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We’re baaaaack! Thank you to Mary and Elmer, and Paul and Ruth, who we have worked with before, for agreeing to come back, too!
Our first week of volunteers was a group of nine Old Order Mennonites from Wisconsin and old friend Mike brought a team of five from Ohio. The second week, 20 people from the state of Washington arrived to lend a hand.
We started building a home for Martiana in January 2010. She is a 77-year-old wheelchair-bound widow, that had been living with her adult daughter since Katrina. She was able to move into her house in December and is thrilled! She was very proud to give us a tour and it is beautiful. She couldn’t stop thanking the volunteers or stop talking about how much she loves her new home.
Work began on Carmalita’s house February 2010. The house is on the Grand Bayou, 11 feet above the ground, on pilings. The house has been steadily worked on this past year. So far this year we have finished the plumbing and wiring, and completely painted the interior; the “basement” ceiling was insulated and plywood nailed into place and painted. Laminate and tile floor are being laid.
Mary Ann’s house is also on the Grand Bayou and was started in February 2010. She and brother Bennie have been living in Tennessee and are anxious to get back home. Her house was ready for us to wire, plumb, install the HVAC, and side the exterior with vinyl. Since the house is also on pilings, scaffolding has to be used to work on the outside. Drywall is currently being hung. It was a real trip to get the 12-foot drywall sheets to her house by boat! It took most of one day.
The third house we started building in February of 2010, is Bennie’s. His HVAC was also installed this week and some interior work was done.
Merlen lives on the other side of the Mississippi River. The crews have to take a ferry to get over there. One day it was really foggy and Debbie said it was a very scary ferry! His house is over 100-years-old and was moved to its current location about 10 years ago. He had several pails in the attic to catch the rain, so we tore off the roof and replaced it with metal. The drywall was removed and replaced on interior partitions and ceilings. Some doors have been re-hung, and the crews are busy trimming and shimming! The electrical and plumbing have been roughed in. The siding that was torn loose by Katrina was fixed. Any repairs made to the house we are trying to match the vintage décor.
We fixed the leaking porch roof on Marie’s house by removing a gable, installing ice and water shield and re-shingling that part of the roof. Her porch was anchored down with hurricane strapping and skirting was placed around the base. Kevin reported that she has terminal cancer but her attitude was good. He was glad he took the time to talk to her. This job was completed this week.
We received a phone call from Stanley asking for help. He sounded desperate. His was the only house on the street that survived. There were four or five houses at the end of the street piled on top of each other after Katrina. He doesn’t know how they missed hitting his. He said the water was 23-feet-deep in the area, totally filling his house, evidenced by a little packet that was stuck on the wood beam; it could’ve only gotten up there by floating. He said he is trying to do the work himself, he just needs help with the electrical wiring and maybe plumbing. The relief he felt after being told we could help him was incredibly obvious on the phone. A huge weight had been lifted. Stanley and his family had been living elsewhere. His wife was losing weight and the kids were depressed; they just wanted to come home. So they started living in a small trailer on their property. He said he is so thankful for the Mennonites. We will probably continue to assist him on this project.
Even five years after Hurricane Katrina, the community is still very glad we are here. Paul was on a walk and a passerby stopped to tell him thanks for coming down to help.
Eph. 6:7-8 - “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does…”
Phil and Kathleen Maneikis, Elmer and Mary Friesen, Paul and Ruth Herr, William Janzen, Henry and Tina Klassen, Murray Reimer, Dave and Martha Wolfe
MDS volunteers are known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than construction skills to serve with MDS. During the time that you serve as a volunteer, you will learn that MDS also restores lives.
Your contribution will help to connect volunteers with disaster survivors who need assistance on their path to recovery. MDS depends on the support of people who believe that disaster response is an important part of helping those who are in need.
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