Today, we found ourselves pulled in many directions, not that that is unusual for a Thursday in a work trip.
In the morning we scrambled around Big Pine UMC, doing our best to finish up any projects left undone. (We’ll only have a half day or so at the site tomorrow, so we want to get as close to finished today as we can.) This involved a LOT of painting, some odds and ends throughout the bathrooms, making sure every outlet had a cover, and even some drywalling – my personal favorite.
As per usual, lunch was delicious. I ate my allergy-friendly egg salad that the church ladies went out of their way to make for me, while the rest of our double team had cold cuts and potato salad. It looked amazing.
Once done, our team was given the opportunity to meet some people in the community, and most of us chose to go.
We went to an area known as “The Avenues”, which apparently was not a wealthy community to begin with and ended up being the hardest hit. Having seen Katrina damage in New Orleans at about this same timeframe, I braced myself for what I would see there. Comparing the two is easy. The sights are all too familiar, though – thankfully – it does not appear to be as large-scale as Katrina was. But the devastation is evident. The Keys are a far cry from the “perfectly fine” that had been shown on the news. To clarify, Irma missed Key West, but that doesn’t mean she missed all the Keys.
We had the opportunity to work with Mr. Sam and clear out his trailer home to make way for a new trailer he bought. That easily was the most heartbreaking relief work I’ve done in my life. In reality, we should have thrown away everything this man owned, but how can we do that? How can a person live like that? So we worked with him to help him make decisions on his own about things. But Sam has always been a fighter, between losing his hand and being one of the first hand-replacement surgery patients to riding out Irma in a CVS, this man is not one to just give up, even when it comes to impossible tasks like cleaning out all of your possessions while struggling against congestive heart failure. I had fun helping him remembee his sense of humor through the process.
We’ll be back out in the community tomorrow, and I hope to be able to see Mr. Sam again. But never fear, you certainly will be able to in our upcoming new “Stories From the Field” posts.
Love and Peace,