Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Small House in Garland

The corner of Winell Drive. We parked and walked up the street.
Today Commuter Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I went into the community of Garland. A place where certain streets were devastated by the tornadoes after Christmas. The story today is one of simple connections ....

Belongings ruined by the storms line the street. The City will start hauling away tomorrow.
I saw a Facebook posting yesterday by our friend and the program director of our Temple describing their day providing help. A few private messages later and she had given us an address in Garland of an elderly couple needing help this afternoon.

We arrived to a street lined with debris and tree branches. The houses were speckled with blue tarps on roofs and giant gaps in walls. We walked to the appointed address and encountered Mr. Owner on his front lawn with a Chik-fil-a bag in hand. We introduced ourselves and I let him know we were there to pack up his garage. He greeted us warmly offering food and fumbled for the piece of paper with a number for the contact who was organizing the effort at his home. I called the number and was told that a truck would arrive later to haul belongings to a storage facility and where we could get boxes and supplies if needed.

We approached the front door where a red piece of paper taped to the doorframe indicated the home was unsafe. We walked through the empty, damaged home in which the electricity had been shut off. The garage was completely full of discarded furniture, tools, yard implements, cleaning supplies and treasured keepsakes. It was clearly the garage of a gentlemen who loved to tinker and fix things. Fortunately there were boxes and tape for us to start our efforts for packing up the contents.

We spoke with Mr. Owner to sort through what to keep and what to throw away but most was intended for the keep pile. A local church member stopped by to see if Mr. Owner needed anything. We made introductions and when asked what organization we were with, we replied none really.
The pastor from Oasis Church arrived next. Again, he just wanted to see if Mr. Owner needed anything and made sure Mr. Owner knew where he could get food and help. Sadly, Oasis Church was hit hard by the tornado as well. The kind pastor thanked us for being there to help.

Mrs. Owner arrived and she began to help organize what to box up from the garage. She let us know the attic was full but it was too dangerous for anyone to go up there so whatever was in the attic is "lost." As we worked through items, Youngest Son was often amazed at the cool old stuff. However, Youngest Son also found a gun and some knives. Mrs. Owner expressed sincere relief that these weapons were found and she quickly removed them from the garage.

Shortly thereafter, two women, two men and a boy arrived with trucks to move the items we had been stacking in the driveway. We loaded as much as possible but not all could be sent in one trip. Another woman, In Charge Woman, stayed behind and helped us to finish packing up. When the truck crew determined that the storage facility was locked and they could not get in, In Charge Woman scrambled to solve the problem. After some confusion, Mrs. Owner produced a key. By this time, we had completed packing and Youngest Son was getting antsy.

We decided it would be best for our family to drive the key to the storage facility. In Charge Woman was so nice and had lots of positive energy. She grabbed Youngest Son and me for a selfie as we headed out! We set up a text message to communicate as we worked to finish our tasks.

As we were leaving the street, another woman and man pulled up and offered us hot pizza and water. She said she was from Alvarado and was there to hand out food to volunteers, residents, whoever was on the street and needed it. I took some food for Youngest Son and expressed our gratitude. We made our way to the storage facility, unlocked it and helped unload the trucks.

We made one final trip back to return the key to Mr. and Mrs. Owner. By this time, the streets were dark with the streetlights extinguished. However, families and volunteers were still diligently working since tomorrow the city starts hauling away trash and closing streets. Fortunately, In Charge Woman has arranged for another volunteer to come back in the morning to take the rest of Mr. and Mrs. Owner's belongings to the storage unit.

This older couple has lived in their modest home for seven years and they have no mortgage on it - completely paid for! They were in their home when the tornado hit!! They are now living in a motel. The insurance adjuster has STILL not arrived but they are hoping to meet with the insurance reps tomorrow. Mr. Owner was quite talkative and made jokes about the situation. A sense of humor is always good in times of hardship. Mrs. Owner expressed genuine appreciation to all. I was humbled by this lovely couple and what they are going through to put their lives back together.

There were many simple connections today. People helping people. 

In Charge Woman, me and Youngest Son as the sun sets on the ravished street and we head out. Smiles were good today. 

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