Thursday, August 11, 2011

Schvitzing, Sweltering and Satisfied! Day 2 in Alabama

The 'house staging' team
This morning we all traveled back to the town of Cordova, Alabama, a town some forty-five miles away from our base in Birmingham. The second team has been working on a house that is part of a program called Flipping for Families. While “flipping houses” often connotes trying to rehab houses for profit, here in Cordova the purpose is to rehab old houses and make them livable for families displaced by the tornadoes. When our work coordinator, Andrea, inquired yesterday morning as to who in our group was interested in “staging” a house, hands immediately went up, led by our trip coordinator Lorrie Wexler. She was soon joined by Elaine Chetrit, Suzanne Phillip, and George Markley who, despite his lack of decorating skills, saw benefits to working with three of the women in the group. The house to which we were assigned had been abandoned many years before the tornadoes. Andrea had managed to secure the house by promising its owner that it would be rehabbed provided he would allow the house to be occupied for a year rent-free.

Yesterday Team 2 promptly went off to their house on Johnson Drive, having been told that the house was ready for its occupants to move in except for some decorating. When we got to the house, we soon discovered that, while the house was barely structurally sound (for example, our bathroom has a gaping hole in the floor through which you can see daylight), it hardly was ready for its occupants to move in. It still lacks a stove, a kitchen sink, a toilet, doors on the closet, running water or electricity. We soon learned that the goal of disaster recovery is to get the tornado victims back into homes even if the conditions are sub-optimal. So, we got to work doing our cleaning – washing the walls, sweeping the floors, cleaning the refrigerator, and so on.

You want this where?
 Once the house was cleaned, we began “shopping” for furnishings for the house in a garage and parsonage that are no longer being use to house cars or a minister. Instead they are filled with donated items from communities throughout the state. We soon were laying claim to dressers, tables, mattresses and an assortment of “tchotchkes” that we then transported to our house. Today was spent washing windows and placing the furniture. We broke for lunch, served at the church, which was expertly prepared by several of the volunteers, including our own Margo Schiff and several members of the Reform congregation in Morristown, New Jersey. In the afternoon, Margo joined the group at our house, and we all continued cleaning and putting bedding in the house.
Emma, Ari and Brittany resting up after furniture shlepping
By the time the group was done today, the house was fully furnished , even to the extent of having a dining table complete with placemats and place settings for the mother and her 17-year old daughter who lost their home on April 27th and will be moving into this new “B’nai Israel house.”
George Markley, Elaine Chetrit, Suzanne Phillip, Lorrie Wexler, and Margo Schiff

1 comment:

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