Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Most of our mornings don't start as this one did. We made a home visit with Tony and Laura. She had just walked into our office last Thursday. I took the usual information from her and sent her out with the usual letter that we mail. In this letter they are asked to gather documents (deed, identification, etc) within a 30 day period and call me back when they have all their documents copied and ready to go. Ms Laura had hers ready yesterday -- she lets no grass grow under her feet!
When we arrived we only had the basic information; they lived in an area that suffered severe flooding and all she could say was that their house had "fallen in." The outside of the home looked nice, repainted with a small carport in front. It's a very small home and when we entered through the front door it was breath-taking! She arranges dried flowers and it was just beautiful! And every wall was exactly as she said, tongue and groove. We've seen alot of homes in doing what we are doing but never walls like these.
Then their story began. They stayed in the house during the storm. They were convinced they were far enough from the gulf waters they would be safe. As they watched the waters rising in the front of their home they decided they should get in their van and head out. Wrong idea! The waters rose so quickly they were unable to drive so they went back inside the home. At this point they realized the water was pouring in through the back door and at such a fast pace they soon realized their lives were in jeopardy! Ms Laura is unable to swim and before they realized it they were in water up to their necks -- literally! Mr Tony did what he could to calm Ms Laura to the point of carrying her on his own back through the waters. They walked this way all the way to the highway! Now I don't know how many miles that is but I do know that even walking it NOT in neck deep water would be more than a challenge for most of us!
They went to the highway because they hoped it was high enough to hold a dry spot for them to be safe. They were right. BUT -- Mr Tony went back into their housing area and started doing the same thing again -- carrying people to safety on his own back! I realize you can't see him but just know that he can't be 5' 8" on a good day!
Now here is the miracle -- he said they only thing that continued through his head this entire time was Psalm 61 -- verse for verse! I hope you will go to that exact chapter and read it -- you will get chills! I did!
They remained on the highway until they were rescued by others. They were taken to her father's home where they stayed for the next 2 days until they were allowed back into their own home. What they found is documented on her photos and will bring anyone to tears! But they wasted no time in taking out everything they owned and cleaning inside. This is where those tongue and groove walls proved to be such a blessing, they don't need torn out, just cleaned and sprayed for mold and cleaned and sprayed for mold quite a few times. They did just that and started doing what they could to put their lives and home back together. Like I said, their home is beautiful and they give all the glory to God!
Now comes the problem -- due to all that water and what it does to things that we never think of -- their home is literally giving way and falling into the ground. Remember that there aren't a handful of homes built on slabs here due to the water table. This one wasn't high off the ground, only around a foot or more, but now it sits on the ground. Imagine what is happening to their new vinyl flooring, to their walls that are now separating from the floors and how you feel unbalanced when you stand in certain places!
Our job -- level the house without destroying all their work! Not easy you say? You are right! It can only be done by a contractor -- one that can be trusted and one who knows what they are doing! THAT is our job -- find that contractor! Then comes the small issue of paying that contractor! That's also where we come in -- tap all our resources, and then some!
After getting all the necessary information we were blessed to sit and listen to Mr Tony as he professed his faith in the Lord -- it was amazing and so uplifting to the both of us! We could have sat and listened for hours (and his wife agreed that he can go on for that long) but we did have to go. He continued to assure US that God would bring the right people -- after all -- he brought us to them!
We all talked about all the miracles we had seen and been a part of. What an awesome time of sharing and time I wish could've lasted longer! Time I wish you could have spent with us and heard and seen for yourselves!
Pray for this couple, pray for the right contractor, pray for the finances -- just cover it all in prayer!
Until next time . . . when I will try and show you a photo . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, April 28, 2008
Ms Ollie is complete with new top soil and grass that should sprout easily with all the rain we had over the weekend.
Many, many thanks to Pastor Lavoy for the donation and spreading of the top soil!!!
Today started as do all Monday mornings, with our meeting where all the relief agencies meet at the round table to discuss who needs help and what we can do to get them that help. This morning we had more clients presented than have been in a very long time. This is a good thing. It means the people are being reached, especially the ones who had sort of "fallen between the cracks" and help should be coming to them. Each case must be presented with full information of what has been done and what still needs to be done. It's amazing at what still needs to be done and how some haven't even been able to begin any forward steps! I know it might seem like that is impossible to you but if you were here you would realize that nothing is impossible.
Monty has spent his day with his chain saw. A new build is finishing up where trees had to be removed to even place the house. Those trees have been piled up for awhile and needed to be removed. He took care of that today and will now head to the chiropractor to get things adjusted back into place. Handling heavy logs can take a toll but he enjoyed every minute of being outside and doing some hands-on work.
I have been working client cases and finishing the photo album for Ms Ollie. I promised her I would put one together for her since she missed everything that went on during the week of the building of her home. As I went back through all the photos and tried to select the ones that would tell the story it brought back the memories. Telling the entire story in photos is impossible but atleast with these I selected she will be able to see most of it and realize all the work -- and all the love -- that went into her home!
We start tomorrow with yet another home visit!
