CLINTON — Four Clinton residents representing the Sisters of St. Francis traveled to New Orleans in November to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina rebuild.
Although eight years have passed since the storm put most of New Orleans under water, there are still families without homes. St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit organization that collaborates the rebuilding of homes, reports many residents tried to rebuild their own homes but 65 percent became victims of contractor fraud.
One week each year SBP holds “Nuns Build” and invites up to 100 Sisters or members of their community to lend a hand in the rebuilding. Following a blessing at The Canticle and gifts of tools, Gabriela Egging, Amanda Eberhart, Lou Egging and Julie Ferraro departed for a week of reconstructing the home of a retired US Air Force veteran born and raised in New Orleans.
Evenings in New Orleans were spent socializing with other congregations of Sisters and volunteers. Meals were provided by donors and a movie was shown, “We Shall Not Be Moved: The Catholic Sisters of New Orleans,” a documentary of all the local congregations of Sisters impacted by Hurricane Katrina and the effects of the flooding.
But for Ferraro, who was returning to New Orleans after nine years, something was missing: “I first visited New Orleans in 2004. The lifestyle was very laid back, bars open 24 hours a day, French Quarter humming with tourists. Returning this year for Nuns Build, I saw a vast difference. While the French Market still offers vendors a place to sell their wares, there is still the sense that “something isn’t quite right” in the city. Just looking down the street where we were working confirmed this. I can guess, by the number of vacant lots, that it was either a subdivision which was started and never finished because of the flooding, or the other houses were completely wiped out.”
With 130 families on the SBP waiting list, Ferraro is making plans for Nov. 17, 2014, the next “Nuns Build.”