Seeing the Impact

Day three of Houston relief work has dawned. Today we worked at three separate locations that included an after school club and two houses. We finished spraying out the after school program building with fire hoses and squeegeed out the halls and classrooms. In the gymnasium of the same facility we moved the contents of a storage room to the stage and created piles consisting of personal care, first aid and infant products. During lunch we went to Buc-ees and then returned to the work site. After lunch we went to two homes and helped cut drywall to the proper height in the first. In the second home there was much more work to do. When we arrived Bob went into the living room to survey the damage. As we entered it became obvious just how bad the damage that the hurricane had done was. The floor was completely covered in mud and garbage. Personal belongings were strewn across every flat surface in an attempt to keep them away from where the flood would reach them. The homeowner told us that everything needed to go except for a very small amount of essentials such as a refrigerator. We began by pulling out the largest items and putting smaller garbage and belongings in trash bags. Seeing a lifetime of possessions pile up in front of the house was extremely emotionally heavy for many of the students. As we held a family’s memories in our hands we were devastated by the damage that something as simple as water could do to a lifetime of work. As we worked our way through the house the damage looked worse and worse. The debris moved from being small papers and garbage to clothing and large furniture. The living room where we entered was the least of the damage. Pulling down cloth barriers and opening doors revealed how damaged the houses structure was. The floor had holes. The walls were mud stained. In the back of the home the bathroom had completely collapsed and the roof was hanging down. The kitchen was covered in grease from the oven and the floors were encrusted in mud and soggy carpet. The water had left papers stuck to the floor and the mold growing under the carpet required that anyone working in the house wear a respirator. There were roaches crawling from under furniture and carpets and spiders hiding on the walls. After we had finished surveying the damage we went to work. We tore out carpet and pulled out old furniture and appliances. We shoveled debris into trash bags. We swept the walls to remove the spiders and opened the windows to let in fresh air. The holes in the floor were covered with boards and all of the dangers in the house such as needles, knives, live electrical and gas were eliminated to create a safe living space for this family to move back into. The more work we did the clearer it became that the work we were doing was impacting lives. Today was a hard and heavy, but after seeing the impact we are excited for what tomorrow brings.

Written by Jake Brown, Kaitlyn, and Cheyenne

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