It's been a long day working in the kitchen here (helping to prepare two meals, and cleaning up after one), but it was definitely a productive and rewarding one.
Emergency communities serves 3 meals a day to the residents here. They also operate a free laundromat, library, tool exchange, and Internet center. The volunteers (some from Americorps, others just concerned folks like us) also do work off-site helping with the gutting and rebuilding efforts.
We've talked to a few of the residents here, along with the volunteers (some who have been here several months), and there's a mixture of anger, frustration, hope and determination. Buras was mainly a fishing community and the residents here lost their homes and livelihoods. We're told that the storm surge was 35 feet high, and so the whole town, which sits below sea level, was completely immersed during Katrina. For most, all that remains of their homes is the concrete slabs of the foundations.
One resident talked of the real possibility that a unique culture, not just a community could be lost. The people of Buras knew how to live off the bayous, and that lifestyle is definitely being threatened by the slow recovery. Why has it been so slow -- that's a tough question and the answer appears to be pretty complicated. I'm still trying to figure it out based on the stories I'm hearing. Certainly, the scale of the devastation is a major factor. There's no doubt the people here are passionate about getting their community back.