The last six days feels like six months. I have no concept of time anymore. I don't know what day or date it is most of the time. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I am enjoying the work here and staying really busy, which makes the time pass much faster. Only four more weeks are left on this project.
This week we have been splitting the team between work at the Forest Lake Baptist Relief Center and doing home assessments. Since the Relief Center is only open from Wednesday to Saturday, we spent a little bit of time out at Soma this week as well.
Monday, Thursday, and Friday I helped with housing assessments. It still hasn't sunk in the scope of devastation, but being out in it and taking pictures definitely gives us perspective. While we were out in Alberta City this week, we actually got to talk to some homeowners that were home, which we haven't really had the opportunity to do yet. I spoke with a woman who weathered the tornado in her bathtub with her two kids, the tornado passing right over their home. She had trees down in her back yard and over $7000 worth of damage to her roof, but she and her children walked out unhurt. She also told me that her neighbor, 9 months pregnant at the time, rode the tornado out in her bathroom, survived unhurt, and gave birth to a beautiful baby two days later. What a blessing during such a terrible time for many people.
Tuesday and Saturday we worked out at Soma. On Tuesday we worked with three men from North Carolina and an individual from Tuscaloosa. We worked on an area known in the community as the Callahan Farm. The men were cutting down and pushing the brush, and we were swamping it out to the roadside. This is how I think I have acquired my small patch of poison ivy on my arm. The men we worked with were so inspiring. They were all in their 60's or 70's and working like they were in their 20's. The purpose of the work we were doing was to clear the property, so a community garden could be built. Also, the man running the heavy machinery from Tuscaloosa runs a machine shop in the area. He was not affected by the tornado and decided to donate his services to all of the volunteers, so he has been sharpening chainsaws. He sharpened over 2000 chainsaws when he decided he could be doing more and went and bought a Bobcat. With that he has been helping the sawyers clear brush, minimizing the use of their chainsaws. What an awesome thing to recognize how fortunate you are and to want to give back to your community and neighbors in such a way. When we went back out on Sunday, we worked with a couple guys down from Ohio. In order to have a house demolished, the city was requiring that some trees but cut down and off the house, so again we were doing the same type of work. This time it hit a lot closer to home though. Digging through the debris to get to the bigger pieces of wood and larger limbs, we found a lot of personal items from the home.
Working at the Relief Center is another opportunity to talk to people, which I took full advantage of. Working there we did a wide variety of tasks, but mostly sorting donations and walking around with the customers. I really enjoyed walking around with the people and helping them find things like clothes and sheets. It kind of took me back to my American Eagle days, but for a much better cause. We won't be there this week because they are closed, so we will just be at Soma, the VRC, and doing assessments.
We have four more weeks here. Everyday I am more and more excited to be seeing friends and family again. Thanks to everyone for birthday wishes and cards, it all really meant a lot to me.