Help with Cleanup in Slidell

September 21, 2005

After the drive from Atlanta and the afternoon work party at the Moyles, I was exhausted enough to get a good night's sleep. We were up and ready for another day, planning to meet Larry and Jay and join in the work.

It was nice to see the girls settled in at home, with Jordan doing her schoolwork and Elyse playing in the floor. Darla was overseeing the schooling process.

We drove to south Slidell into the Kingsport neighborhood near where we had previously visited Pastor Larry McEwen's house. If yesterday's tree-damaged houses in Pearl River engaged our sympathy, these sights were like a kick in the stomach. All of people's belongings sitting on the street, as far as you could see on street after street. The five or six feet of flood water from Katrina's tidal surge had destroyed everything on the bottom floors of these nice houses.

The house-to-house searches and the marking of all the flood-ravages houses had been completed by the military. Now we just saw a lot of military patrols to provide additional security to the areas.

There weren't nearly as many pine trees in this area as in the Moyle's neighborhood, but very few of the trees that were there were left standing. Most of them were on top of houses. It just compounded the sorrow of the loss from the flooding.

Consider the storm story told by this picture. The pine in the center is snapped off maybe 25 feet high. But before it snapped, it was being whipped back and forth by the fierce winds. It rubbed the bark off two trees next to it, suggesting that it was being flexed back and forth almost to the ground in both directions!

This is what these nice houses had to come to before any rebuilding could begin. All the ruined household furnishing were just piled in a heap by the street. Then the sheetrock, ruined by five feet or so of standing water, had to be ripped out and piled on top of their furniture at the street. Then after pressure washing, fungicides and coating with barrier layers, perhaps rebuilding could begin.

I think you would call this being involved in the lives of people of your church. Above are the pastor (Larry McEwen), associate pastor (Jay Victory) and minister of counseling (Jeff Nave) of Northshore Church involved in ripping out the sheetrock from the flood-ravaged home of one of the members of the church.

At left on a break from tearing out and shoveling sheetrock, pastor Larry tries to be in touch with some of his church members.

After a little time spent with Larry and Jay, Jeff and Rod launched out to another house in south Slidell where both the front and back yards were covered with tree debris. It was one which wouldn't require heavy equipment, and was requested to be high on our priority list by Jim and Connie Chester . The lady, who lived alone, had been one of Connie's patients in physical therapy. That's all we knew at the time.

The dark waterline from where the water from the storm surge of Katrina had stood on the house was clearly visible on the back of the house.

The busy composite above tells the story of one pine tree in the back yard that was snapped off at about 20ft above ground. This was a pattern we saw a lot. Jeff was able to toss a rope over it. Jim Chester put tension on it while Jeff notched and cut the tree. It hinged over nicely into the yard and was then easy to cut up.

Note that in the background are huge piles of furniture and debris where the neighbors have pulled out their furniture and wall material and placed it on the street. Both sides of the street were lined with these heaps of household belongings, but the lady who owned this house had not been able to start with that process. The large amount of tree debris blocked access to the house.

The next challenge facing us was the removal of what appeared to be a 40ft pine tree that was lying on the house. As had happened to us before, we discovered later that it was the top forty feet of a huge pine tree about 90ft tall at the back of the lot which had snapped off and blown across the yard to land on the house.

Jeff cut off all the limbs he could reach to lighten it and then notched the top and undercut it in two sections to drop it off the house.

Getting this tree down off the house and hauling it to the road was the last major task in the cleanup. I had spent a couple of hours cutting up the magnolia treetop that had fallen on the driveway, so we had provided access to the front of the house. We pulled the van in and Jeff used it to climb onto the roof to clean it and pull out the pine limb that had punctured the roof and kitchen ceiling. He found over three feet of limb had punched down through the roof.

Jeff with the equipment we used to clean up the yard. This was at lunch before we cleaned up the large pile of debris behind him. It was about 95 F and humid, so this was the hottest day's work I have done in a long time - we were soaked with sweat. I drank more than a gallon of water in the process - which amazed me. Also amazing to me was the fact that all my joint pain was actually better the next day!! We attributed that to all the hydration.

Since we didn't know the lady who owned the house, I walked across the street to talk to another resident who was still carrying his household belongings out to the street. He said he knew her only to speak to her, but was glad we were helping her since she only had one arm. So we understood then why Jim had asked for her house to be a high priority. Later, Jim clarified that she had had shoulder surgery and severe carpal tunnel syndrome and had little use of the arm. She had been in Connie's physical therapy program and that had been the point of contact.

At left above is the view down the street from the front side of the house we were working on. At right is the view immediatly beside her corner house on the perpendicular street.

Standing at the street in front of this lady's house, it was still hard to get your mind to accept that these were all the household belongings of the people who lived here. They lined the streets for as far as you could see.

Our final step at this house was to go back over the next morning with a piece of plywood and tarpaper and screw a patch over the hole where the limb went through. We had planned to do some more tree work, but with hurricane Rita barreling in, I decided to head back for Atlanta.

Leaving in pouring down rain from the outer rain bands of Rita, I headed north. I soon ran out of the rain and the van ran fine until I reached Post Road, about 30 miles from home at about 10PM. Suddenly, the engine just shut off. I was running about 70 mi/hr and was able to coast to the off ramp at Post Road and call Brenda. The State Patrol stopped and called a wrecker for me and we loaded all the stuff in the Toyota and made it home a little before midnight.

On to Nashville

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