Friday, December 28, 2007


I met Daniel and his wife Wetahanna on Tolendano Street in the city of New Orleans today. I felt drawn to his street when I saw all of the "affordable housing" that was sitting empty in their neighborhood. Which is one block from C.J. Peete. Daniel and 2 other neighbors are the only ones on his block trying to rebuild. The other properties on the block are owned by a local church (the brick building next store which has structural damage, which is worrying for Daniel and his wife as their children play in the driveway and the brick apartment building is right next to his house. Daniel by the way, takes care of the neighboring property to keep it looking as clean and orderly as possible.

Daniel is doing almost all of the carpentry work. He had a cousin who was an electrician, do the electrical, and as so many thousands have experienced in the rebuilding process, the electrician never finished the job...

Daniel tells me that he suffers from head colds a lot now. He heard that one of the symptoms is an increase in head allergies., His whole family is being affected by the formaldehyde levels in the FEMA trailer. He is not out running his business right now because he needs to get his wife and three children (two are 19 month twins, one is a 14 year old girl) out of the toxic trailer. All 5 of them live in the FEMA trailer you see in the slideshow.

Daniel has his own business, he has his own flatbed truck (for hauling), but his says that he doesn't want to be out on the roads exhausted after working full time on his house and rebuilding it. And he really needs to get his wife and children out of the toxic FEMA trailer. And he needs to work to support his family. Daniel is also working on having "affordable housing available" as this house has 3 apartments in it, once his family gets moved back into their home. he has applied with the Road Home to be put on the apartment search listings for potential renters, and will accept Section 8 vouchers. It's funny how things work out - I stop to photograph a street because of all of the empty "affordable" housing sitting there and meet a man who is trying to do something about it. He even spoke of his dream of buying the building next store and leaving 2 of the apartments vacant for people who are "transitioning" who need help to get on their feet. his idea is that they would need to be working to stay there and they could stay rent free for 2-3 months until they got on their feet. Then he would take in new groups of people. Rotating in those who are trying to get on their feet and rotating out into the community, those who are on their feet and ready to get their own places. His eyes light up as he tells of his dream. He also tells us of how he took care of his children for Christmas but even more important he tried to help out other children. He spoke of working parents who can't afford shoes for their kids and their struggles to survive to take care of their children. He and Wetahanna are good people.

If your reading this posting and you are living in New Orleans or Baton Rouge or are coming down to volunteer, and you have some sheet rock and finishing experience - he is a good man who could use a good deed. Here's my thoughts on Daniel having a few planetary brothers and sisters he has never met come and help him would go far, he is a man who shoulders much responsibility for his family and others with integrity. The end of his Katrina-levee failure story could end with a good deed at the end for he and his family...

Contact your Planetary Sister by e-mail and I will put you in touch with Daniel. This is a time sensitive project. Any volunteers would need to be helping during the next 2 weeks - today is December 29, 2007. I would say if you are going to respond, then getting on the site before the 10th of January would be great.

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