Flashback to our first Disaster Rebuild

Saturday, February 18, 2017

It was another beautiful day in Elmore City. It was cloudy first thing this morning, cleared and was really nice. It was a stay at home day with cleaning, laundry and accounting work to be done. The newest addition to our team, Pat and Scott arrived early afternoon. We worked with them on our first DR project in Gulf Breeze, FL and at Vashti Childrens home in Georgia. We are so glad to be with them again. They are a great addition to our team and we look forward to working with them the next 2 weeks. We took enough time for some walking for exercise but otherwise it was pretty much a working day. Pat and Scott being here made us think of our first NOMADS trip after our return from Alaska in September 2014. (the last time we blogged.)

Gulf Breeze DR Team

We worked the first 2 weeks of the Gulf Breeze Disaster Rebuild Project, November 3-14, 2014. We had a great team that really came together well. We knew no one when we arrived, but by the end of the second week we really, really didn’t want to leave. Just loved those folks. Gulf Breeze flooded in the spring of 2014. It rained over 26 inches in less than 24 hours and there was wide spread flooding. The house we worked on had been mucked out and partially rebuilt. The homeowner had used all their FEMA money and had no choice but to move back in the house with the kitchen inoperable, no appliances or cabinets, and no interior doors. The drywall was up but still needed some taping and mudding and lots of sanding to be done and then all the painting. Most of the tile work was done. A precious family of four – a grandmother, her daughter and 2 granddaughters were living in the unfinished home. They had a little dorm size refrigerator, and a microwave and some air mattresses on the floor and that’s how they were living. The daughter and her boyfriend worked on the house at night and on the weekends, but they were just overwhelmed and exhausted by the time we arrived. They told us that their puppy woke them up during the night of the flooding. Water was up about mid-calf. They used a kitchen knife to cut through drywall to get upstairs to a bonus room and safely away from the rising water. They were rescued by boat. So, we finished up the home for the beautiful family that lived there and presented them with a Bible signed by the team. It was a lot of really hard work but very, very rewarding.


While in Gulf Breeze we also had lots of fun. blue angels 1.jpgThe Blue Angels were performing their last show of the season so we got to watch their practices right from our campsites and then we all went to the final performance on Sunday afternoon. We also ate really good. We found the largest and best seafood market – Joe Patti- we have ever visited. On one of team member’s suggestion, we bought some of the Royal Red shrimp. And of course we also had an order of the beignets from the food truck right outside the market. The Royal Reds were phenomenal.

Overall – it was a great two weeks – such a blessing to be able to participate –and we highly recommend others find a way to participate in similar mission work. You will be so blessed.

Tomorrow we will have church and covered dish dinner. NOMADS really enjoy eating and maybe we will find out more about Elmore City and Footloose.

Trip to Norman

Friday, February 17, 2017

This is the first Saturday of the NOMADS week so we slept in a little, had breakfast and then drove north about an hour to Norman, OK. Gwen and Gary went with us. Our target was the University of Oklahoma (OU) campus, but before we went there we stopped at Jason’s Deli for lunch. We all enjoyed our food, especially the free ice cream.  After lunch it was on to OU for our 1:00 tour of the National Weather Center. The tours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but they do not allow walk-ins. You must preregister online. The National Weather Center is a 250,000 sqft, 5 story building housing the OU meteorology school, as well as the center for climatology, the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center, the NWS Norman Forecast Office and other university and government offices. There was a short video before the tour began and then an OU student lead our tour. We had a large group which included several high school seniors who were considering attending OU. The first stop on the tour was the observation deck on the top floor. view-from-deckThere is an outside deck as well as an inside/glass walled area ideal for watching storms approach. From the observation area you can see a long way. With no hills/mountains to block your view it would be a great place for watching storms and tornadoes move in. There is all sorts of equipment on the roof gathering information to assist in forecasting and research. From there we moved to the 5th floor which houses the OU School of Meteorology. There are all the necessary offices, research areas and labs to support the school.

Storm Prediction Center

On to the 2nd floor, and we visited the Storm Prediction Center and the local weather office. All severe thunder storm watches and tornado watches for the lower 48 states are issued by the Storm Prediction Center as large polygons.

Norman WFO

Once the polygons are drawn, the local forecast offices determine which counties in their forecast areas are included in the watch. There are at least 4 people on duty in the SPC at all times to follow the weather systems moving across the US. Doesn’t really seem like enough people to cover the entire country.

The tour ended at the Flying Cow Cafe – a reference to the cows in the movie “Twister”. flying-cowIn the lobby just outside the cafe is a display of three weather sensor pods – two fake ones that were used as props in the movie “Twister” and a real one usesensors by the NWS to try to capture readings inside a tornado. Dorothy (left) and D. O. T. (center) are the props. Toto (right) is real.

animated globe.jpg
Large globe in lobby that has weather and earthquake information projected onto it

The tour was interesting, but somewhat disappointing. We had hoped for more time spent touring the NWS offices, but most of the tour seemed to be a recruiting effort for the OU meteorology school.

