Today was a partly cloudy day with some sunshine at times. We had some dark clouds and threats of rain but only got a few sprinkles. They don’t need any more rain in this area. They had some heavy rains early last week and the ground is still saturated. The Mississippi River is in flood stage already and they haven’t got the northern snow melt water yet. Hopefully we can get down to the river tomorrow afternoon and get some pictures. Rita and Dave were down there this afternoon and said it was impressive.
For breakfast today we had a wonderful omelette. Our construction coordinator’s wife has chickens and he brought us a dozen very fresh eggs. Thanks, Charles! Today was official move in day and we now have all six couples and RVs safely in place. It was great to meet the new arrivals and start getting to know them. Always good to get everyone settled in. We also helped unload food for the college kids today, lots of food, and moved in some additional furniture for them as well. We will attend church together in the morning here at Francis Asbury UMC and then have our opening team meeting at 6:00 tomorrow evening. Tonight we are still waiting for the bus load of 50-60 college kids to arrive. Suspect our quiet little parking lot will change drastically in the next 30 minutes. Hope everyone is having a good weekend.
Today was another beautiful day in Baton Rouge. Again a little cool in the morning but short sleeves were needed by noon. The azaleas are in full bloom and beautiful. They are having a beautiful spring here. Rita and Dave arrived today and said it was 28 at their house in Hoover this morning. They really enjoyed the warm temperatures this afternoon.
This morning we worked on team paperwork, and then drove over to Baker, LA, about 30-35 minutes away. We saw many homes still boarded up and others that looked abandoned. Remember this flood occurred on August 11, 2016 when 24-36 inches of rain fell as a result of a no-name tropical storm. There is still evidence of the flood all around. There are entire neighborhoods where almost all the homes were flooded and there are small FEMA trailers in almost every yard. Some parishes (counties) had 75% of the homes damaged. The UMC currently has over 300 homes owners fully vetted and waiting for assistance. We will begin working on one of the homes in Baker Monday morning. After 19 months there is just still so much damage. Our home owner, Richard, age 70, had eight feet of water in his home. It was the home he was born in. His parents built the house. The house was condemned and demolished. Richard bought a modular office building and will be making it his home. We will tell you more about this project as time goes on.
After meeting with Richard, the construction superintendent and his assistant at the job site, reviewing some drawings and making plans for Monday, we returned to FRED, had a light lunch and then welcomed Rita and Dave to Baton Rouge. Later in the afternoon, we helped unload more mattresses for the 54 college students staying here at the church who will spend their spring break volunteering here in Baton Rouge. Pastor Laraine came by to say hello to the early arriving team members and we had a really nice visit with her. She is in charge of all the UMC disaster response for the state of Louisiana. We all decided to go to Rice and Roux for dinner tonight. All seven of us enjoyed our dinners and the company was even better. Looking forward to the arrival of the rest of the team tomorrow.
This morning was quite cool with jackets the dress of the day. It warmed up quickly but with the wind we wore jackets any time we were not working in the sun.
First order of business this morning was a visit to the locally owned doughnut shop, Mary Lee Donuts. It seemed to also be a gathering place for some elderly (considerably older than us) locals. Seemed the bakers knew everyone who came in the door but us. And the other patrons seemed to all know each other. We know why people gather here because the doughnuts were great. We tried the cinnamon roll, apple fritter and blueberry doughnuts. We would purchase them all again. But, there were so many options we might try something different next time.
After breakfast found a weed eater and worked on neatening up the area around where the RVs will be parked. As we were starting on that project we saw a couple walking toward us and realized it was Jo and Mark. There are on our team for next week and came over from New Orleans to scout out their route. It was so great to see them. We visited for a while and then they decided they really didn’t want to stay in New Orleans any longer and went back and packed up and moved to Baton Rouge this afternoon. Fun times!
