We were supposed to meet with all the job leaders at 7:30, but they really didn't show until some time after 8; and then they also didn't seem to know enough about what was involved on their jobs for us to get all the equipment we really needed from the warehouse of tools and "personal protection equipment" that they had. It was a little bit weird. So we didn't actually get out to the site until nearly 9.
But we followed our job leader out to our site. It took a long time, too, as this place was nearly in Alabama, though still on the coast. It was a longer drive than I was expecting, and a few people wondered how they'd picked that house.
When we got there, the job site manager gathered us all up and started with a brief lecture on how it was that they decided on which houses they worked on. It turned out to be a combination of social workers who figured out who really had a need, the construction folks that figured out what could be done to the house, folks that determined if the damage was actually done by Katrina, and then a bunch of folks that decided which jobs to do and to what level to do them. Then the job managers were only supposed to do what they were told, and no more. The Diocese had a particular set of rules by which they determined what they should or shouldn't do per house.
This was a little different than the Back Bay Mission folks, who had asked us to just do our best on the houses of folks that had done a lot already for the community and were sticking it out to stay here.
Anyway... just different methods, perhaps, and different priorities, and, given that these were one of the groups that still had funding this many years later, it was their right.
But then the job manager went into a long soapbox about how FEMA wasn't actually the group that caused the disaster and how it really was the fault of Homeland Security being put in charge of all the organizations and fouling up all the communication and communication times, and I walked away and tried to figure out what to paint. I really have no patience for that kind of thing, for all that it might have told me a lot about him; all I felt I needed to know was that he worked for FEMA and he said that a lot of people quit because of how "Katrina was run" and that he felt that New Orleans wasn't damaged so much by the edge of the storm as it was killed off by the levee committee's desires to skim all the money off the levee maintenance taxes. *shrugs* Blame games just make me wonder what it is that he's really trying to hide, and that was plenty for me.
Anyway... he finally let us do our jobs. We had three different construction guys, who also did inspecting, contracting, and really understood what it was that we needed to do, they went around figuring out exactly what it was that we had to do. Of course, those of us who were mildly less well versed in the ways of doing things, kind of sat around and waited for them to decide what it was that we wanted to do. The interesting thing was that the job manager was only with our experts for an hour or so and then he left to get some of the things we needed, and then he just disappeared.
They figured out that the main jobs were getting siding up, getting trim onto the windows and painting it, and painting a lot of the remaining surfaces as they'd been left half-painted. So a bunch of people got started on painting while the more skilled folks worked on figuring out the trim and siding. The siding was kind of tricky as it had asbestos in it, and cutting it was kind of fraught. A few folks just cared less than others, and they went off to do the cutting.
There was one part of one of the walls that had been covered with ply wood after a window had been taken out. Another had a smaller window put in and just any old wood had been slapped around it. Fixing those involved getting all that wood out of there and then putting real siding around it and then trimming the windows properly.
I got to paint soon enough, and drill holes into the ends of trim boards with a power drill so that when they were installed, they wouldn't split at all. The boards were heavy and I found out later that they were heavy duty boards, made to weather more. I avoided painting, on the most part, until after lunch, when they couldn't find enough folks that wanted to go up the ladders to paint the higher level siding.
Lunch was fun, we all just sat in the sun and ate the sandwiches we'd made along with the bags of chips we'd brought along and some granola bars for those that wanted those. Someone made a run for coffee and brought back a lot of cups of coffee with no cream; but it was great coffee from a new little coffee shop that was close by. It was nice to have a real sandwich with real lunch meat and cheese, instead of bologna and processed cheese slices, on whole wheat bread instead of white, and we had a ton of fresh fruit to choose from for our after lunch snack along with some carrot sticks that we'd made. It was really nice compared to the nearly vegetable devoid foods we'd had last year.
Then I got assigned a door that needed a little extra work to get primed, and a slatted door that had to be swept before I had any chance at getting paint to stick to it. I got a great lesson on how to paint quickly and well, with a hand brush! I was impressed that it could be done so quickly and with a lot less effort than I was expending. I liked that a lot. Quite a few of the crew, later, were saying that they learned more on the jobs they were doing than they expected to. That was really cool.
It was unexpectedly cold, too. I saw that there was snow in other parts of the country and realized that that same weather was here, but that the forecasts were saying 80 by the end of the week, so we'll get our warmth. Today was more like a Colorado day, lately, with highs in the 50's and lows near or just below freezing. That's normal for us, it's rather unusual here, and the wind bit like anything when we were in the shade.
By late in the afternoon we started getting eaten alive by little tiny midge-like things that would land on us and bite us. Insect repellent worked well for a while, so we slathered up and finished off what we had. My knees were killing me by then because I had to kneel on each board I pre-drilled two holes through, as I was having to work on the ground instead of up on a saw horse of some kind. And my hands are pretty tired as well, with all the paint brush welding, as I'm unused to doing that as well.
But the results were really nice. With that many people working on painting everything, scraping off all the loose stuff, filling in all the cracks with caulk, and getting everything clean and solid, it was really nice to see the results of all that work from all those people. Eight folks had gone on another job, so we had about sixteen folks, and with everyone scraping, painting, or doing things, a LOT got done, and we are pretty close to finishing the outside of this house tomorrow.
We left and headed back, but on the way we visited two of the houses we worked on last year. They were both complete, it seemed, and looked great. The electrician's house, that was right by the beach, was there with a new fence and as we drove by one of his daughters came out with her son, and she told us that they'd been able to move in last May, which was just a month after we'd been there. So that meant that they were able to finish the house pretty quickly after us. That was really sweet.
Those that needed to showered, and then we headed out to the Blow Fly Inn for dinner. It's a fun place, with plenty of beer, a menu that's heavy on the fried, but some of it was very tasty fried. I got the fried flounder with cane syrup yams and French Fries. John got the salad, and I also got a crawfish, mushroom, and green onion soup that I enjoyed a great deal. The flounder was fat and HOT and crisp and delicious with a bit of tarter sauce, and it was so huge I was glad I shared it with John. He ate his half and added an order of Deep Fried pickle slices that were just enough of the tart, salt, and deep-fried to be a delicious appetizer. I drank two whole soda waters with lime as I was just dehydrated from the day.
And we all laughed and talked about how live oak wood is denser than water, and about the manager's take on things, and about how obnoxious we were being, coming in late and chasing off all the other diners. We went through six pitchers of beer, and plenty of food, and a couple of desserts to end with.
Before we were completely done I called home to talk with Jet for a bit and he seemed perfectly cheerful and he'd had a good day even though it was art instead of PE. He said that his schedule was a little messed up. *laughs* He seems fine, and granny told Dad that things were going well and Jet seemed perfectly cheerful this time, so that was helpful to them as well. We wrangled the milk delivery for tomorrow, and I think we have what they need. I love the Internet, as I can change the milk order form here without a qualm.
I found a jambalaya mix for $1.25 at the grocery store and I'm tempted to get more, as I know that in the middle of New Orleans tourist areas, it's possible to find jambalaya mixes for well over a dozen dollars. Etouffe is cheap in a Winn-Dixie, too. *laughs*
We're going back to the same site tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be done and get to do another job.
I'm pretty sore now, but feel good about stuff, and tomorrow shouldn't be quite as early a start. Thank God. We know where the build site is, now, and we don't have to get up until we want to for breakfast and then get there to work.