September 20, 2018
5:15am June 23: Rainbow Cab pickup for the shuttle to Philadelphia International Airport, toting two carry-on bags that contained boots, work gloves, tool belt, sheets, towels, church clothes, jeans, and t-shirts, etc.!
Destination: Houston, TX
Objective: Hurricane Harvey Relief team organized by Paoli Presbyterian with members from St. John’s Presbyterian of Devon and WPC in conjunction with Attack Poverty/Friends of Northside and Agape Development.
Nearly a year after the flooding, many homes still need rehabilitation before they are safe for occupancy. Our group worked on two homes- a large two story in what appeared to be a relatively affluent neighborhood and a small ranch style in a working class area north of the city.
Sunday we worshiped at our host church, a very historic huge stone structure in Houston’s Museum District. Across the street was our “home” for the week, a spacious, fascinating office/home complex that was air-conditioned! We were provided with double height twin air mattresses, a kitchen stocked for making lunches and breakfasts… and much appreciated washer and dryer! Several afternoons, church members arrived with delicious dinners- most welcome after hot days of solving problems in rehabs! Sunday afternoon we met with our agency reps, visited both sites and walked the beautiful avenue lined with stately churches and museums, ending the day with delicious carry out Texas Bar-B-Q.
Larry and I worked on the ranch house. Our tasks were described as: remove pine paneling due to potential mold contamination, anti-mold spraying, insulating, drywall installation, (the lower sheet removed by the home owner), painting if possible. Oh, and a bit of ceiling work in several places… “Pandora” had hidden several of her boxes behind the surfaces in Leonard’s home! Numerous surprises were discovered, as the realities of the stress on structures in a hot, humid environment were revealed! Our team of 7-10 attacked each challenge and creatively addressed reconstruction with the homeowner’s daily assistance.
Larry served as crew chief and primary construction leader. Crew members from Paoli and St. John’s attacked drywall installation. Nancy led the spackle crew, teaching several females the fine art of the “Texas Patch”… thanks to Jay Eberhardt for this skill!.. and filling cracks, irregular seams, areas where silverfish had devoured the paper surface of drywall … thanks to Doug Fisher for the finishing lessons learned in many years of WPC Work Camps in Garrett County MD and Habitat Houses in Coatesville!
Demolition, mold spraying and insulation were the tasks on Monday. Tuesday the bathroom ceiling fell on Larry’s head, revealing termite and silverfish damage and the need to creatively reconstruct. There were daily adventures, but when we departed Friday afternoon, Leonard’s house was on its way to again being his home. Some spackling remained, but the next work group coming to Friends of Northside had what seemed to be a “clear path” to completion!
As we walked through the Philadelphia airport from our flight home on Saturday, June 30, we were serenaded by a gospel choir waiting departure for their own, melodic mission. It was a wonderful week being His Hands!