The team left at 6:40 am from the Church of the Resurrection parking lot in Leawood, KS. Two and a half hours later we checked into the reception center in Eureka, KS. They gave us a “map”…X is where we started .. O is where we were going. Fortunately most of the street signs were back up, and we had cellular service so google maps worked just fine!It was 96 degrees, and very sunny and HOT HOT HOT!
We were prepared for chainsaw work, but were needed on tarping jobs… and we didn’t have many tarps, so Jane and Carl went in search of the conference trailer for more supplies. We found it a few blocks away and picked up enough supplies to get the jobs done. Our first assignment was a house that had 8 broken windows that needed to be tarped and had 2 holes in the roof. The homeowners me us at the house and said that they had been away when the tornado hit, and they were fortunate to just have the damage they did as a house a block away was destroyed. 78 houses were damaged – 10 totaled and 12 “unlivable”.
Ken and Brenda had the windows tarped in record time, and Jerry and Melissa used the lift to get to the top of the two story house to tarp the holes! Loyd and Jane helped clean up the debris in the yard- there was a lot of broken glass, nails, and debris. We have all ages and skill sets on our teams. You don’t have to be skilled. And tall is good. You can’t teach height! But, disaster response is not all tarping and being on ladders and running chain saws. It is also includes contacting the homeowners, as many will try to “just do it themselves” and either are too proud to ask for help, or just don’t know who or where to go to. Often, they just need someone to comfort them and listen.
The homeowner of our second house to repair, a young woman, and two friends had been working all day when we got there after lunch, and were hot and exhausted, and very grateful to have help. They had done good work, but didn’t have the tools or tarps or materials to finish, which is what we provided. They were extremely thankful for the help. This house had a metal roof and metal siding, which made tarping and patching more difficult. We cut a piece of roofing to cover the big hole and screwed it down. By 3:00 in the afternoon we could have cooked bacon and eggs on that roof!
While we try to have some fun, it is serious and a bit dangerous work, and there are often tears shed while listening to the homeowners. They are exhausted, and grateful for any help. We packed up and left around 4:30, and were home by 7:00. We left with 8 and brought 8 home- no injuries, a very good day! Just a few days after the tornado the news media is gone, and the big trucks and excavators and trucks will be gone, and the people will still need help. Soon they will move to the next phase, and we’ll begin helping rebuild to permanently fix the damage.