Sunday, October 05, 2008

Some Pictures of Galveston Work

Notice the grass at the top of the fences.

Galveston Cleanup

Yesterday members of the Corpus Christi Texas Stake were asked to go volunteer to work in Galveston with the Church in an effort to help people clean up from the recent hurricane Ike. I believe we had around 100 people attend from our stake. There were many other stakes that also attended, and the cleanup effort is ongoing.

I drove up with my dad and Bishop Nelson. Josh and Jeremy went up also and we stayed at Kenny and Karen and Kelley's house, which we were EXTREMLY grateful to do. Otherwise we would have been leaving around 3:30 in the morning to get there for the beginning assignments.

As we made our way from Santa Fe to Galveston you could see the progression of destruction from wind to water. It is amazing to imagine the amount of time it will take to restore most of what once was. The first thing that hits you is the cars in the ditches or the boats up against the road and all the debris and trash piled up on the embankments of the highway. The second is the smell. If only I could make scratch and sniff pictures, you'd have a much better understanding of what it is like. Although most people tend to think that the wind is the most dangerous part of a hurricane, (what category is it?), the worst destruction comes from the water. The tidal surge reached at least 15-20 feet in my estimation in the places we went.

Imagine losing everything that you have except the frame of your house. Now imagine everyone, block by block, doing the same. All the trees, shrubs, grass and plants are either dead or dying. Every appliance, book, picture, piece of furniture, clothing... it is now ruined. Food in the freezer or refrigerator is spoiled and oozing toxic waste if you mistakenly open the door. Water, mixed with any foul substance and smell you can imagine, is pooled into any conainer will to hold it. After three weeks of sitting, it is now once big cespool.

As we gathered at the chapel in Galveston, spared any damage whatsoever, we formed our team out with Brother James Torres joining us. We received our Mormon Helping Hands t-shirts, our orders and orientation, and after a hymn, prayer, and LONG speech by those in charge, went off to our first of two assignments.

We were only a few blocks from the chapel. Our first task was to gut out the garage of a home that sat at least 10 feet above the road and everyone else around them. They were two weeks from closing the sale on their home. Now...who knows.

We removed boxes of clothes, books and pictures. The garage door. A car that was molding and now worthless, and several other pieces of furniture and personal belongings. The water damage was low on the walls due to the height of the house. We took out the lower four foot section of the walls so that it could dry and be repaired. After meeting the home owners, finishing up and taking a quick break, we were on our way to our next task after about two hours of work.

The next project was to remove everything from the home, including sheetrock and flooring. I feared this would be an overwhelming task. However, to our great fortune all furniture and other items were already removed from the home. We removed all the sheetrock and wooden flooring from the entire house. We had started at about 11:00 am, and including a lunch break and several water breaks, we finished our task around 4:00 pm that afternoon. We were extremely grateful for the cool weather. Even at that, with several drinks ingested, many of us were still depleted of any liquids internally.

We said our many goodbyes, and with requests to join the homeowner for a bar-b-que in six months (he feels that is when they will be able to return to a finished house) we left back for the chapel. After turning in our paperwork, and stretching out the soreness, we returned to Kenny's house for much needed showers. We were pleased that Uncle Kenny joined us for our second house, and then was gracious enough to provide pizza.

Dad and I left for Corpus around 7:45 that night, and, even though we had slept on cots the night before and worked all day, somehow, I just wasn't tired enough to sleep on the way home.

Note: I am having problems with the camera...but will be posting pictures soon.