Sunday, March 19, 2006

Today I did "home improvement," which meant that, along with four other Williams students and a class of '75 Williams alum and her daughter, we swept the main hall where we eat, and swept and vacuumed the stairs that go to the loft where we sleep. That occupied most of the morning. This is because there was a lot of dirt, and also because we had some issues with the vacuums (both of them) pushing air out instead of sucking it in. (We took it apart and put it back together and then it worked.)

After a lunch of PB&J, we went to the grocery store, where we bought a tremendous amount of food very quickly. This is because we were buying about 10 different things, just in tremendous quantities. We got 100 pounds of potatoes, a whole box of green peppers, 6 bottles of A1 sauce, and 50 T-bone steaks, for example. This is because the organization has been saving up its food money by scrimping on meals for the past few weeks, so that they could spend a lot on this dinner and have a really good meal.

I helped to wrap up the potatoes and corn in tinfoil to grill, chopped peppers and onions, and helped smash peanuts and cut canned pineapple for ice cream sundae toppings.

The bad thing about this fancy meal is that I didn't go to it, because my parents took me out to dinner. (They have been here since Wednesday, working with another nonprofit volunteer organization -- the Lutherans instead of the Methodists.) First we drove around on the road right next to the beach, and looked at the destruction.

Basically the first few floors of everything are rubble. They are either the bare iron bars of the framework because everything has been cleared out, or they are reinforced concrete hanging by the reinforcing bars. The bottom floors of everything are grey and broken. There were some very old homes on the water, and some of them are just completely gone -- there is a concrete slab left, and you have to guess that there was a house there -- and in other cases the top floor and the columns are still there and the inside is all washed out and grey.

All this rubble washed into the ocean, so there is all this junk in the ocean. You can't put your boat in because you might hit something, either sunken or floating just below the surface. They have these special machines that drive in the water and scoop up the junk onto the beach. So there are these big piles of junk by the waterline that have been scooped out of the ocean.

There was this five-story casino that floated because there are some rules about what can be built on land and what can't (woo hoo, marine policy!). In the hurricane it got washed out of the water, across the highway, and toppled onto its side. A five-story building! Now it just looks like a gigantic pile of rubble, with the floors perpendicular to the ground instead of parallel to it.

That whole road along the beach was a thriving place for business. Now all the buildings are either washed away, reduced to rubble, or cleared out. There was a whole strip mall that is ruined, motels that just look like floors and floors of empty matchboxes, etc. And it goes on for the whole coastline.

On the bright side, we had a nice dinner at a Japanese place. Tomorrow I will do trees. It will be most excellent.

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