Monday, July 02, 2007

Day One: Mud, Holes, and Windows

Today was our first day of working on the job sites. We split into three different teams, all at various locations primarily in East Biloxi. We started the morning with a wonderful breakfast prepared by the women here with some help from Anna and Jeff. We then divided into cars and went to our respective sites.

The first group (Mike & Tom, et al.) spent the morning shopping at Lowes for supplies or helping out around the church. After lunch, they then headed to the home of Mr. Huggar who is a custodian employed by the city of Biloxi, MS. His modest home is on the "backbay" side of Division Street (main road through East Biloxi) and it was literally lifted off its foundation and "twisted" over 90 degrees during the Hurricane Katrina storm surge. Reconstruction on the structure is ongoing and beyond the capabilities of our team, so we are rebuilding a front porch/steps and a side stoop/steps. Today's tasks included demolition of old footings which as completed in expert (and safe) fashion by Paul W. our one-man wrecking crew with his trusty sledgehammer. The remainder of the team (Casey, Devin & Marilee) dug holes for new footings (some were 4 feet deep!), and installed the new deck supports. We got positive comments indicating that though the houses in the area might wash away in the next major storms, the deck will likely remain intact. Great job by our young guys & gals. We raced against time with an impending afternoon thunderstorm and though we did finally get wet we now only have to wait for the concrete to set. Tomorrow we build the deck itself. NC connection - also met Hilton's younger brother visiting from VA (who recently retired from Ft. Bragg as an Army LTC) and his wife (born in Wendell). Looking forward to getting to know the Hugger clan better this week as they are really nice folks.
< Colonel Mike >

The second group (Jay, Ron, Anne, Rich, Megan, Ginger, Ashley, Catherine, Sarah, and Jonnie) went to the home of Norman. He has a wife and three children all living in a cramped FEMA trailer in front of the house. His house had been flooded waist deep with water during the storm. Because of this, he needed entirely new interior. When we arrived, most of the sheetrock and first coat of mud had been put up by previous groups. So we spent the day sanding the walls and putting a second coat of mud on the drywall. Norman also needed several windows replaced. We were able to install one of them today before the thunderstorm came. Tomorrow we will continue our sanding, mudding, and window installment.
~Anne, Sarah, and Megan~

The third group (Bill B, Jeff, Randy, Kristin, Katie, Kelsey, Ryan, Rob, and Daniel) worked on Ms. Washington's home, which is in the final stages of construction. The house is as level as can be expected for structures in Biloxi. We were greeted by a seemingly cute and cuddly dog. However, after seven, continuous hours of barking (no exaggeration) and wheezing, we are not so in love with the dog anymore. Ms.Washington grew up in the house we are working on and returned to her house a year after Katrina. Therefore, she has been living in a trailer with her dog for about a year. She told me this morning, before she went to pick out carpet, that she hoped to be in her house by the end of the month. We worked on framing and trimming windows, installing subfloor in the bathroom, and preparing to install a deck. For lunch we went to the Salvation Army Camp, right around the corner. They served us hot food under a circus tent in a stadium. We were very happy to have some shade and a few minutes to rest before getting back to work (and the dog). We ran into a few problems with not having the supplies we needed and concrete in the way of the posts for the decks, but we were able to make some good progress. We hope to have some of the projects done tomorrow and make significant progress on the others.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Keep the comments coming. We love hearing from y'all at home. Just a clarification, we have to post comments that are left so they will not immediately show up on the blog. They should show up the next day, when we have had a chance to update the blog. Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

I did notice the picture of the dog had it's mouth open. Maybe Dakota's barking is not so bad after all.

Just one question on the window replacement. How is it that Rich is working so hard holding the window and then Catherine looks like Vanna White when she is holding it? Just wondering.


rebecca reams said...

Ya'll are doing some great work! I know the people you are helping really appreciate it! I pray the light of Jesus will shine through you to those you help.

We love you!
The Reams'

mary said...

Hello, all you hard workers down there! I look forward to reading your daily reports. Glad you arrived safely, despite the flat tire. And, that your worse problem, so far, is a yapping dog! Enjoy the photos. Warm regards to all!
Mary C.