After leaving the weather center, we made a stop at Sprouts Grocery store. They had some really good looking fruits and veggies at nice prices today. We loaded up on fruits and veggies since our grocery stores are limited in Elmore City and Maysville. We will have some good food in our lunches next week..

Hope everyone has a great weekend because we are!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Today was another beautiful sunny day. So we have finished our first week on the 2017 Oklahoma Disaster Rebuild Project. It’s been a great week. Today we completed our first assignment. It was a one bedroom, one bath home in the middle of the area that flooded in Maysville. The rebuild began several months ago – “before Halloween” per the home owner. The application process began even before that. The home owner said he had decided that his home was a total loss and he would just get it bulldozed and sell the lot since he didn’t have any insurance and not enough money to do anything else. Someone from United Methodist Disaster Response-Oklahoma came by to see him. He told them they could take a look but…. When he was told they could help him he wanted to know what was the catch. “From my experience ain’t nothing free so what’s the catch.” First a VIM team came in and mucked the house out. A team from Colorado came in and started the rebuild working on the interior and exterior. Several more VIM teams from Oklahoma and  Louisiana worked on the house. Finally this week, we had the joy of completing the final work. Today we finished the painting, installed shelves in the closets, installed bathroom fixtures and generally cleaned up the construction mess.

Finished tub and shower
Finished bathroom shelves
Finished closet
One of many patched walls

It is the tradition of NOMADS that everyone who works on a rebuild writes a note to the homeowner including one of our favorite scriptures, in a Bible that we then present to the homeowner. bible-redactedThis afternoon we presented the Bible to the homeowners of “house #1.” It was so great. The homeowners were so happy and yes tears were shed. A few months ago they were hopeless. Today, with the help of people who love God, they are back in a home that is better than before the flood. What was the catch? Only that he and his wife have been surrounded by the love of God for the past several months. They were truly amazed.

Today some of us also visited the next home we will begin working on Monday. This one has been mucked out but the rebuild has not begun. We have LOTS to do and it will NOT be completed in a week.



After work we drove over to the Elmore City Recreation Area. It is a nice area with baseball and softball fields plus a nice lake with about 4 piers for fishing and a boat ramp. Scout would have loved this place. You can walk all around the lake and there is a nice picnic area. There is also what appeared to us as a fill site for water trucks/fire trucks. Didn’t see any trucks come in but…that’s what it looked like to us.


We had a question about our devotions from one of our readers and asked that we consider sharing a little more about that time. We will try to do that as we go forward. As general information, everyone on the team picks the day they want to bring the devotion. We usually start out by singing “This is the Day” and maybe a prayer. Then there is whatever the person of the day wants to bring – a devotion from their favorite devotion book or some sort of meditation. We have a little discussion as appropriate. We keep a prayer list that we review/add to each day, and have prayer. We sometimes sing another song. The primary thought for today was that we are all called to be seekers. To be a true follower of Jesus means we must become an all-out seeker of Him. Yes, we know him, but there is so much more of Him to know. Proverbs 2:1-6, Jeremiah 2:13. The devotion was taken partially from Seedbed Daily Text.

Tomorrow we plan to go to the National Weather Center and Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK. We have a tour scheduled for 1:00. Should be a fun day.

Sorry, No Snow Pictures

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Well, we have no snow pictures for you today. However, much to our surprise the truck was coated in ice when we got up this morning. ice-on-windshieldIt was cold, but the sun came out and it was a bright and sunny day. After devotions we headed back to Maysville. It was a much prettier drive today. After a few cloudy days we really enjoyed the sun today. pretty-drive

We started working where we left off yesterday pushing to try to finish up by tomorrow afternoon. We grouted the tile which completed that project. We all did a lot of caulking. The remaining trim was installed. We got all the holes where sheetrock had been cut for pipes, etc covered and textured. The bathroom ceiling was painted as well as more doors and baseboard. We all worked really hard and we were tired when we got home this afternoon. We are all staying in tonight so we will be ready to push to finish tomorrow. If you don’t remember, NOMADS work Monday-Thursday each week so tomorrow is our “Friday.”





We learned something new about our home for two more weeks. You may remember the picture we used earlier that said “Elmore City, Home of Footloose.” We didn’t know then that the movie “Footloose” and subsequent musical were “loosely based on events that took place in the small, rural, and religious community of Elmore City”. They have a Footloose Festival each year – this year will be April 22. Interesting little town. We will have to ask some of the locals more about this. We would like to hear more about what really happened here versus what was portrayed in the movie. Maybe we can ask some of the older members of the church when we have covered dish dinner Sunday. We will let you know what we find out.

We are responsible for devotional again in the morning so must go work on that. We have what we think are some good plans for Friday so check back.

