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Student tells what’s up in Louisiana, Mississippi after Spring Break trip

My friend Anthony and I spent this past week interacting with a few families from different social classes, all of which were located in neighborhoods that were severely affected by hurricane Katrina, to observe what the differences were in the recovery process. What we noticed was that the poor seem substantially behind in the recovery process, while the more affluent citizens are working as hard as they can to rebuild. It is possible that I am gradually becoming more and more biased at perceiving things sociologically because of a few sociology classes I have and am taking, although what I am saying is becoming nothing more than common knowledge to the general public in the south. Regardless of social class, if you lived near the Gulf of Mexico, you were affected by the storm. Virtually everything along the Gulf was destroyed. Now nearly six months after the storm, it appears that the recovery process has barely begun. For the first half of our trip, we worked in a wealthy neighborhood located on a golf course about a half-mile from the Gulf of Mexico. About one third of the families in this particular neighborhood have returned and begun to rebuild. The rest are still battling with insurance companies over how much money they should receive. Most of the houses in this neighborhood had been gutted and sprayed with mold killer. Most of the people seemed optimistic and excited about the rebuilding process. We worked with one particular elderly couple, Paul and Patsy, who had Anthony and I spread sand over their yard so Paul could plant new grass. Their house has already been completely refinished except for the yard.Paul and Patsy were able to get ahead of all their neighbors because one of their relatives worked for the FBI. His relative let him go to his house before everyone was officially allowed to. Their neighbors rented this handy lift, which I’m sure would have cost a large sum, so he wouldn’t have to use a ladder to re-side the house and clean out his gutters. When I asked these families what their observation was of post-Katrina clean up, they told me that most people are doing their best to gather whatever resources they have to begin rebuilding. What I found interesting was that several of the families in this area were particularly frustrated with what they called “welfare people,” pointing to those who are just using this portion of their lives to feed off the system – eating at the free Katrina kitchens and not working or attempting to find a job. They said these people were not rebuilding and won’t rebuild until the government just hands them everything. For the second half of our trip we ventured into a more lower-class region of Mississippi to observe the rebuilding process. Surprisingly, we still found a lot of optimism and gratefulness among these more poor citizens. We talked to several families who were just thankful that things were not any worse than they were. For the most part, the majority of the poorer families have not come back. For any of them who are back, they are working hard to reclaim their neighborhoods. We worked on the house of one particular lady who was unable to get out before the storm came. She and her grandson stored a lot of food and water in the attic and waited out the storm. Luckily, the waters remained below the attic of her house. She told us that every day is a blessing. She is back to driving the local school bus and spending time with her family. At her house, we applied mold killer to the interior wood frame. She is several months from moving back in. The process of rebuilding in the Gulf has barely begun. Clearly the more affluent families are beginning the move back into their houses, whereas the lower-class citizens are struggling to find the resources to even begin to do anything. Some of the poor citizens have had the opportunity to live in FEMA trailers, while others have had great difficulty in getting a trailer. The trailers are distributed by the government. There are several soup kitchens located throughout the regions in the Gulf that offer free food. All of the relief organizations are desperate for volunteers and looking for full time summer help.

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