“Nobody ever died from a badly painted fence,” I reassure myself as I grab a brush and prepare to do my part – my infinitesimally small part – to rebuild New Orleans.

I don’t want to compound the city’s tragedy, and for that reason I’m keeping a wary distance from power tools, hammers and other weapons of mass construction. Anything mission-critical – framing, wiring, roofing, plumbing – is, by mutual consent, left to those who know what they’re doing.

Read the full story on the SF Chronicle’s website by clicking here.