Monday, April 2, 2012
We got an early start so that Shawny could connect with the last group’s arrival at the Indianapolis airport. Matt, Emily, Chris, Justin, and Megan flew in on redeyes from several different directions, jumped in our newly-acquired 15-passenger van and started toward the worksite in Nabb. (Claire came into the Louisville airport later this evening and met us at the house. Now we only have one or two more folks who are expected to arrive in the coming days.)
The rest of the group made its way to our new worksite in Nabb, where they labored to move hundreds (?) of concrete blocks that used to somehow underpin a house (or mobile home?) that went away with the storm. Those blocks were in the way of the upcoming excavation of a basement for a new house that will be built right at the spot where the former one stood.
Because the blocks were in a shallow pit, the labor of moving them was a bit more strenuous than it might have been had the blocks just rested on flat ground. We moved them and stacked them out of the way, but made sure to be careful with them, as they are likely to go back into use for the “mother-in-law” house/trailer that will follow quickly after the construction of the new house.
Along with the need for block relocation, the house also had a large field that was still covered with debris. We walked the field and categorized the pieces into different piles, so that the best possible use can come of whatever was there. Even though this sounds like quick and easy work (which it actually was), it is still exhausting because there is so much to do. The sun was shining and draining us a bit too, so once the new arrivals from the airport joined the working team, we were ready for a change of venue.
We returned to Joe’s house to continue working away at the woods in his ravine, slowly but surely carving out new clearings, creating new burn piles, and starting huge new bonfires. We got to do a bit of chainsaw maintenance, overseen by new arrivals Chris and Justin, which slowed our progress just a bit as we tried to locate parts for the two different sizes of saws that we have been using. Though it took awhile, we finally got things to work. And, of course, we also made some big fires, mostly using smoldering embers from yesterday’s fires (and the trusty leaf blower) to move things along faster than ever.
We had to knock off a bit early today due to a special invitation: the president of Hanover College asked to sponsor a meal for us in the college’s dining hall. We gladly accepted the offer and got to check out the food service offerings at Hanover and compare them to our SMC dining hall. We found that SMC won the undeclared “contest” in certain areas (overall variety, international offerings, and healthy choices) and Hanover won in others (baked potato bar, hand-dipped ice cream freezer, and “breakfast for dinner” option).
We actually went to dinner before using the locker room facilities to shower, as the dining hall was set to close earlier than the gym would. No Hanover students sat near us at our table, which might be due to the fact that we are strangers or it might be explained by the fact that we were smelly and dirty. Either way, we enjoyed our visit there.
We came home to find that Claire had been delivered by Karen, who hung around late after working in Louisville today to pick Claire up. Claire got full access to all Anderson family photos hanging on the walls without any interruption or interpretation; of course, this opportunity came with at least a few laughs. We introduced all of the newcomers to the house and started the largest laundry push so far. (Due to our concern about the poison ivy in the ravine, we gather the laundry every night and wash things to reduce any chance of spread. It’s a bit of a long process, but if we get started quickly enough, no one has to stay up TOO late to make sure that everyone has what he or she needs for the next day’s work. We each brought the smallest possible amount of clothing to save on baggage fees so we don’t have much flexibility on this issue.)
As the new arrivals mingled with the earlier ones, we noticed that people have picked up a slight but noticeable southern accent by being here. And we learned that people have pretty solid familiarity with the area and with the names of the various people we’ve met so far. To listen to the folks who have been here for a few days explain things to the ones who just arrived was quite a kick.
We are on for some fieldwalks tomorrow in Nabb. Fieldwalks involve fanning out across a property and getting as much debris as possible out of the way either for planting, cattle grazing or just plain aesthetics. If we get our two fieldwalks done quickly, we will return to Joe’s house for some more clearing. If not, we will make a day of debris collection.
We continue to be amazed at how much has already been done here. Several of us went into post-Katrina New Orleans between four months and three years after the storm, and we are constantly marveling at the comparative progress we see here. Still, there is much to be done. And, as usual, a good deal of what needs to be done is rather mundane work that is far from glorious. Our specialty.
Check in tomorrow to hear more about the new properties we will visit and the new insights we (hopefully) will get.