After Jo and Mark headed back to New Orleans we did the grass cutting/trimming and cleaning the area. We also went through the tool room to become familiar with the tools available to us. Then we ran some errands to pick up some supplies and went to lunch at Rice and Roux. Rice and Roux is another locally owned restaurant. They give mission volunteers a 40% discount on their meals. It’s their way of saying thank you to people in town to help their neighbors. Everyone we have met seems very appreciative for the help. We had gumbo and a piece of fried fish for lunch and it was very good. This project is not starting out as a project to lose weight because the ladies from Francis Asbury UMC fed all the volunteers here this week dinner tonight. We didn’t really need another large meal but the ladies were so sweet we couldn’t say know when they came out to the motor home to invite us to join the volunteers working this week. Jo and Mark also joined us. It was a wonderful meal of jambalaya with all the fixings and even better fellowship.
We have an appointment in the morning with the construction coordinator, Charles, to visit our first house tomorrow. Looking forward to that. He was hoping to have materials delivered to our first job site by tomorrow as well. Once again, these people seem to be on top of everything. The conference has over 300 homes of people who have already met all the qualifications for assistance and with the help of UMCOR donations and volunteers like NOMADS, they hope to accomplish a lot over the next few months. There will be 54 college students staying at the church next week and another 64 at another church, so we know they will be really busy next week. After that the NOMADS will basically have the church to ourselves.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018Well, its going to be really cold in Alabama tonight and tomorrow night – freeze warning cold. So we bugged out at 6:45 this morning, leaving Tuscaloosa before there was any traffic. It was a beautiful drive with light traffic all the way. Just south of Tuscaloosa we had a bald eagle flying in perfect view of our big windshield. Beautiful bird. We made a stop at the Mississippi Welcome Center to have breakfast and then a stop at the dump station. We don’t have an easy sewer outlet at Anne’s Mom’s house so this was easier. Next stop was the Louisiana Welcome Center. Here we picked up some information on Baton Rouge and the surrounding area to give to our team members. There seems to be many interesting places to visit on our off time.
We arrived at the Francis Asbury UMC in Baton Rouge about 1:40 this afternoon. Glenda, the Volunteer Coordinator for the Louisiana Conference of the UMC, met us here. We have been exchanging emails since last fall so it was nice to put a face with the name. She is quite organized and frequently supplied answers before we asked questions. She has worked previous relief efforts working with volunteers so she has probably seen it all by now. She has been in Baton Rouge for a long time and is a wealth of information about the area. Rev. David Melville, pastor of the church was also here when we arrived. He will be serving as our host here at the church. This church had 2.5 feet of water in all its buildings last fall when Hurricane Harvey dumped all the rain in this area.
The church at one time had over 300 members and the facilities to handle that number. Now, the small elderly congregation of about 50, had no way of rebuilding after the flood. Since they have a nice campus with ample parking the conference stepped in and took over the real estate, and made it a disaster center. The congregation now worships in a smaller area of the church and the remainder was remodeled with male and female bunk rooms, bathrooms and showers, to house volunteers. They can now house 64 volunteers at a time plus parking for 6 RVs. Guess that’s enough information for tonight. We will be visiting some job sites tomorrow and probably have lots more to tell. Of course, we have also found the doughnut shop nearby. It’s really good to be back to work. By the way, we also got another good report on Aunt Helen today. God’s got this.
It never got very cool last night but we had rain all night. Good sleeping weather. Love the sound of rain on the roof of Fred. It was a good night of sleep. The rain was about over by the time we were up and moving. We went to Bojangles for breakfast and tried one of their new breakfast bowls. We really enjoyed it. From Bojangles we went on to Anne’s Dad’s office and worked with Anne’s brother Sonny on disposing of some old records, some from early 1960s. We will have the shred truck come by and shred everything after we clean out some additional file cabinets. Really don’t see the need to keep every tax return ever filed.
From the office, we went to the estate attorney’s office to sign necessary papers for the probate process. So many things to be done. Anne got a hair cut today, long past due, so she is happy. By lunch time the sun was out, and skies were beautiful blue. We did a little shopping and then got a nice walk on the greenway. Today we walked to Taco Casa, a local Mexican Restaurant, and bought some enchiladas to freeze and take with us to Baton Rouge. Of course then we walked back by the Cookout and just happened to pick up another milkshake. That was not for Baton Rouge. It was quickly enjoyed. It was good to get a little more exercise today. A good day.