Until then . . . Susan and Monty
Friday, April 25, 2008
Our home visits will continue and we will continue! How can we not?
We did visit one very beautiful home, the home of Ms Mary. She was able to secure her grant early on and the only thing she still needs is a new HVAC unit. What happens when one of those units becomes submerged in flood waters (salt water) is that when they dry out they will continue to run for a limited amount of time. Each units time varies but eventually they all stop. With the summer temps continuing to rise now is not the time to be without air conditioning.
This home belongs to Ms Tess who is not only a single mother trying to raise her own children, she has adopted a daughter and is trying to adopt the daughters 3 siblings! She also works full time and this is what she has been looking at since the storm brought the flood waters and winds her way. She has had a new roof put on but in doing so one of the workers fell through into a bedroom and just covered up the hole with shingles. Needless to say she will need another new roof to stop the moisture from coming in and causing black mold to continue to grow.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Meet Mr Douglas. The outside of his small home survived the storm -- not the inside!
If you click on the photo you can see that his home is cement block and therefore still standing.
It has been gutted and is ready for the electric, which Douglas will do as he is an electrician at the shipyard. We hope to be able to come in behind him and take the home to completion.
It looks like that won't start until July with a team coming from Florida. That might seem like a long time from now but when people have waited as long as Douglas has -- a few more months isn't anything! It would be nice to get it done before then but . . .
Douglas is also one of the fortunate ones; since the home is still standing and he wants to rebuild it, he won't have to have it raised. If he chose to demo this one and build a new one it would have to be "high and lifted up" due to the new flood zones. Just one of the many things that have to be taken into consideration when we go into these homes to see what we can do to help.
We had a break from home visits today so it's been used to catch up on a couple of things. The main thing I could work on was the photo album I am creating for Ms Ollie. She missed seeing all of the activities of the building week so when people stop her and talk about seeing this or that she has no idea what they are talking about. Trying to take the many photos I took and tell the entire story is no easy task. So many faces, so many people working so hard and yet having such a great time -- not easy to relay in photos but I'm working on it. She is so anxious to see them and hopefully I can get it done in the next couple of days.
Tomorrow we are back to home visits and Friday has even more. Many of the shipyard workers are off on Fridays so its the time to get to as many as possible. Please pray for us as we enter not only the homes but the lives of the people who are still hurting.
Oh yes -- wondering about the title of todays blog . . . if you Google Monty's name you can see he is a link to the article on the Speed Build!! We are all out there in this big ole' world in some form or another! :)
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
They realize that the missing link in New Orleans was the connection with the homeowners. Here that connection will be made and miracles will happen, in many ways. We look forward to having them work with us once again.
Monty and I continue with our home visits. We had another one last night that broke my heart. James and Jess have lived in their home for 11 years and when the storm came in they had nearly 5 feet of water inside. The surge shifted the home on its foundation and even though they have had alot of rebuilding done, the shifting is causing long term problems with flooring and sheetrock cracking and plumbing not wanting to "stay put." They have 3 wonderful little children and I had to tell them that the one daughter must move out of her bedroom due to the black mold that continues to grow in her window. The outside of the window is exposed to the weather because the siding was ripped off. Therefore the moisture continues to come in and the mold is continuing to grow. It's so difficult to see a family who is doing everything they can to just survive and make ends meet struggle for so long. James injured his lower back while he was gutting the home and required major surgery. He was out of work for nearly a year and even though the income wasn't coming in the bills made their way to their mailbox. He has gotten a new job and even with that playing the "catch up" game is next to impossible. My heart breaks for them and we will do the best we can to see about this foundation problem.
The calls continue to come in, the people continue to need help and we continue to schedule the visits and pray that we will be able to help! Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers as those prayers are what changes things and changes lives!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, April 21, 2008
There are shrimp --- and then there are Gulf shrimp!!! Monty went directly to the ship to get these fresh!! The sizes down here are amazing and the prices are rock bottom compared to anything up north we are used to! You can see how he skewered them with a fresh pineapple and that was dinner one night. VERY good and very inexpensive!!
The morning began with our weekly meeting of all the relief efforts around the tables seeing what one group might need and how another group might fill that need. It was a great meeting for all. I presented the case for Jackie and his wife and before leaving I had a group volunteer to not only put the roof on -- but they will provide all the materials to do so! AND they are going to provide them with a new oven! Now that is the way to start a week! When I called Jackie to tell him the good news he broke into tears of joy, not really believing that help has finally arrived! The roof won't be put on until late next month but that didn't make any difference to him. He's waited this long and a few more weeks -- with a light at the end of the tunnel--makes no difference to him.
Our next blessing came with the funding for Robert's cabinets and counter tops. We have had teams in helping them with the final touches, including a new laundry room (see past blogs) but his kitchen cabinets were damaged and almost not usable. The funding came through, the cabinet lady has been there and they will be installed asap. One more case where we can mark "closed" and with a smile!
Late this afternoon and early this evening Monty and I will be doing a couple more home visits. And the phone calls continue to come in for us to schedule the visits. One home at a time and sometimes we can close more than one! More families taken to completion with more still in line waiting. Pray that the funding and the volunteers continue to come in for all those who are still waiting!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Yes folks, she's a state record holder for being the largest female in the state!!
