i returned to St. Bernard Parish this morning to find residents arriving home, emptying car trunks, and sitting on their porches. to my surprise, there are just a small number of generators humming in lower St. Bernard, a sign that most other areas have their power restored. i heard that 80% of the parish's power will be restored by tomorrow.
overall, the parish looks unaffected by hurricane Gustav. crews have been clearing fallen trees from the main roads, but even in lower st. bernard, i couldn't find major obstacles except for a temporary levee on Bayou Rd. heading into Verret. also, sheriffs are blocking entrance--except for residents of these specific areas--into Reggio, Wood Lake, Delacroix, Alluvial City, Yscloskey, Shell Beach, and Hopedale. i was unable to reach these areas to survey. the sheriffs told me most people in these areas have not returned and therefore, according to them, there is no reason for me to enter the area. many residents were passing through to reach their homes, though. there was a large, empty national guard truck setting the backdrop. i turned around without arguing.
fortunately, so many people are returning today and should be able to get by with assistance from neighbors and friends. i brought ice to a few residents, but since stores and gas stations are opening today and tomorrow now with the power restored, emergency relief aid seems unneeded in most parts of St. Bernard Parish. Winn-Dixie, one of two large supermarkets in St. Bernard, opened today at noon. there were food and beer delivery trucks in front of almost every gas station and convenience store i saw on my drive through the parish.
i talked to pastor Larry of the Adullam Christian Fellowship Church in Arabi while volunteers served up free hot meals and distributed free ice to residents in the parking lot off of St. Bernard Highway. he gave me the contact information to a church in Thibodaux, Louisiana, just north of Houma, where they are putting a call out for chainsaws and anyone with arborist or basic tree-cutting skills to volunteer clearing trees in the Terrebonne Parish area. Trees are making roads impassable in Terrebonne, preventing relief aid groups from reaching towns like Cocodrie and Dulac.
please contact HOPE/rebirth if you are interested in volunteering and have a chainsaw & arborist skills. this is apparently what is most needed out of volunteers right now.