Today was a cloudy, rainy, and cooler day. No pretty sunshine today. There was no really hard rain and sometimes it was just a mist but enough you needed a rain coat or umbrella most of the day.
We started our day by going to Walmart to purchase worms for Newdul. It was then on to visit with Aunt Jean at the assisted living in Trussville. She seemed to be doing fairly well with no real complaints. We went through her mail and paid her bills. Max cleaned Newdul’s terrarium and fed him some more worms. For those new to the blog, Newdul is Aunt Jean’s 48 year old box turtle that she raised from an egg. He is quite the hit at the assisted living. When other residents grandchildren come to visit they always want to come give Newdul worms.
Anyway, we had a good visit with Jean and were then on the way back to Oneonta to sign all the admission paperwork for Aunt Helen. Then there was a team meeting with the director of nursing, therapy director, and social worker. Therapy has started their initial assessment and begun designing the therapy care plan with a strong emphasis on balance and lower extremity strengthening while waiting for the clavicle to heal. Once the x-ray indicates adequate healing then they will begin working on shoulder mobility. Because of the two fold nature of the therapy, the length of stay for rehab will probably be considerably longer than the usual 21 days. We also had a nice long visit with Helen and went to the dining room with her. Today she read the ticket that comes with her tray each time. It has a note added “Do not put dessert on tray until after resident eats her meal because she will eat only sweets.” Today she nailed us and asked “Did you tell them that?” Guilty as charged. She wasn’t upset. We all just had a good laugh because she knows it is true. She is enjoying the food at rehab, especially the desserts. Today she ate well and then ate two desserts because one of her table mates gave her an extra dessert. Donna went by to see Helen this afternoon and called and gave us a good report. Thanks so much Donna. It was really hard to leave today knowing we are scheduled to be gone a month. We are trying so hard to not worry about Helen. We know God has got her and the entire situation. We just need to trust Him.
After leaving rehab we went back to Pine Mountain, hooked up the truck, jumped into Fred and headed to Tuscaloosa in short order. Tonight we are parked in Anne’s Mom’s driveway again. A quick setup, and then we took a nice walk on the greenway and just happened to walk to Cookout and had a great milkshake for supper. Tonight we feel we are starting to relax a little for the first time in many weeks. Know we are now relaxing because Max has been on the internet looking for doughnut shops in Baton Rouge and has found one within walking distance of where we will be parked. Now that is dangerous! So tomorrow there is work to be done in Tuscaloosa and then on to Baton Rouge for doughnuts, gumbo and yes, some work.
Today was another beautiful day as predicted yesterday. Wow! They got it right two days in a row. And it was good. Chilly morning, 39 again, and didn’t seem quite as warm as yesterday this afternoon. It was a beautiful day to get our walking in again. We got about 5 miles today. Getting outside exercising is more than good for our heart. It is really good for our spirit. Last week we climbed steps in the hospital but that was about it. It was really good to get back outside. Very thankful for today.
Also thankful for our worship service and Sunday school class at Lester Memorial UMC today. Both were really good and since it was the first Sunday of the month we celebrated Holy Communion. Always a special time.
After Sunday school we returned to the rehab facility to visit with Helen. Donna and Barry were there as well. Helen seemed to be doing well. She was smiling and laughing and really appreciated Donna’s and Barry’s visit. We left Helen eating lunch with some of her new friends in the dining room. She makes friends easily and we hope she will end up enjoying her time at rehab. Therapy will start tomorrow so we will see how things go then. She did really well with therapy at the hospital and we hope that continues. So thankful that we have family and friends who will continue to visit and encourage her daily in our absence.
Other than a little nap and our walking, we spent the afternoon doing our final packing. We are now one step and ½ mile closer to Baton Rouge. After our final loading, we moved Fred to the end of our driveway, out to Aunt Helen’s house for a dry camping night. We decided it would be nice to just be able to get in Fred and head out after we finish some business for Aunt Jean and meet with the team at rehab to complete all of Helen’s paperwork. We are hoping it will be shortly after lunch but whenever it is, we will be ready to roll.