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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NOLA Winter Break Trip

While driving around Mid City and the Ninth Ward in New Orleans this winter break, I was somewhat surprised to see how many homes still had inspection markings from over 5 years ago. I was more surprised, however, to find that many of these marked homes had not only been rebuilt inside, but were currently occupied. The owners had chosen to leave the markings so they could memorialize the devastation of Hurricane Katrina while the rebuilding effort around them remains unfinished. The people of New Orleans will not rest until the city has been restored, and Fordham DRN returns every year to help them with that process.

Inspection markings found on many of the homes devastated by Katrina

I spent the week with a small group working on a home in Mid City. Our delightfully unique and informative "project manager" Jim informed us that this particular type of house is common in the New Orleans area and is called a "Shotgun House." They are so named, we were told, because a person could stand in the very back room of the house and use a shotgun to shoot an intruder in the front (imagine a railroad apartment with taller ceilings and a more colorful name). We spent several days mudding, painting, climbing ladders, building walls, and quizzing Jim about New Orleans culture. The manual labor was taxing, but incredibly rewarding. After only 4 days, the mark we left was undeniable: what began as a gutted, uninhabitable house was beginning to look like a home.

In front of our Shotgun House!

New Orleans is a city full of life, despite the unbelievable tragedies that it has endured in the last few years. Everyone we met during the week was selflessly devoted to rebuilding the city and returning it to its former glory. This devotion, however, would mean nothing without the continued efforts of volunteers. Many thanks to Phoenix of New Orleans for fostering this volunteerism and to Fordham DRN for making this trip possible.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New PayPal Link

Thank you for your continuing support. If you would like to make a donation to DRN through PayPal, please visit:
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Haiti Round-table Discussion

On Friday, February 11, 2011, the Fordham Law Disaster Relief Network hosted a round-table discussion for New York City-area law schools that have legal projects in Haiti. Law schools represented included Cardozo, Columbia, CUNY, NYU, and Seton Hall. Additional participants included Annie Gell, from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti ("IJDH"), and Professor Tracy McGaugh of Touro Law Center and "You.Me.We." Fordham Law School was represented by the DRN executive board, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Nitza Escalera, Assistant Dean of the Public Interest Resource Center Tom Schoenherr, and Professor Olivier Sylvain. Also in attendance were Kristin Blomquist (FLS 2012) who worked with IJDH, Jocy Brooks (FLS 2012) who will work with IJDH, and Sarah Borsody (FLS 2011) from the Fordham Immigration Advocacy Program.

The round-table aimed to provide a forum through which these groups could collaborate in their work and assess their future goals and challenges. If you are interested in learning more about the outcome of the discussion or getting involved in future collaboration, please email DRN at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Only ONE Month till Haiti 2011

We're only one month away now from our spring break trip to Haiti this year !

Thank you to everybody that has been donating so far, and to those of you who haven't had the chance yet please support us at the link above in this final month of preparation for the trip.

7 Fordham Law students along with Dean of Student Affairs, Nitza Escalera will be traveling to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to conduct a legal fact-finding mission for the impending cholera litigation to be brought in Haitian courts. Our work will directly address the spread of the cholera epidemic to the prisons and the role that the government has played failing to provide adequate sanitation and health services in the prisons.

Mack McClendon's Revival of the Lower 9th

Last year, a crew from the New Orleans trip spent each day doing odd jobs around the Lower 9th Ward. These tasks were less about their physical impact, and more about building connections with the people living in the neighborhood. On the Tuesday of that week, we were brought to an abandoned auto body shop that was being rebuilt as a community center. The man behind the project was Mack McClendon (left). We spent the day cleaning up the warehouse and listening to Mack's stories of the Lower 9th before, during, and after the floods. Rather than attempting to retell his story, I'll let Mack do it for me. Recently he was a guest at The Moth, a nonprofit group dedicated to the art of storytelling. You can access his story, entitled "What Can You Do?" here.