And she didn't go easily either! She had come up from being buried in the mud (underwater) for the entire winter, was nesting and NOT a happy camper when they caught her! She gave them quite the fight over quite a time but in the end they were able to load her in their boat and take her to safer waters. She was making her nest IN the campground -- thus the reason the last camper in that spot had one VERY nervous dog!
The things we never think about "up" home!
This morning was spent arranging orders for materials to be delivered to homeowners. This means that those homeowners are getting one step closer to having their homes done and ready to move into.
This afternoon will be spent checking on 2 teams of volunteers. One is working in the Coleman house and the other in Robin's house. Both teams are from different relief agencies who look for their work to come through us. This is what helps us get the jobs done. We do what we can to tap into resources and the volunteers bring in their labor so it's a perfect match -- or as close to it as we can get!
Robin's house is being gutted and will then be completely redone, starting with electric and plumbing issues. She had nearly 6 feet of water inside her home.
Coleman's house is getting close to being done. The call came this morning saying they were getting ready for interior doors and that is a great sign as those are some of the last things to go in.
Later this evening we will be doing a home visit with an employee of the local shipyard. We went into the work place to see who still needed help and the responses were amazing! The best part is that when we told them the documentation they would need to gather for us they did so immediately and are now calling ready to go. That's where Monty and I come in. We call and schedule the home visit appointment and at the same time look at the house and see what has been done and what still needs to be done. It takes care of a couple of things with one trip. With the shipyard working all sorts of shifts it means that some of these visits must be done in the evenings. Whatever it takes!!
We stopped by to check on Ms Darlene's neighbor yesterday. He had to demo his house and build a new one. I couldn't believe it until we actually stood underneath it -- he is 18 feet in the air!!! He is in the framing process now and although things are going slowly, they are going forward. We also checked on Ms Darlene and Art is wrapping up some of the things he needed to get done.
We also ran into Dane (our first "high and lifted up" house) and he said his wife is not doing well, a bit worse each day. If you remember, she is quite a bit older than Dane and sufferring from Alzheimer's disease. Please remember them in your prayers. He has been working in the local park getting the restroom facilities built back after the storm. Monty and I were at the park the other evening and it was good to see the kids playing on the new equipment, people walking along the water and some sitting in the swings that were placed facing the water. Seeing some sort of normalcy isn't normal for here. It brings a warmth to our hearts knowing that life is returning, slowly but surely.
Until next time . . . Bitty and Samson (our dogs) are quite glad we are not the campsite directly on the water) Susan and Monty
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
There are many things that happen as a result of these storms -- things we don't think about.
Gators are one of them!
When the flood waters rise as they did, people aren't the only ones that can become displaced. Rising waters "relocated" gators into places where they shouldn't be.
Today, in the state park where we are living, one of those gators will be relocated to where she should be!
Since we are less than 500 feet from the waters and don't dare let our 2 small dogs out without leashes, we are rather glad that she will be moved to somewhere she should be! We did have a neighboring camper tell us he once lost one of his dogs to a gator (not here locally) and thus the reason his current dog was a bit more than nervous being close to any water! Smart dog!!
We are also sort of relocating ourselves back into the piles that are on our desks. I have been back on the phone nearly all day scheduling appointments to go and do home visits with those who still need help in getting rebuilt. The calls continue to come in, the people continue to walk in the office and the work still needs done. The main problem now is that the volunteers are really slowing down! Nearly all the world believes everyone here is fine -- after all -- it's going on 3 years later!! WRONG!!! It's just very old news and no one likes very old news!
Monty and I are committed to continue following God's call to do what we can to help the people rebuild, both their homes and their lives. Thanks to all of you who are making that possible for us!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, April 14, 2008
The "sign" California put on the new flooring going in at Ms Darlene's house. You gotta do what you gotta do to get the job done!
Thank goodness American Airlines put all their flights back in the air -- the CA team is home safe and sound.
Monty and I had to make the last minute trip to our accountant this morning to make sure all was a "go" before midnight tonight. It's not an easy task to file taxes in a state you do not live in!! Hopefully you all will make the deadline also.
We are shifting back into some sort of catch up mode. Alot of things got pushed to the back burner for the build week and now it's time to look at that back burner and move them to the front.
Another piece of blessing in regard to the build -- when we went to church yesterday morning they told us how they had taken a gift of towels to Ms Ollie and how they were a perfect match to her colors! This is what community should be all about! The church just decided they needed to give back in any way they could and it was perfect!
Have you given back for some special blessing you received??
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Friday, April 11, 2008
The top right photo is just for you "Coop"! Coop came with this team last year and because he is currently working in Afganistan he was unable to come this time. He has been missed and the team wanted to do something special for him. You must look VERY closely to see that they humanly spelled out COOP for him! I know, you'll need to use your imagination! The entire staging was hysterical and filled with love! We missed you Coop and pray for your safety!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Have you ever seen so many people down on their hands and knees? And take a good look at this tile, it's beautiful!