If you are coming to Central St. Matthew as part of a recovery team please check out the information below. You will find pre-arrival information which is sent to each group arriving, directions to the church, and answers to some frequently asked questions. You will also find a gallery of pictures of the recovery team facilities at Central St. Matthew.
The members of Central St. Matthew United Church of Christ send you a most hearty greeting. We are excited that you are coming to New Orleans to volunteer your time and efforts in re-building and bringing hope to a recovering city. We hope that this experience will be a memorable and rewarding one for you. The following information is sent to help you with your stay. All work related information and anything concerning tools or equipment needed should be coming to you from the recovery agency with which you are partnered.
A. Maps and Directions
Please carefully route your trip to New Orleans to avoid detours, construction delays, and road changes. When you are close to the city whether you are coming from the east or the west, you will be on Interstate 10. Exiting the interstate and getting on S. Carrollton is the hardest. We have prepared written directions on how to exit I-10 coming from Baton Rouge, Hammond, or Slidell. We will email/send these directions to you.
We ask that you call your contact person when you are approximately 1&1/2 hours outside of New Orleans. (Baton Rouge, Hammond or Slidell)
If you need any assistance en route, please do not hesitate to call your contact person.
B. Arrival Instructions
It is very important that you plan to arrive before 8:00 p.m. We need to open the church building and want to greet you. You will be given a short tour of the building so you will know where the sleeping, eating and restroom areas are located. There will also be a brief orientation to our facilities.
Please try to have your group arrive about the same time. If you are not able to do so, our volunteer will be available to let the first arrivals in, and then those arrivals will be responsible for letting the rest of the group into the church. An orientation will be set for a time after everyone has arrived. Please inform your contact person if you will be arriving at different times.
If anyone in your group wants to arrive on an earlier date or stay longer then the scheduled days, they MUST arrange it with the CONTACT PERSON FROM CENTRAL ST. MATTHEW before their arrival.
We ask that the payment for your stay be given to the person who is greeting you and that it be one check.
C. Lists of things to bring.
1. Pillow, blankets, sheets or sleeping bag. Bunk beds with regular mattresses (not air
mattresses) are provided.
2. Personal items:
Hair dryers, soap, towels.
There is a washing machine and dryer provided for your use; however, we do not provide
An extra pair of shoes or boots. You will not want to wear your work shoes when not in the
work area. We suggest that you leave a clean pair of shoes and a plastic bag in the car
traveling to the work site. When returning, if you take off your shoes and put them
in the plastic bag, you will not be tracking mold and other contaminants into your car.
Group or personal first aid kit.
3. Food: Plan to bring food or purchase groceries after you arrive. There are two major grocery stores in the area and drug stores – virtually all services are now available in the city and in the vicinity of the church. You will want to have plenty of bottled water to take with you to your work site.
We have a very limited supply of staples which you are welcome to use. Check the cabinets before you shop for groceries.
Our church has a policy of no alcohol in the church building or on the grounds. Please respect our church home.
Central St. Matthew is not set up to receive donations of clothing, blankets, books, or other material things. Please do not bring these types of things with you unless you have been in touch with someone who will be receiving the items. We appreciate the thought behind such donations but we do not have any outlet to see that they get to those who can use them.
E. Other Groups in Building
Several tenants lease space at our Carrollton Campus, where you will be housed. While your group is staying with us, you will have priority over common areas such as the lounge, eating room, and the showers. You will have exclusive use of the bunk rooms. On occasion, the community theater might have rehearsals or performances during your stay. In this case, the theater makes use of the kitchen for concessions. Arrangements will be made by Central St. Matthew so that you may still access your food.
There is a phone in the lounge at Central St. Matthew. This phone does not allow you to make long distance calls but you can use a calling card. You will have access to email on our wireless system or the computers that are also located in the lounge.
G. Local Weather
Most likely, you will want to consult the 7-10 day weather forecast on the Internet. Please keep in mind that New Orleans can have extended periods of rain. During the summer months it is extremely hot and humid. Hydration is an issue. Please be sure to drink plenty of water. Consider bringing your own supply of bottled water.
H. Health Concerns
An up-to-date tetanus shot is mandatory. Due to demand, these are expensive and difficult to obtain in New Orleans. One local hospital emergency room is charging $700.
You might receive information about the following items from the recovery agency with which you are working. They should give you the final word on these matters as they pertain to your work site, but for now here are some general points you may want to think about and be prepared to deal with:
People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold. Immune suppressed individuals, including HIV+ people, chemotherapy patients, and organ transplant recipients, are susceptible to mold infections. Also, those with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs and therefore should limit their exposure to any mold. People sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
People without preexisting conditions should also make every effort to protect their lungs by wearing a face mask that covers both nose and mouth while in areas with visible mold or where mold may be behind the walls. Protective eye wear, long sleeves and long pants help prevent any skin breaks that could lead to infection. If a person working in a mold contaminated area does break skin, immediate care should be given, including washing the area with soap and clean water and applying an occlusive dressing, If using bandaids, medical tape can be applied to the open sides so mold is less likely to enter beneath the bandage.
Hospital care in the metro New Orleans area post-Katrina is limited thus waits for care are much longer than before the storm. The city lost 35,000 of its 50,000 hospital beds and thousands of doctors and nurses. Facilities as of early February still accepting patients 24 hours a day include:
East Jefferson General Hospital 4000 Houma Blvd, Metairie 504 454 4000,
Touro Hospital infirmary 1401 Foucher St, New Orleans 504 897-7011 ,
West Jefferson Hospital 1101 Medical Center Blvd, Marrero 504-347-5511
Oschner Clinic Hospital 1516 Jefferson Hwy, Jefferson 504- 842-3000
More health and safety tips are available on the Centers for Disease Control website www.CDC.Gov under Environmental Health. There is also a great article on Katrina clean up.
Based on our experience in hosting recovery teams so far, we have discovered that the following suggestions might make the experience run more smoothly for us and for you.
* Please designate one person who will be “keeper of the keys.” Your group will be given only one set of keys. You will be required to keep outside doors locked at all times.
* Designating one or more persons to stay behind for cooking and clean up seems to be appreciated by the other workers. After a hard day, most do not feel like returning to the church to cook.
* Establishing a cleaning schedule for the kitchen and bathrooms ensures those tasks get done. We expect that you will leave these areas in the way that you found them. Another group may be coming right after yours; they deserve to start off in a clean facility.
* Please designate someone who has a digital camera to take pictures on and off the work site. If it is possible, we would love for you to share some of your photos with us! We will add bulletin board displays and your photos may be added to the website.
* If your group is here on Sunday morning, please know you are welcome to join our worship service which begins at 10:00 a.m. We welcome your participation by singing, ushering, reading scripture. The choir rehearses one hour before the service at 9:00.
If you wish to experience some of the culture of New Orleans, check out www.nola.com or bestofneworleans.com. These sites list all sports events and entertainment venues in the city including theater, live music, and art exhibits. It has a list of special events and museums. Anyone at Central St. Matthew would be happy to give you directions to specific locations.
We look forward to meeting you. Please do not hesitate to call your contact person if you have any questions.