Tuesday, February 20, 2007

February 20 The Whole Team Together

Ben called me at about 6:20 this morning to ensure I was up and ready to meet the team for breakfast. I guess yesterday left him unsure as to whether I would make it to breakfast or not.

I met the team at the Armory for breakfast, only to discover a whole lot more than breakfast goes on at the Armory. The Armory is the dinning hall, expediting office, tool and supply rooms, lumber yard and chapel.

Think of the logistics of feeding, managing and supplying a construction team of 300 workers, well the North Carolina Baptist Men's Relief program does just that. Now throw in a caveat that entire work force of 300 people turns over every week and imagine dealing with that every seven days.

see more pictures at http://www.pbase.com/dhnieman/gulfport

While some of the Pathways team is eating, others (usually Ben, Mark, Kyle and Frank) are busily moving from the job board to supply room to tool room to lumber yard gathering the materials and tools to complete the tasks on the job board for the day.

Today the whole team will be working at Barbara's house on McCandlees Drive. The only exception was to be that Ben will first go over Ms Tate's house on 626 28th street to finish installing blinds. Once he's done there he was to rejoin the team.

After the vans were loaded with tools and materials for the jobs, Frank led the caravan to the beach for morning devotions prior to heading out to the job site. That was the picture I selected for the blog today as I learned from this. I liked that Frank and the team took the time to do this. My thought was, "it is 8:00, we better get to the site and get started", but Frank and the team had better priorities and it did not require a lot of extra time plus it contributed to making a much better morning. I then thought, "lesson learned, now to apply it!" Folks who have the distinct pleasure of working with me (tongue in cheek) realise patience is not one of my virtues, and I learned a little from this example set by the team this morning.

Once at the site, everyone jumped right in unloading and setting up the site for the day. There were fascia boards and soffits to replace and paint, scrapping to be done, paneling to be installed and carpet to lay. Abby, Linda and Joel began prepping the soffits for painting, Mark and Frank were installing new fascia and soffits, Casey, Greg, Kyle and Frieder were working inside on the living room walls and floors. Greg was on his knees on the cement slab that is the living room floor, scrapping it clean in preparation for the carpet installation. All the homes in this region are built on a cement slab. No foundation or basement as we in the north usually build. That's why when we drive around Gulfport we see so many lots with just empty cement slabs. It is the only remnant of the the structure that was a home once occupying that spot.

The team was working well together and getting the job done.

I noticed some fellows sitting on the porch of a house across the street and I wandered on toward them. They were neighbors and interested in all the activity going on at the house. Tony and James (James Bond, can you believe that, I thought he was pulling my leg, until he offered to show me his ID) said they remember the day of the storm looking out the window and seeing the roof come off of Barbara's house. They watched as shingles and plywood just began flying into the air. Tony said that coincidentally, during that time the telephone pole with a big transformer on in Barbara's front yard it was swaying back and forth like a shaft of wheat in the wind. And just when they thought that was exciting enough, Tony explained the utility pole in his yard was literally lifted out of the ground and throw on his front lawn. For some reason, probably due to the fact I had my head raised looking at the telephone poles, I noticed the roof of all the houses. All the houses in the neighborhood have what appear to be a brand new roof. Tony and James said, "why all the roofing on every ones house is new. Most houses were, at minimum, completely stripped of shingles." Amazing!

Tony and James said they were fortunate, they had power back after about three weeks. For some, like Arlene described to us last night, it wasn't until the end of December (4 months) before power was connected, that is, if they still had a house to return to and to which to connect power.

The morning slipped by quickly and lunch time drew near. Usually the Armory supplies lunches to the teams. However, to get lunches for the day requires you place an order before 7:30 PM the night before, this allows the kitchen folks time to prepare and pack your lunches and have them ready for you to pick up the next morning. Last night the Pathways team was so rushed they missed the lunch cutoff. Thus, to feed the troops, Frank commissioned me to run to Subway to procure sub sandwiches for 10 folks. They were actually pretty good.

After lunch I left the group and returned to do my thing with the pictures and the web site.

At around 5:00 PM I called Ben, he said they were leaving the site and heading home to take showers in time to be ready for the Mardi Gras parade that was to pass right by their "compound". I packed my camera an headed downtown to join them for the parade.

Float after float passed by pulled by huge semi-tractor trucks. From the floats people threw Mardi Gras beads to the crowd. It was interesting and harmless fun and a big tradition here on the Gulf Coast.

The end of a busy day in Gulfport.

For more pictures from today's activity go to http://www.pbase.com/dhnieman/gulfport

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