Sunday, July 17, 2011

Home Stretch

So, I have obviously neglected my blog the last two weeks, but I'm back in Denver!

The work in Tuscaloosa continued to be more of the same; debris removal, relief center work, damage assessments.  Every day was a different experience and sometimes a struggle.  I will let the pictures do the talking...

Debris Pile- My team worked for about a week on these two lots.  We worked with several other teams to help clear the twisted vegetative debris from the area.  It was hot, hard work.  At any given time we had about four chainsaws running and about ten of us pulling the limbs and rolling the stumps.  We cleared a lot of the debris, but there was still plenty left to do.

Don't be fooled by this dogs fluffy poodle appearance; he is a killer.  While we were out doing damage assessments, I ran into this big guy.  I didn't think much of strolling into this backyard since there was no fence, but that was a mistake.  This guy was laying under the porch when he spotted me.  He charged at me, and I sprinted to the side of the yard, praying that his chain would run out before he got to me.  It did thank God.  This proved to be a bad omen for this day of assessments.  A few houses down Emma and I ran into a not so nice man.  We asked if we could provide him with some information about debris removal and FEMA loans, and he immediately assumed that we worked for FEMA and took out two months worth of frustration on Emma and I verbally.  Sometimes no matter how hard you try to do the right thing for people, you will always find that one with a chip on his shoulder.

Sadly, the bad day didn't stop there.  We were finishing up the end of the street when a storm came through.  We were not aware that this particular storm was classified as a sever thunderstorm, of which the city of Tuscaloosa take very seriously.  The rain started coming down in sheets while Emma and I hid under the porch of a house.  Greg and Mitch waited for us in the car until we could make a break for it.  It was so windy that the rain was blowing sideways, as you can see in the above picture.  Just a few minutes after we got in the car sheets of tin were being flung into the truck, skimming the roof and hitting the sides of the vehicle.  It was a very scary experience, but we were all ok.

I was very sad to say goodbye to Kyle and Debbie (our hosts) and the city of Tuscaloosa.  The community, with the exception of that one man, was so gracious of our presence and help, and Kyle and Debbie grew to be like family for most of us.  We know that we will always have a home there if and when we decide to come back.  I am hoping to convince my dad that we should go back in a month or two and help with a building project down there.  They will definitely be needing another large response now that the debris removal for volunteers is mostly finished and the city will be handling most of the larger stuff that is left.

So, now I am back in Denver.  We arrived this past Thursday and have an entire week off.  It is nice to be back and not have to worry about meetings and briefs immediately after.  Right now I am enjoying time with Chris, as he has taken a few vacation days from Colorado Springs.  We have just been hanging out and planning our return to the Carolinas.  I am so looking forward to being home and enjoying a vacation at the beach with the family.