Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to Work on the Island

So today was the first day that everyone was required to be back to work at GHF. We had an 8:30 meeting on the top floor of the Custom House, becuase the bottom floor took on 6 feet of water and is under remediation/restoration. That means the first floor has had all the sheetrock, etc removed and is down to the bare bones and these machines are pumping cold dry air in thru large tubes into areas sealed off with plastic. I'm sure there's much more to it than that, but that's how it looks from my end. The worst part is that our HVAC system was in a "boiler room" downstairs, so we have no AC in the building. Yikes! Luckily, we are all wearing shorts & GHF shirts.

The GHF crew with remediation going on in the background

More of the GHF crew...

So one of the interesting stories I've had to skip over is that of the safe in my office at GHF. I had to hire a safe company to break into it after it was inundated with salt water....and it held a lot of cash. Cash that was wet, moldy, slimy and nasty! I ended up "laundering" it in a big plastic tub filled with Lysol water, and drying it in the dryer!! (more photos I'll post at some point) Having done that and sorted and counted about half of it, I needed to make a deposit at the bank on my way back home today. Our banking branch is one of the many that is now operating out of a trailer marked "mobile banking". When I told them where my now fresh-smelling, clean cash came from, the tellers immediately broke out the gloves and masks and set to counting in by hand on a plastic sheet, so as not to contaminate one of the counting machines. Geez! And to think I'd just been treating it like plain old cash ever since it came out of the dryer!

After my stint at the trailer-bank, I wanted to check on the mom of one of Emma's friends. I've been trying to call her since the 'cane, but her cell phone has been disconnected, so I just decided to drive by. For those of you familiar with the island, this is the neighborhood across from Marshall's and Ross. And it apparently had water up to the rooftops. All the houses were either gutted or in the process and the piles of debris left for the tractors was unimaginable. Some roads were not passable, but I finally made my way to the house where they lived with their Grandfather. He was sitting outside on the porch, and although I'd never met him, I decided to go ask about Alexis and her mom. It was immediately obvious, that although very friendly, he didn't speak a word of English. With my broken Spanish I managed to find out that Alexis and her mom were safe in Houston, and that he had food (MRE's) and water. His front door was open and I could see that his house was nothing but a shell...stripped down to the studs and flooring. And yet he smiled and nodded when I asked if he was OK, and pointed to his ice chest and stack of MRE boxes. My heart broke for him. I'm sure that house is all he has in the world, and I know for a fact that he housed several of his adult children there, and at least 4 grandchildren. I wonder how and where he'll get furniture, a kitchen, a bathroom, plumbing and electrical wiring. I wish I knew a charity group to call or someone who could help this sweet man. I asked him how high the water got and he pointed out the water line...even with the roof line. I told him that we too have 9 feet of water and he nodded. Then he gave me his daughter's number in English, which he really struggled over. I wanted to say "don't try so hard...I know the numbers in Spanish!" but I couldn't. At any rate, all I could do was leave her a message and hope she calls me back so I can check on her and her children. There are so many like this family in Galveston and I wish I could help each one....I'll leave you with a couple of shots from my drive around town today:

A Common site on the Island

Red Cross handing out free food

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