Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where to begin...

It's proving impossible for me to blog while in the thick of things. Especially a day like Saturday. And quite possibly today and tomorrow.

Saturday morning, an ear infection and other circumstances kept half of the six Washington University students from the volunteer set up.

We started with 38 people out in the field. It included a combination of residents, local college students from Loyola University and Tulane University, a team of college students from East Texas Baptist University. About a half-dozen students joined in later in the morning from St. Martin's Episcopal High School, helping with both mapping and data entry.

Kelley and Mary-Alice, some of the local college students, stayed behind in the office to help with preparing and finalizing the afternoon assignments. We had also had morning help from one of NENA design team staff, who provided the extra preparation capacity we needed.

A local resident - who is in her early seventies - seemed to take part in more mapping than anyone else. Whenever she'd return with a walking partner, she'd sit quietly at a table. When motion was gathering for another group to go out, she'd be ready to go. I walked with her at the end of the day, covering an area which turned out to be where she owned property. She knew a lot about the people who lived at addresses we covered.

The mapping and outreach covered about 60% of the Lower Ninth yesterday. In total, we've covered all but the Holy Cross area. So there's about 25% of the Lower Ninth unfinished.

Which brings me to today....

- The East Texas Baptist group's in town through Monday, and are offering to help finish.

- I've committed to stay in town another day so we have a chance to finish.

- Weather reports for Monday are indicating a chance of thunderstorms, starting this evening.

- The ETB group is now finishing other work they were scheduled to do today, and now it looks like they could help get started with the mapping in a couple hours this while there's still sunlight. If it doesn't rain. And other logistical details.

- If it rains on Monday, we're considering how we can still make progress.

Based on our mapping rate this weekend, we could finish the Lower Ninth in a half day with about two dozen people. The ETB team has 10 people. Counting me, we could get 2-3 others. I think we'd finish mapping if we had a whole day on Monday. But the most recent 600-mile doppler radar shows rain heading our way now....


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