Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Very Long Month

It's amazing how time flies or, how one can really fly if pressed for time.  This year has been exciting yet at times totally relaxing.  This past month will explain that comment a bit.

June was spent working and traveling in the perfect weather of the North West U.S.  Could not ask for better working conditions and the scenery everywhere was spectacular.

Those that I worked with were all 'on the same page', loving what they were doing and at times closing their eyes in wonderment, that life could be so perfect.

Traveling between destinations chosen as much by happenstance as well as year long preplaning so I could add my efforts to Habitat for Humanity's Caravanner RV team was wonderful.   Often, I would make my days route choice with morning coffee.  Yes, I'd have a general idea before moving from point A to point B, but allowed myself the freedom to add as much newness and surprise to my life when making these choices.

For example, traveling west towards Kalispell, MT. from Rapid City, SD, I chose a meandering route that would allow me to drive over the Beartooth Mountains.  The road is open only when it can be cleared of snow and the timing was good for me to skirt along the top of Yellowstone National Park and Beartooth Hwy. on my way west and then turn north and drive up 93 along Montana's western side.

In Kalispell, Habitat builds a fair amount of homes, from this larger than normal home for a large family, to more typical 3 bedroom 2 bath homes for families of 4.  (Normally....)

Due to the frost issue, foundations must be deeper than in the south where slabs are normal.

Thinking I had a couple of extra days between builds, the next being in Port Angeles, WA., I ventured to SW Oregon to visit an old High School buddy and his wife.

 Then, ready to hit the road north, I received an email requesting that I turned East instead and drive 2900 miles so I might help out a local Habitat Affiliate in West Virginia, to an area just hit by deadly floods.  In the morning I was on the road East.

As near a straight line as possible shown on a Rand McNally maps as Interstates, my path offered little of the perfect scenery that the secondary roads offer.  However, some of the driving offered pleasant surprises.

One for sure was many miles driving in the Salt Lake City area.. Winds were driving salt into the air, just like dust storms I've seen.  Twas interesting!
                                           ...............  Also this Super Sized foot bridge

Animal bridges  surprised me.. built so wildlife can cross from one side of a major road to the other without fear of death to either man or beast.  Cool!
 Entering Hwy 60 in West Virginia, the folks and support teams from the National Guard and Non Profits had already done an amazing amount of work, cleaning out homes, removing materials from homes and businesses that was water damaged, and trying to move back at least in the direction of normalcy.  
 People died, homes and businesses ruined, lives put on hold.
 It will take years.

As banks of streams and rivers were quickly covered by raging water, anything in its path was swept away and destroyed.

Our task in Greenbriar County of WV was to do a little Disaster work, but mainly to help keep Habitats ongoing construction moving forward.

West Virginia homes we are building are modest.  They follow Habitat guidlines yet must be affordable to those applying.

One home  a half hour drive up on Muddy Creek Mountain, had only a slab poured and only a small amount of supplies on hand.

 Problem was a group of 60 HS students and their adult leaders were due in to help construction.  We had to get prepared and lead.

Not much to show initially, but at the end of the week, a home was visible.. Still much to be done.

The town of White Sulphur Springs, which had been badly damaged during the floods, had another home under construction but the interior needed some corrections and then paint, before walls, flooring and cabinets could be installed.

A group of 47 Catholic students from NJ were split between the 2 homes and I think everyone of them did a fantastic job!  I was super impressed with their efforts and attitude.  Great Great Great!
                                                               Santiago and Nicki

                                                                     Jae and Matt
The surrounding area of West Virginia is Wild and Wonderful, as they say.  Beautiful mountainous country; some old, some new.

 Confederate memorial in Union, WV

                                                                an Old homestead

So, here we are... the HFH Caravanner volunteers who responded to lead teams and work their tails off, having a night out.

Mexican food and a Mariachi band.  The break was perfect.

The area is working hard to pull itself together but it is evident everywhere, that those affected and those effecting what is necessary, will persevere.

Long month!!