Saturday morning we went to Houma. I guess you could call this Ground Zero of the hurricane since the storm went directly through the town of Houma. We went for two reasons. They told us that both the camp and the camp manager's house were destroyed. "Destroyed" is a dramatic word. Not "damaged", not "hit"--"destroyed" as in not useable and have to either be scrapped and started over or totally re-built.
And that's what we found.
Our first stop Saturday morning was to Kevin's house about fifteen minutes from the camp in Houma. When we drove up, it didn't look too different from what we knew we were looking at--an older, used single-wide mobile home. Then we noticed the roof was gone. Then we walked around to the back of the house and saw that the entire back wall of the house was simply gone. The walls between the bedrooms,kitchen and bathrroom were gone, too.
We started bagging stuff up. One group took all the clothes they could find and brought them back to the camp. We've been washing clothes ever since. Another group wrapped up the glass and delicate collectibles. Then the last group just bagged stuff that had to be trashed. We found a few photographs that we tried to lay out to dry. I noticed they were all recent pictures. Kevin's family didn't have anything older than 3 years because they lost everything once before.
After lunch about half of us went to the camp in Houma to help clean up the camp.
the tents had been blown away so swiftly that pieces of them were caught in the trees. Most pieces were blown so far away that we didn't even try to find them. There was talk of "what if"...but I don't think we could have saved them no matter what. What if we had strapped them down with the metal hurricane straps? I think the wind would have just shredded the plastic.
The large tents are usually used as a dining area for most camps. But the Elks Lodge had built a building for us that they plan to use after we leave. So the former dining tent was being used for storage.
We are starting to think how we can bring things back to a condition for the work teams we are all expecting the middle of September. Fortunately, the Houma people will have a dining hall. They don't have anywhere to sleep, though. They can probably sleep at the Luling camp while they work on getting Houma back up. We did this in March of 2006 when we helped build the Houma camp.
There was talk around the staff that we needed to take care of ourselves for what we would see at Houma. I did this by emailing everybody in my address book I could call on to pray for me. And, gol-durned if it didn't work. I was able to work without being overwhelmed by the horror I was seeing. Right now it's so hot and humid that I operate on automatic sometimes. I just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. We're getting ready to evacuate for Ike. Now that we're prepared we'll have time to take down a couple of our tents. If the Houma tent had been taken down it would have saved Jesus a lot of money. So we've been emptying the storage tent most of the day. It was a chance to weed out stuff that really needed to be trashed. (AND I've learned a new word Canadians use for when they throw something away. They "turf" it. I asked Mary where the word came from and she couldn't tell me. In fact, she ended up very puzzled over the word. One of those words that are just part of talking. Canadian talk. I'm sure Texas doesn't have any words like that.) Taking the tent down was actually the easiest part. Gravity, you know.
So, thanks to the folks that prayed for me. It made a difference. We're still washing some of Kevin's family's stuff. I may go to bed early.