Bye, bye Bart!

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

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

     Wellll, Brother Bart and Baby Alysssa are heading back to Boston tomorrow.  The Plaquimines parish portion  of Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders is really winding down now.  We went over to Alabama this past Sunday/Monday to make a last ditch effort to see if we could move the camp over there instead of mothballing the operation.  The same tornado that hit Tuscaloosa on April 27th touched down again later in the day in numerous spots near Birmingham, Alabama.  It wiped out a whole small town just outside Birmingham call McDonald Chapel.  It had approximately 100 homes there before the storm hit and only about three standing when it left.  We also visited another site called Pratt City that had around 1400 homes destroyed.  Our guide for our Monday morning tour was Rick Ousley, a beautiful man with a huge heart for the mission(s) he is involved with.  He's the Volunteers of America guy on the ground in McDondald Chapel and has overseen the recovery for the past three months.  All of the destroyed homes have been removed and sites, trees, and debris have been removed.  FEMA had a 90/10 agreement with the state that the feds would pickup 90% of the tab for debris removal and the locals take care of the rest with the condition, though that it would only be in place for 90 days from the time of the tornado.  They didnt get started for about a month, so the window was closing rapidly.  In McDonald Chapel, with less than a week or two to go, a coalition of churches (one of who's asst. pastor we met was Mark Johnson) raised $36,000 to pay a local construction company with heavy equipment to clear the last remaining 30 lots of broken houses, trees, etc. and push it to the street where the FEMA  contractors would then pick it up and haul it away.  So, they are in good shape for rebuilding, however, not quite enough of the pieces are in place yet to actually start rebuilding.  As pastor Mark said in our afternoon meeting at this church, they felt like they went as far as they could and now had kind of hit a brick wall and realized they need ten times that amount of dollars to proceed. There is the question of whom among the residents will be returning. (Another tornado came on the same path in 1992 and people are tired of building their houses and then having them knocked down again.  Rick is in touch with a German firm caledl Villa in a Box that is trying to introduce a new building product- Power Concrete- that is a precast concrete panels that act as a form and then are filled with aerated concrete and produces a fireproof, tornado proof and flood proof structure.  They have recently set up a production plant in Alabama.  The one homeowner who we met with Rick on Monday morning wants to build a bunker-type home of  some sort and this new product may be just what the doctor ordered.  Rick is a pastor and mentor to other pastors.  He started a church ten or so years back with 30 congregants and it grew to over 5,000.  They were about to build a new eleven million dollar curch building in 1992 when the previous tornado hit Birmingham. A neighboring church was completely wiped out and Rick went to his congregation and let them know what was on his heart and that was he felt they should rebuild the church that was destroyed before they build their own new one.  The congregation agreed and they turned their architects, engineers and $700,000 over the the neighbor church and they had it built.  Beautiful!  And never alerted the media as to what had been done.   It will be a hard road, but with Rick Ousley in their corner, McDondald Chapel has a chance at coming back.
     In the meantime, we got final inspecitons passed today at Orangewood and Fosters -  just need the C of O and both of those families can move in.  Down at Jump Basin today, the parish was out digging around and located the sewer line for the plumber to tie his lines in to.  Last detail on that home for Mr. Buras is to get the utility poles set and power on to the house.  Trying to wrap all that up this week.  Bart has asked me to help line up all of the final paperwork (owner walk-thru and checklist, waivers of lien,  C's of O, etc.  Not where I sparkle, but let's see.
    Wondering what's next for yours truly.  I've got a number of invites here and there for employment opportunities, possible visit to help out big sis in new hampshire, maybe work with Brandon at Habitat/Tuscaloosa-  and there's always the 50/50 to complete-  Like I said-  Let''s see. . .. . Till then,  Peter

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Bob Johnson on me or give me a call (404)483-1038. I've enjoyed your blog since I jumped in on it from your time in Bay St. Louis last spring! God bless you...let's talk!

John Maas on

That story about the congregation that gave up their plans of a church to help the destroyed church rebuild -- what about floating that story to the media now, with the information about how this rebuild is in serious danger of stalling -- maybe shaking such trees will drop some fruit that will help keep the momentum going.

Just a thought.

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