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It’s the Little Things October 29, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Ramblings, Relief Work, Uncategorized.
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It’s the little things that are going to send me over the edge. For example, the other morning I headed over to the Rec Center where we house volunteers to hand out the job order for the day. The teams are supposed to up and ready to load tools by 8:00 AM. Well, it was 7:45 AM and I wasn’t seeing any sort of activity around the place except for a few gecko’s running around in search of their breakfast. When I walked in to the bunk room, everyone was fast asleep. So I stomped around a little bit and got the team leader to get her crew in to action. I don’t think anyone got a shower or much of a breakfast, but they were ready in 15 minutes.

So after sending them on their way, I stopped by the office to try to print a couple of forms. Since I can’t get my computer hooked up to the network printer, I did my usual routine of emailing the documents to myself, logging in to my co-worker’s computer, logging in to my email, downloading the documents, sending them to the printer, logging out of my email, and logging off from the computer.

Then I decided to head down the bayou to the job site to see how things were going. It was controlled chaos, but things were getting done. Then I found out that the homeowners, the sweetest, most adorable, elderly couple you could ever meet, still had about 4 inches of mud in their shop building. Since we had a few extra hands I decided I’d head back up the bayou and load up a few extra shovels and a wheel barrow and other miscellenous tools needed to muck the place out.

I went to the driver’s side door of my truck only to remember that the lock on that side is broken. OK, no problem, head over to the passenger side. Alright, now it’s time to listen to a little Zydeco on the Rajun Cajun radio station during my 15 minute trip up the bayou. As I’m singing along to some song about a mean old Cajun woman, I notice that the Check Engine light has come on and I’m watching the needle for the heat gauge zoom to H. OK, well, I’m just pulling in at the tool shed and surely there’s got to be some anti-freeze in there since there’s just about everything else under the sun in there. OK, no anti-freeze. Well, I’ll head back down the bayou in my car to the auto parts store. Grab some anti-freeze, head back up the bayou, and fill up the coolant tank. Then I check the oil and it’s a little low, but we do have some oil in the shed. So I set the bottle down on the seat for a second only to realize that the bottle is leaking. Alright, no problem, I’ve got a towel I can throw on the seat.

Ok, now I can load up the tools and I’m ready to head back down the bayou to the work site. Walk to the driver’s side only to remember the lock is broken. Opps, almost out of gas. No problem, I’ll head up the bayou to Marty J’s (part truck stop, part convenience store, part restaurant, part liquor store, part casino, and all around landmark for navigation–“head up the bayou past Marty Js”, “head down the bayou and hang a left at Marty Js”, etc.). I walk in, hand the clerk the donated gift card for miscellenous operational purchases, and ask for $60 worth of fuel. Sorry, the card is denied. Of course, I’ve just used it at the auto parts store and I’m starting to think we might only be able to make one purchase on it a day. Why…I don’t know, but one day it will work fine, later it will get denied, and then the next day it will work fine again. So, I pay cash for enough gas to get me back to the work site and back. I pump the gas, go to the driver’s side to get back in. Yep, the lock is still broken. That’s pretty much a good representation how every minute of my day goes around here.

On a positive note, I did get to do a little kayaking on Sunday. Wish I’d had more time, but I look forward to some extended paddling trips throughout the year.

For pictures from Week 6, click here.


A Week to Forget October 20, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Relief Work.
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As you can see from the picture, I’ve had some new neighbors during the last couple of days. All I can say is that Louisiana is one amazing, albeit rather strange, place.


I guess the best thing to say about the past week is that it’s over. Lot’s of crazy stuff went on including a very helpful mold remediation class, followed by an “interesting” history lesson from a Native American Chief, a 45 minute one-way trip to our warehouse only to realize the key I was given didn’t work, a second trip to the warehouse only to realize the place is in pretty rough shape due to numerous missing sheets of tin from the roof and years of neglect, another 45 minute one-way trip to pick up distribution supplies only to realize it was actually 7 pallets worth of stuff and we only had my work pickup and another small truck, numerous rescheduled work assignments due to homeowners waiting on FEMA and, well, let’s just say that those experiences were pretty good in comparison to the other things that happened during the week. And to top it all off, I finally got to see my first Michigan game since I got here and my boys got slaughtered.


On a positive note, I did get to see a most beautiful sunset tonight. Mister Mike hooked up a trailer behind his 4-wheeler and took Mark, Debbie (our new Construction and Office Managers), and me out to the levee behind his house. It was incredible.


For more Week 5 pictures, click here.

Welcome Ja”cub”! October 13, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Big Fun on the Bayou, Family, Relief Work.
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A big welcome to my newest grand nephew, Jacob Michael, weighing in at 8 lbs. 13 oz., born October 5th. Can’t wait to meet the little guy in person when I head to Chicago for his Aunt Shannon’s wedding in November.

Well another week of tarping, gutting, general chaos and confusion has passed. We have two new teams of AmeriCorp volunteers, Wolf 2 and Western New York, here with us on the bayou for a few weeks. They hit the ground running and have been doing a great job.

Two of our volunteers, George and Bruce, who have been most helpful left Friday. Every time I spill something, I will remember George. And every time something goes wrong with my motorhome, I will remember Bruce.

We took the weekend off and on Saturday enjoyed some good food, great music, and learned a lot about the importance of saving the wetlands at the Voice of the Wetlands festival in Houma. This morning, after a quick run (which actually is about a 2 1/2 hour round trip) to Home Depot for an additional 216 slats, I headed off for an afternoon of R&R in New Orleans.

Alright my friends, sorry for the short post, but it’s time to hit the sack so I’m ready for a new day of fun-filled adventure on the bayou. For some pictures of the Wetlands festival, click here. For pictures from Week 3, click here, and for Week 4, click here.

Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire October 4, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Hurricanes, Relief Work.


I’m sitting in my motor home right now next to the Chauvin Gym, getting about half a bar of Internet signal from someones unsecured network, listening to a band playing Great Balls of Fire at a wedding reception I just left. I have no idea who the lucky couple is, but they sure know how to throw a party, and the father of the bride was kind enough to invite the volunteers to the bash.

Hard to believe that less than 6 hours ago I was down the bayou shoveling mud, and what I think may have been sewage, out of the home of an incredibly sweet couple. He’s 82, she’s 78, and they’ve had to do this 6 times since they built the place in 1972. It’s not a pretty sight, and well, I’m just not sure how to accurately describe the smell. Use your imagination. The place got about 3 feet of water, been closed up for the past 3 weeks, and we were the first team to go in.

Our AmeriCorp team that’s been here for the last two weeks is leaving tomorrow morning and I will miss them terribly. What a great bunch of hardworking kids. We’ve got two more teams coming in Sunday and I’m sure I’ll come to grow quite fond of them too, but these guys will always have a special place in my heart.

More to come, but it’s late and it’s going to be a long day of gutting tomorrow. In the meantime, take a look at a few pictures from week 2 on the bayou here. Hoping I can fall asleep to the band seranading me to the sounds of Play That Funky Music White Boy…