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After Hurricane Katrina

CDW co-workers help rebuild Slidell, La.

If pressed, Centreville resident Fredo Sardiña wouldn't exactly call himself a repair man.

“I wouldn't say I'm handy,” said Sardiña, an account manager for CDW Corp. “I worked construction for a year ... but I wouldn't say I'm handy.”

BUT THAT'S what he and 300 other CDW workers from across the nation were trying to be as they trekked to Louisiana in different groups for 10 consecutive weeks starting Aug. 20, to help rebuild homes that were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.

Sardiña, along with 29 other co-workers as part of CDW's “Operation Home Delivery”, worked in the East St. Tammany Chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Slidell, La., from Sept. 3-7 for the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Upon arriving in the ravaged state on Sunday, the former corporate colleagues were split into groups and charged with different stages of construction.

Sardiña, relying on that one year of construction experience, was placed on siding detail.

“They put the first row of siding up for us and kind of showed us how to do it,” Sardiña said. “There were (Habitat for Humanity) people around, so if we had questions we could ask.”

Slidell is just outside of New Orleans, some 30 miles to the north via Route 10. Although he was not stationed in the city that was the center of Katrina's devastation, Sardiña did make it into New Orleans for one of his four days of work, laboring in the Musician's Quarter on Monday.

Sardiña, who had never been to New Orleans before the hurricane, was taken aback by some of the measures that still remained, nearly a year after Katrina hit.

“There were still National Guard in some places,” Sardiña said. “That was a little shocking.”

Fellow CDW employee Craig Solensky said he was left with the impression that more work needed to be done in New Orleans.

“You don't really see much of New Orleans on TV now, people have kind of let it go,” said Solensky, who put up siding in Louisiana from Aug. 3-6. “They forget that it's still a disaster area ... there were still cars flipped upside down in places. They don't even have enough manpower to clean up, much less rebuild.”

CDW account manager Kevin Burnworth built walls Aug. 20-23 in Slidell, prior to Sardiña's trip and said despite the large amount of work left to get the area back to what it was, the future homeowners were thrilled with the help that they were receiving.

“It was really cool,” Burnworth said. “They brought us lunch and snacks while we were working.”

SARDINA ECHOED Burnworth's experience with the people that would enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“Grateful and excited,” said Sardiña, trying to sum up the attitude of those he helped. “Grateful that we were there and excited to see their houses being built.”

CDW Corp., with offices in Reston, provides technology solutions for business, government and education.