans during a recent mission trip to help rebuild homes damaged in Hurricane Katrina. Photo by: Submitted photo
Mount Olive mission group lends hand
It's been more than seven years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, yet there are some areas where it looks like the hurricane hit just yesterday. So a small mission group from Mount Olive Church started 2013 by spending a couple of weeks in New Orleans caulking windows, scraping paint, spackling, siding houses and planting trees and other crops.
It was the first time Molly Dobberke, 22, had been to New Orleans, and in the grand scheme of things caulking didn't seem like much, given what work remained.
"It was kind of shocking how much work there is still yet to be done," said Dobberke. Many houses are still marked by an X from the search after the hurricane swept through.
Dobberke, along with Travis Anderson, 25, and Lauren Shuda, 21, of Mukwonago and Turner Lynch, 18, of Waukesha worked with several groups in the New Orleans area to continue the long process of rebuilding.
The St. Bernard Project has rebuilt about 450 homes in the past seven years using all volunteer power from various groups, explained Dobberke. However, there are about 150 homes that still need work. Youth Rebuilding New Orleans has been working with the Arc of Greater New Orleans, planting trees and other crops.
The group spent five days working, but "there was so much more we could do," said Dobberke.
They met a homeowner, Sandy, who lost everything in the hurricane. She and her husband started rebuilding, but her husband died before they could finish. The process has been fraught with setbacks. They used drywall they later learned was contaminated and had to be torn out. As the drywall was torn out, they discovered termites in the framing of the house.
"I can't imagine how hard it was for her to see all their work torn down," Dobberke said. "Sandy was incredibly gracious. It makes you wonder what you would have done."
Dobberke was struck by the gratitude of everyone they helped.
"I think it's difficult to come back from a natural disaster like that," Dobberke added. "The people were incredibly grateful."
Anderson went on the trip mainly because his friends were going. This was his second mission trip but his first to New Orleans. He didn't know what to expect.
"It seemed like they had made a lot of progress, but you could tell there was a lot to be done," Anderson explained. "What surprised me was the strength of the community. In certain parts of New Orleans you couldn't tell there was a hurricane that came through, while in other parts you could tell there was some serious damage."
Doing landscape work with Arc of Greater New Orleans, they worked alongside older people with mental disabilities, which he admired.
"I was really impressed with the enthusiasm of everyone we were with," Anderson said. "Everyone was enthused to work harder and see what else we could do."
For Dobberke the mission trip was a great experience, spiritually, faithwise and in learning what people can do.
"The people we worked with were all fantastic," Dobberke added. "What struck me was the great sense of community and resilience to rebuild, which is an amazing thing."
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