Happy Valentines Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day everyone!!! Hope you had a wonderful day and most importantly that you remember every day to tell those you love how much they mean to you.

It rained all night last night. That made for some really good sleeping weather with the rain on the roof of Fred. It was raining when we got up and it rained all day. On the way home it rained but also included some frozen stuff too.frozen-precipThey actually changed the forecast and now we have a possibility of ½ inch of snow over night. We don’t think it will amount to much because the ground is just a little too warm. Guess we will find out in the morning.

We of course started the day with devotions. Since it’s only two couples this week we are just meeting in Fred for devotional time rather than going to the meeting room at the church. Next week we may start meeting at the church since we will have another couple. Since we have to drive to Maysville, we are meeting at 7:40 for devotion rather than 8:00. It’s really fun to meet, pray and study with friends first thing in the morning.

After arriving at our job site we continued the projects from yesterday. We finished up the cutting and laying of the tile and will probably try to grout it tomorrow. We painted the shelves for the bathroom closet that we built out yesterday. We also spent a good deal of time filling holes/patching sheetrock, and re-texturing walls. Interior doors were painted and a good deal of time was spent repairing one of the exterior doors. We are making progress but it will take at least 2 more days to finish up this house. It would be nice to finish by Thursday afternoon but ….

Cutting tile
Spreading adhesive
Tile in place
Patching hole in drywall
Painting shelves
Painting door


Since it was Valentines Day and there are very limited choices in restaurants in our area, for lunch we decided to go to Papa’s, the little place attached to the gas station a block from where we were working. Papa’s is known for their char burgers and char fries so that is what we had. The food was good and the company was great and we enjoyed a little bit of the local flavor. We all four said we wouldn’t have gone out to dinner tonight if we have been home, so not having a nice restaurant conveniently located really wasn’t a problem. Remember you can leave comments or send us e-mail and check back in tomorrow to see if there are any snow pictures.



And the work begins!!

Monday, February 13, 217

Today is day one of the NOMADS Disaster Rebuild project in Maysville, OK. Our rigs are in Elmore City, but the flooding on June 12, 2016 was in Maysville about 14 miles north of Elmore City. Maysville is a little town of 1,232 people with slightly more than 21% living below the poverty line. Beef Creek runs thru the middle of the town and with very heavy rain within a matter of a few hours homes in the lower area of town were inundated with more than 2 feet of water. There are some videos of the area showing cars almost under water. There was one news report of cars floating down the streets.

on-siteThe home owner at the home we were working on today said that his dog woke him up about 4:30am and when he got out of bed to let her out there was water up to his ankles. By the time he and his wife left the house it was up to his knees in the bathroom. The flooding quickly receded but left homes ruined and possessions lost. Oklahoma United Methodist Disaster Response became involved and there have been Volunteers in Mission (VIM), teams working in the homes mucking them out and in the home we worked in today, the VIM teams had started the rebuild. We hope to complete this home in the next day or two and it won’t be any too soon for the home owners. They had been staying with family but over the weekend couldn’t wait any longer and moved back into the yet unfinished house sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. They have no other furniture or appliances. After today, all the plumbing is working. YEA!!  Today, in addition to completing the last few pieces of the plumbing,  we started installing the last section of tile in the bath room, installed shelves in the bathroom closet, and worked on some drywall patching and touch up, painting and caulking.

Gwen and Anne caulking and painting trim


Gary working on plumbing

Tub base before tile

Tile installation started

New shelves in bathroom

We will continue more of the same tomorrow working to turn the home back to the owners as soon as possible. It was a good and a fun day working with Gwen and Gary. We have more team members arriving over the next few weeks so then we will be able to do even more. We are tired tonight but it’s a really good kind of tired. We feel so blessed to be able to be here.


Windy City and we aren’t in Chicago

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This morning it was 53 and WINDY. We brought the big slide in on FRED because it was so windy we were afraid of damage to the topper. According to the weather people we had gusts to 50mph. We had planned to walk to church. It’s only about 2 blocks from where we are parked, but with winds steady at 25-26 and much stronger gusts one of us was afraid she might go airborne and we elected to drive the two blocks. The little Methodist church we visited was very warm and inviting. Sweet, sweet people and a very good message. It is a very small congregation, but hopefully they will grow. church2.jpgThey invited the team to a covered dish dinner next Sunday after worship, so of course we accepted. After church we rode down to Paul’s Valley with Gwen and Gary for lunch. There is really just one restaurant we have found in Elmore City and it is closed on Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the day was spent organizing tools in the truck and getting ready to go to work tomorrow as well as working on some accounting and tax stuff. We will all meet in FRED for devotion at 7:40 in the morning so we can be about 13 miles down the road by 8:30 to meet with the coordinator for the relief efforts and then go to work. Praying for a safe and productive week.


By the way, this is the view out our windshield now (splattered bugs and all) – in case you want to compare it to our view at Maumelle Park a few days ago.