While researching for our week-long trip to NOLA, I was really trying to find things to do that are a little off the beaten path, less touristy. And a tour of the area affected by Katrina was definitely on the to-do list. I came across this website: http://lowernine.org (as indicated on their website: lowernine.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to the long-term recovery of New Orleans’ historic Lower Ninth Ward from Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches of 2005). I emailed them asking if they gave tours. I got an email right away from someone called Laura Paul. A few more clicks, and I found out she was the Executive Director. She said she could give us a tour, we confirmed details with her with a few more emails. I asked if the tours cost anything, she said no, I asked how much people usually donate in exchange for a tour, she said whatever we liked. In the spirit of their '$365 from 365 people' campaign, I made an online donation in this amount before I left on the trip. Laura picked us up at our hotel located just outside the south-west end of the French Quarter, at the exact time she said she would. We were four adults and she showed up in a big pickup truck so the ride was pretty comfortable. We ended up spending 3 hours with her. She was amazing, as was the tour. The things she taught us were anywhere from terrifying, to astonishing, to heartwarming. She is so hardworking, humble, simple, well-versed, well-informed, passionate like no one else I've ever met. She took us to all the four corners of the lower ninth ward, to George's house, and we even stopped in at her own house. She explained exactly how the water entered the area, how people lived before this flood and how the area was, how houses are built in the area, the current challenges overall, the progress and successes, the work being done in the community, how she ended up doing what she's doing, what the organization is doing and how, how volunteering with them works. On the way to and from the lower ninth ward, she briefed us on how the city is laid out, local history and things we saw. She even dropped us off at our next destination, at her offering. I cannot speak highly enough about this experience.
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