Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Orleans still gutting homes

Ken Ringle has a descriptive story in The Washington Post:

You want to get as much air moving through there as possible, and also let in light, because by this time you're usually up to your knees in leaking, mold-covered debris, often still soggy 11 months after the storm, and God only knows what you'll uncover there in the rank and reeking darkness. The occasional rat isn't really a problem, nor are the cellphone-size roaches or the spiders as big as your face mask. And though they're still finding bodies here, that's rare and less disturbing than you might think.

What's really unnerving are those acrid objects you're standing among -- slimy, plastic-wrapped bundles of bed linens and Christmas decorations and rotting rhinestone shoes; powdery photo albums with peeling pictures of parents and grandchildren; anniversary mementos, rosaries, china figurines and hemorrhoid medication: all the heartbreaking and very private detritus of somebody's shattered life. You're eerily reminded constantly that it's none of your business. But if you're gutting houses in New Orleans, it becomes not only your business, but your daily life.

You feel like a mortician washing a corpse. You try to do it with both efficiency and respect.

More Hurricane Katrina stories are featured in The Washington Post's Gulf Coast Hurricane section.

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