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Trip Start Nov 26, 2010
Trip End Nov 18, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Sunday, July 24, 2011

     This past week closes a chapter of sorts for Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders.  We just sent off our last groups of volunteers who worked with us all week to complete the last of the four new homes we have built here in Plaquimines parish, Louisiana. We had a group of three repeat offenders ( or boomerangers) from Wisconsin-  Alan Park and Lee Struck and Mary the Princess.  Also,   Merle and Michelle Waldron  brought of group of 13 friends from Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota.   The curious thing for both groups was that it was actually cooler down here than back at their homes in Wisc and Minn.  Only in the 80's and nice breeze compared with 100 plus back home all week. The majority of the group had been down to work with us in Biloxi and Texas.  There was one new guy, Gary, who is a Vietnam vet and he drove his Harley down from Minn, half of the way was through rain.  Tough guy.  He used to blow things up.  More about Gary later.   The goal this week was to finish up the home for Mr. Chauvin Buras and be ready for the dedication on Friday.  The main task was to complete the handrails on both sets of stairs, do a lot of touch up painting and cleanup inside the house.  The group arrived on Monday and the first workday was Tuesday morning.  It was pouring down rain.  I attempted to send everyone home, since the bulk of the work was outside, but failed miserably.  They just wouldn't stop working.  In the rain.  At the edge of the house.  tenacious.  I think it was mostly Gary's fault.  So, with that drive, during the rest of the week, all of the tasks were accomplished and there was  a little extra time and extra wood, and being of the creative freedom school when it comes to allowing volunteers to express themselves, they added about 16 feet of extra walkway out towards the street but instead of a deck it looks like a dock.  Merle also made some signage with the router (inlaid letters for name and address as well as a nice welcome sign for the head of the dock. (see pictures).   We had a great dedication on Friday at 11 am.  Mr. Buras had two of his sisters, as well as other assorted nieces and grandkids.  Two of the family were using walkers and would not have been able to make it up the stairs and became "precious cargo"  nudge, nudge, wink wink and tested the cargo lift.  JIm Woodard and Benny Puckett from CPR were there as well as Nicole from United Way and the family selection people.  Mr. Buras was presented the traditional quilt  by Miss Nancy,   Bart presented the invisible Bible, and yours truly gave the key to the new home.  Had the ribbon cuttting, the eating of the cake and then drinks and samiches courtesy of the fambly.
     After the dedication, Steve Martsolf (member of our board and long time volunteer) and I as well as Alan, Lee and Mary did a re-con trip over to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to check out whats next for FCDR.  We arrived around 8:00 pm friday night and were let in to the first Presbyterian Church where we would be spending the night.  Also met up with Brandon Kasteler- an old friend from Biloxi days who is now heading up construction for the local Habitat affiliate in Tuscaloosa.  The tornado that cut through Tuscaloosa  on April 27th of this years destroyed a wide diagaonal swath through the city and destroyed around 5500 homes and structures.  It just missed the main hospital.  I had visited there around a month or so ago and there was lots of improvement in that time in the way of clearing trees and remains of homes and buildings.  The long term recovery plan is just now getting in place.  The three main Episcopal churches are working together to help with the funding, case work and housing for volunteers although, after three months not much actual re-construction is going on.  Brandon has lit a fire under the Habitat affiliate and in the few weeks he-s been there have purchased two sites, identified the homeowners and has two homes framed up and under roof.  All of the homes will have a safe room built in (but not attached to) the new home built to FEMA standards.  The area they are building on is just outside the city limits and seems like there are no building permits, plans, or inspecitons required.  Tuscaloosa is also the home of the Univ. of Alabama and their football coach has made an extremely generous donation to Habitat to help get the newly revived affiliate up and running and showing that the motto on the tee shirts and signs around town is not just a slogan-  "We're coming back"
     While there, we also visitied a potential site for housing volunteers called Green Acres which is just ideal for us.  Bart will bring his dancing shoes and go make a presentation next week some time to see if he can arrange startup funding.
     In the mean time, for a job well done, Bart got me a ticket back home for a coupla days to Nawthun Virginia to visit family and friends..  Leaving Tuesday, be back Friday then head over to Tuscaloosa.  Looks like the 50/50 providence may be prolonged further still. . . . .as always, stay tuned-   Peter
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