Sunday, February 26, 2012

One of the reasons we are here

Hello friends,

The weather has gotten better - cool at night, warm during the day - at least if you put it into "perspective" of north vs. south.

Our week continued in building the handicap ramp, which is now complete.  Ken and Tom put the ballisters on the ramp while Deb and Barry trimmed out the porch.  Yes, it would have been nice to have enhanced the railing with spindles and be able to use metal brackets and bar for the handicap rail, BUT, all of those things would have cost an extra $$$ which we could use elsewhere.  They made it work with what we had.  The American Disabilities Act code is very specific as to the height and spacing.  Using discarded pieces of 2×4 for blocks to hold the railing along the sides and applying liquid nails and screws to secure together.  It met the code, so Ken, Tom and Barry’s job was done.

Completed handicapped ramp
Ken built an extra shelf for me inside the UMCOR trailer to help keep it organized.  Of course, everyone must bend down to see it - it is at my level - OOPS.

Ken adding shelf
Inside the house there was sanding and mudding of the walls and ceilings left to do before paint was to be applied.  I had done a little too much sanding and floating that my right arm was paining me and it was difficult to do a lot of things because of the brace I was wearing.  I felt totally useless because I could not help inside, and UMCOR had no groups scheduled this week, but at the last moment we were blessed to have a crew of ten from outside of Cleveland, OH to help with this.  They were so eager, that we let them sand, prime and paint the ceilings and walls.  Now it is looking like a house and closer to moving into.

One of the volunteers from Ohio
One day a road crew was ripping and tarring the road.  A few volunteers were standing in a circle talking when one of the men drove up and yelled out his window, “Do y’all take prayer requests?”  I know I, as well as the group looked at him quizzically, but one of the mission organizers (Paul) told him, “Come on! Park that truck and come over here.” Paul said that there was no reason they couldn’t pray for him right here and now.  The truck driver parked his truck and came over for prayer.  Apparently, he and his girlfriend were having some difficulties and they had been praying for  guidance in their lives.  The group prayed for him and after thanking them, he put his truck in reverse and drove back to his job of dumping asphalt.   He stopped in the next day and said that the prayer gave him a peace he had never felt before and he was ready for what God had in store for him.  This is one of the reasons we are here!  You never know when you can touch someone.  The driver said that he had asked another group at a previous house to pray for him and they wanted to have him make an appointment.  Our group was in the right place at the right time.

On Friday, the local Police officer who has been patrolling the area stopped in to see the house and talk and thank the volunteers.  He spent about half an hour talking about what had happened before, during and after the storm.  The volunteers had many questions for him and he was very obliging about talking about the storm.

Local Police from Tuscaloosa giving encouragement to volunteers
There are times when you are on a job site that you must make the most of a moment.  As I was helping Ken with the railing, I noticed a pattern in the wood – to me it looked like a woman.  Of course, Ken and a few others said that it was ‘KNOT’ a person nor was the other one an angel – I saw it with my artistic mind.  Can’t you see it?
Woman in the knot of the wood
Angel in the knot of the wood
Deloris stopped by prior to completion of her ramp and made her initial walk. She was so elated as she walked up the ramp, clutching onto Deb (volunteer from York, PA) and exclaiming through tears, how wonderful it was, and that she had never seen anything so beautiful.  I think her joy made her move faster than I have seen her move in the past. 

We ventured out on Saturday for a tour of the area and some of the architectural highlights:  Bama Theatre, one of the oldest operating theaters in Tuscaloosa decorated in the Moorish style of Renaissance Spain; the Battle-Friedman House and Gardens which has an elaborate architectural detail built in the early 1800’s built with brick 18” thick.  Another house we saw was the Maxwell Peters Home built in the 1860’s with its English architecture – so much architecture from so many areas.

The First Presbyterian Church is a neo-Gothic church built in 1921.  There are a variety of antiques consisting of a 15th century German and Flemish stained glass and a 16th century Italian baptismal font.

Baptismal font

One of the stained glass windows
Another stained glass window
University of AL had a Round House built in 1860 to shelter sentinels serving guard duty at the University as part of the military system to preserve order among the students during the Civil War.

Round House
The Gorgas House is the oldest building on the campus.  This was one of the buildings spared when Croxton’s soldiers burned structures on the campus in 1865.

Gorgas House
Of course, I gravitated towards the Arts & Sciences Department and Ken felt it had some ‘interesting’ statuary.  This one caught my eye.  It looks like a fallen robot.

We drove up to an area that was hard hit and throughout our drive you see “stars” scattered all over the area of Holt and are called “Stars for Holt”. The children from the local elementary school painted the stars. Holt has come together stating (with these stars) that they will return and restore their neighborhood.  One looks at all the debris and wonder how much time it will take – but it is also a reminder of all that still needs to be done.

Star of Hope

This says it all!
There was a lone red door in the middle of the field as we were touring and we stopped and got out to check it out.  It was a ‘safe fallout shelter’ that made it through the storm, as I am sure did the people.  Ken went down to take pictures, and there were still  remnants of what had been left behind.

Lone red door in open field

Inside the fallout shelter

Inside of fallout shelter

This is our last week here in Tuscaloosa and we will be anticipating the swarm of 50 people blessing us with their help this week.  We will be painting trim, hanging doors, and  hopefully installing flooring and cabinetry.  Deloris will be so excited when she comes in this week.

The friends we have made from our onset here are leaving us.  Tom from Iowa left on Saturday, Barry and Deb from York, PA will be leaving us on Monday. Barry and Deb have been working here since Jan., Tom started in Oct.  It has been a pleasure working with them and becoming friends.   These are people you do not forget as they are – DISASTER RECOVERY JUNKIES!  Just like us.

Barry & Deb from York, PA

Ken and Tom from Iowa

Stay tuned.


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