Oh boy, The Captain and I are just drying the tears from our eyes after saying goodbye to the wonderful folks from Midland, Michigan who came down and worked on several houses for the past two weeks.
There was one particular group of six or seven men who came into our new house, and did a real number on the interior framing—in a good way!
These retired men, from all other fields of expertise, put their heads and skills together, and did a magnificent job framing up the inside of our house. I am neither architect, nor engineer, nor draftsman, so they had to make sense of the house plan the way I drew it–without any detail.
They drove down, brought their own tool trailer, and home-baked cookies from the Cookie Lady of Trinity Lutheran, for their breaks, and got down to work. They were only at our place about three and a half days, but they worked together like a well-oiled machine and what they accomplished is beyond amazing.
When we left off, they were putting up the inside walls. Then came the exterior framework, and then . . .
Ron P. is on the left in this photo. Ron is on the ladder, nailing up joist hangers, as Emory looks on. Eldon, the background, is also installing joist hangers, while the men in the background cut the ceiling boards.
And just like that, they were finished. It seemed like they were here no time at all. Their work is exact and precise, and downright professional. We are really blessed to have had them working in our new home, and I’m sure everyone else who has been blessed by their generosity feels the same.
Here’s part of the crew, from L to R, Pat, Ron, Eldon, Jim, Ron P., and Jerry the tall fellow in the back. They are standing in the living room, in case you were wondering. This is the first time they have ever done “new construction”, in their total of eleven disaster recovery trips.
And here’s the whole wonderful dozen on the front porch of the Miracle Bayou Tree House! Sitting, L to R are Jim, Judy, Ron, Eldon, and Ed. Standing, L to R are Marsha, Dorothy, Emory, Pat, Ted, Jerry, and Ron P.
And as we were saying our goodbyes, they floored us with more generosity from some of the ladies back in Midland who can’t travel with the group but want to contribute in their own way . . .
And then these muted shades of beige, blue, and brown are so comforting and peaceful. All three display hours of love and dedicated handiwork, for which my family will be forever grateful. Thank you, ladies.
It was a teary good-bye, I have to admit. They worked hard, we shared a few home-cooked meals, cracked a few jokes, and told a few tall tales. It was a wonderful few days in our lives that I, for one, will never, ever forget.
I just want to say to Ron and Ron, that neither one of you turned out to be the “bad Ron”.
To Pat, I want to say you have a gift of encouragement, and thanks for sharing it.
To Eldon, your questions made the wetland tour an interesting one for me, so thanks for asking.
To Stretch, I mean Jerry, thanks for catching all the flaws in my design and making everything come out plumb and square.
To Jim, thanks for keeping the crowns on top and for making sure the attic steps didn’t open onto the back porch!
To Emory, thanks for all the compliments about the food and for doing the dishes three days straight! Dort trained you well!
To Dort, Judy, Marcia, Ed and Ted: Thanks for all you did for folks on neighboring bayous. I know they are as thankful as we. Thanks for the restoration work, and thanks for the heater. It’s heating up the den quite cozily as I type this.
To each of you in the Trinity Lutheran Recovery Group:
The door to the new house will be open any time. Just let me know in enough time to cook you a good bayou meal, okay?
God bless each one of you as you have blessed us.
Epilogue: As a result of a question in the comments section, I realize I’ve failed to recognize a very important link in this whole story, and the details leading up to all of this. It’s called history. After Rita flooded the five bayous in 2005, a group of folks at Grace Lutheran in Houma, LA helped with recovery, headed up by a woman named Courtney Pellegrin. (I am giving you the short version.) Courtney, with the help of others, formed a non-profit called Bayou Grace which continued to help people in their recovery and educated disaster recovery volunteers about the plight of the people here and the vanishing wetlands. At the time, Bayou Grace was working with other organizations to help folks rebuild storm-worthy homes. Through my friend, Lillian Miller, a connection was made, and Bayou Grace committed to helping my family rebuild. I eventually began doing presentations at their Tuesday night dinners and met hundreds of wonderful, giving people from all over the country. Meanwhile, I applied for The Road Home grant, which took almost three years to complete, while our damaged home flooded again for Hurricane Ike, in 2008. Just as Ike arrived, so did Diane Huhn (from Michigan). She had come down the year before as part of the recovery effort, and ended up coming down to volunteer a year of her life as the Volunteer Coordinator for Bayou Grace, organizing all the recovery crews and lining them up with work. We eventually met through our blogs–she won a Community Coffee prize and came to collect in person. Knowing my family was still on the list of families that had be designated rebuilding help, Diane was instrumental in making that happen. She had met these folks from Trinity Lutheran, did a presentation at their church in Midland, MI last year, and knew that our need and their generosity would make a perfect match. So, I have been very remiss in this whole story in not recognizing these major players in this mighty miracle. For that I deeply apologize. Lots of things had to happen over a four-year period for all this to fall into place; but Providentially, it did. And honestly, friends, it’s nothing short of a real miracle, all the way around. So to Courtney, the board of Bayou Grace, and Diane, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very, very much. You kept your promise, and yes, it does restore our faith in humankind. BW
PS: It is also important to note that Bayou Grace’s focus changed about a year ago from reconstruction to environmental outreach, including community gardens and small wetland restoration projects. Even so, they did not let my family fall through the cracks and kept their three-year-old commitment to help us recover. Now that is integrity, yes?
To see what else they did in their two weeks here, go to Diane’s blog.