Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Day Eight

Today we continued to work for Catholic Charities to demolish a building on their grounds that served as a food bank. The day got an unusual start (which we will elaborate on later) but first click below to see Team Mannshaft capture the days highlighted event; the building COMING DOWN!

Morning came late today! Okay, well, morning came whenever it usually does, but we didn’t face it until we felt like it. Shawny and Courtney decided that they wouldn’t wake us up at all today, instead letting us sleep as long as we could. We loved it! Most people still got up just after 8:00 a.m., but some slept until almost 10:00. Two people who shall remain nameless slept until almost noon!

Courtney did not enjoy the delayed wakeup as much as the rest of us, because she decided to spend the day doing our laundry so that we could save some money from our huge drop-off laundry bills last year. She collected everyone’s load individually, washed it separately, and folded every piece. It took her ALL day. Now we love Courtney even more than ever!

One reason for our late morning was the weather. It was a cold and rainy morning, making it difficult to jump up and do the things we usually do. The actual temperature wasn’t all that cold (40s or so) but somehow we felt like we were freezing.

The second reason for our late morning was that we switched bus drivers today. Dan flew out to return to Indiana and Leo flew in to take over the driver’s seat. Because the switcheroo happened at about 10:30 in the morning, we needed to leave either early or late. We chose late.

The third reason for our slow wakeup was the fact that we are all just really tired. We don’t get quite enough sleep, we work really hard every day, we eat weird food, and we live in a constant state of eager anticipation, hoping not to miss anything. It’s exhausting. So we slept in.

We had expected to finish the roof back at the Habitat for Humanity house where we worked on Saturday. They couldn’t take us, though, because they had 1000 volunteers scheduled for today and there was no way to give us exclusive rights to Natasha’s house to work on the roof. Besides, it was raining. Even before we knew it would rain, the Habitat folks predicted that with today’s inexperienced volunteers they could not do roof work anyway, so we hope to get another opportunity to return.

We considered several other possibilities, but we kept circling back to the one that fascinated us most: knocking down that building back on the St. Raymond’s lot. We talked about it over a late breakfast and decided to go for it. A few people who really didn’t relish the idea of working in the cold rain decided to go sand floors at Don’s house. The rest of us gathered round to make that building fall DOWN.

Shane had cooked up the overall best plan, including cutting the studs on one face of the house, then making diagonal cuts on the studs along the side. All of us would pull the building down with ropes that we attached before any cuts were made. Once we determined that this plan could unfold safely, we gave it a try. It worked. We cheered up and down the block, giving high fives all around.

The Catholic Charities folks said that they were “astounded.” They couldn’t believe how far we had gotten yesterday and today they got a big kick out of watching us plan and execute the big drop. So did we.

We hadn’t started until 2:30 or so, leaving us with very little time to remove the lumber from the site after the house fell. We worked until darkness approached, then packed up until we can return tomorrow.

Unfortunately, one event that precipitated our departure was a phone call from the crew at Don’s house letting us know that one of their team was hurt. Julie had a pre-existing back problem that got aggravated badly enough to require medical attention. As Justin drove her to the church so that Shawny could accompany her to the hospital, we learned that ANOTHER team member was hurt: Kellie. She was pulling nails with a crowbar and somehow twisted her elbow in a direction that it shouldn’t go. She joined the car that was headed to the hospital to make sure that the injury wasn’t serious. We found it a bit funny that after knocking down a house with not so much as a stray splinter touching any one of us, we were suddenly taking two people to the hospital with injuries totally unrelated to the demolition. Both Julie and Kellie report that they are okay.

These two injuries are not the first that we have experienced, as we have also watched our Habitat for Humanity staffer, Alicia, get cracked on the head with a hammer that was accidentally left in a precarious place and we also watched Shawny’s sister Sherry return to visit us with an eyepatch after having gotten some debris in her eye on Sunday. Alicia recovered quickly right on the spot, but Sherry had to go to the emergency room one day and to two specialists over the next two days to improve her situation. She, too, reports that things are improving quickly. Still, she has extended her NOLA stay for a couple of days to give herself a chance to recover.

All of these injuries – even when they are not life-threatening – help remind us to take seriously the safety measures we all have discussed and to wear our safety equipment whenever we are on the job. So far everyone has remained very committed to following the agreements that we set out before we even arrived in Louisiana.

We still have work to do at St. Raymond tomorrow, so we will no doubt start our day there. More then . . .

This was taken yesterday when the building still stood…

This was taken today after the building was demolished. The pile yesterday consisted of the contents of the inside of the building. Today the pile grew as we placed wood from the outside of the building.

Setting up ropes…
We attached ropes to the main supports of the building. We then went in the street in groups of two or three and pulled the ropes to bring the building down.

Once we pulled the building down we began taking the roof apart with hammers and saws.

Crazy Emily…
At the request of Catholic Charities we tried to save all the salvageable boards that were from the building. Emily chose to wear shorts while removing nails from these boards so as not to get her jeans wet.

Aaron shows us how it’s done, using a sledgehammer to break down the remaining pieces of the house.

Team Knucklebusters capture a three picture sequence of the Nola group pulling down the house at Saint Raymond’s School. Despite the cold and rainy weather, we all managed to pull through and bring the house down.

This is the rubble leftover from our day of work. The rain forced us to retreat back to camp, but we hope the weather clears up and permits us to return and finish our job.

Sleeping before a long day of work, Emily of team Mannschaft (which is German for team) is catching up on some much needed sleep after yesterday’s exhausting effort clearing the house for total demolition!

Here Chris surveys the house before demolition begins. Deciding our final plan our action, cut, pull, and safety first (let it be known that no one was hurt in the tearing down of this structure).

This picture shows “projects” located behind the school where our job site was located. There are no occupants in these homes and there has been no effort to reopen and relocated people into these homes. This community is literally desolate and forsaken.

SUCCESS! The building has come down. Despite popular unbelief the SMC NOLA crew came together to clear, salvage valuable parts, and ultimately level this structure to the ground. With a few relief cuts and some strategically applied force, the building came down with a few quick tugs. Proving the great and powerful versatility.

KING OF THE MOUNTAIN, Justin with a heart full of pride and joy over the successful demolition of the house. With Justin and his brother Chris leading the way, we came, we saw, and we conquered.

Feke sits in our kitchen tent and enjoys the delicious dinner the Fab 5 (Vince, Megan, Yessenia, Kate and Jed) prepared. On the menu tonight was angel hair pasta with shredded chicken and marinara sauce.

At our make-shift kitchen sink, Janeva cleans up her dishes with a smile.

Strike a pose! Kate sure does love her water!