Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Water is an amazing, powerful and destructive force. I have never been so impressed by it before I saw what it did to people’s homes during Hurricane Katrina. The 2 houses I helped to clean out were flooded by 6 to 7 feet of water. The water came and went in less than a week, but the clean-up process I was a part of didn’t start until 3 weeks after the storm.

The first thing you notice in a house like this is the smell. It is a stink that I would liken to a nasty diaper that is scented with air-borne mold. After you pick yourself up from the smell you see that the water has jostled every item in the house and nothing is where it should be. Couches are moved, hutches are tipped over, dining room sets are spread through the dining room, refrigerators are knocked over and anything smaller than a breadbox has been ripped from its appointed spot and tossed on the floor. Add to this mess a couple of inches of soft, black, moist mud and you get the visual. The first order of business is to get the fridge and freezer out of the house—they stink. Imagine leaving your house for three weeks with no power—what treasures would be waiting in your ice box for you? Usually we would wrap these appliances with duct tape and get them outside. Once outside we put them near the street where we also deposit everything else that comes out of the house. I’m told some government agency will be by eventually to pick up everyone’s piles. They are in front of every house and they do not smell good. (I can’t imagine what hurricane Rita did to all of these piles.) Once the friges are out we deal with the washing machine. Without power the washer can’t pump water out of its basin and the flood waters were high enough that they have filled it with stench water. We would try to get this liquid yuck out of the house before dumping so it wouldn’t add to the aromas. Once the big appliances are out we would carry everything else out and pile it by the street. On most of the jobs we also had a Bobcat tractor to help transport and pile stuff at the street. The Bobcat was a huge help.

After everything was out we’d pull up the carpet and pad to reveal a concrete foundation. Then we would pull the sheetrock off the walls and remove any insulation. During all of this work you are constantly finding mold. It covers the walls. It is in the wettest parts of the mud. It also takes many forms as it lives on food items in the kitchen, each with a different color and smell.

Anything that can hold water and was closer than 7 feet to the floor is filled with nastiness. Dishes in cupboards are filled. Totes that the homeowner used to store things in are now filled with flood water. Hauling these out was precarious and I inevitably would get some spilled on me.

It would take a crew of 10 about a day and a half to do all of this, but when it was finished the homeowners were thrilled. One homeowner we helped told my friend Johno that she wondered where God was during all of the destruction. When she saw our crew she figured she had seen Him. She called us the arms and hands of God. I am humbled to be allowed to be used in such a way. (I am also sure that God is more involved in the clean-up than He was in the destruction.)

I’ll post more about my trip tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I'm Home

Rolled into Gresham at about 7:30 this morning. We spent Saturday night in Denver and then drove all the way home from there.

I am processing some stuff that I will blog about later--I can't believe Jess said there is waist high water in some of the houses that we worked on.

I am grateful to everyone for their prayers and comments, I look forward to hugging each of you very soon.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Back on the road. Thank you Pinks.

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We have made it to OK city and are spending the night with an old friend, Bill Pink and his family. I am relieved to be out of danger from Rita and feel almost guilty to be heading home. Most other evacues have left their homes in the path of the storm. And I can tell you from experience they will go back to a mess. Please keep them in your prayers.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

We are escaping Rita by heading north to Natchez Mississippi. Our plan was to go through Alexandria, but we missed a turn and ended up in Monroe. I guess that will work too :P

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Evacuation Day

I've never been anywhere where hurricane tracking mattered to me, but today has been a different story. I know more about how hurricanes work, which side of them you would rather be on and what they do to predict their path than I ever thought necessary. Everyone here is making plans to get out of its way and we are too. We'll be leaving Slidell tomorrow morning around 7:30 and would like to head due north, but we need to return the pop-up trailer that we borrowed in Marshal, TX before we go home. If the storm acts the way they are predicting we should be done with that before any serious weather hits. However, we are expecting to find plenty of traffic along our way, which might slow us down. There is even uncertainty about whether we can even travel West as far as Marshall since it puts us near the path of the storm and an evacuation area. I'll try to keep my blog up to date as we travel tomorrow.

If all that goes well, we will shoot for Blake and Kim's house to spend Saturday night there and then continue on home on Sunday. I am definitely ready to see Christa.

I've been out cleaning flood damaged houses and have some stories to tell you about that. Many of them involve rank oders which I will need to describe in detail, so don't read my next few posts with a snack :)

Monday, September 19, 2005

A few things I've seen here... 1. A video store with the three bottom shelves of DVDs strewn all over the floor. The flood came in and floated the DVDs onto the floor and no one has come to pick them up. 2. Small signs at every intersection advertising all manner of huricane services like cleanup and roof repair. 3. Many businesses with "We Are Open" spray painted on plywood. I can't imagine the waiting list for their real signs to be repaired. 4. One hundred foot trees snapped in half or ripped from the ground. 5. People arriving here after long drives with so much energy and enthusiasm that they do more in 2 hours than I have done all day. Keep the prayers coming.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Got Some Computer Time

So we are at the HillTop Rescue in Slidell, LA. There is a family here who has a house on 6 acres. They were flooded with a few feet of water in their house. When they came back an began cleaning up, they decided with their son's family that they would begin inviting people to come and help others in the community. They partnered with this group: Hilltop and people began arriving and camping on their property. Right now there are between 40 and 60 people here helping with the work.

This group in Slidell saw many needs being met by larger organizations, such as food and clothing distribution. But noticed that the need of actually cleaning out the flood damage in people's homes was not being addressed. So they organize and send out crews from their command center to do just that.

These crews clean the residual mud from houses. They haul out the damaged property. They pull carpet, and knock out destroyed sheetrock. They also clean up fallen trees.

The needs are amazing and they are being met by this organization.

People from all over the nation have come here and are out helping each day.

I've been assigned to a crew that is working to build a latrine, because this property only has 1 bathroom for all 60 people. We should finish in the next few days and will offer 4 toilets and 4 showers! Can you imagine building a latrine in your backyard?

Please continue praying for all of us. It is unimaginably hot. I have never sweat like this in my life. It seems that you can't drink enough water and some times you can do nothing but take a break. I know that the crews out in the homes are battling the heat as well.

We'll be here for a few more days and then make the trek home.

Peace and love to all.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I an posting these from my phone so please forgive my poor grammer and lack of pictures. He you want to write me my phone email is jasonhill at tmomail.Net

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Memories from today seen like a blur. I remember the rain storm cleared up, we crossed into Texas and the sun climbed onto the sky all in the span of about an hour. We pushed through the miles found the Sojourners headquarters. These dedicated senior saints have been accepting RVs and tent trailers since Katrina came through here. The RVs will be used to house displaced survivors and the tent trailers can be used groups like us. We have two of them with us. After Texas came Louisiana. We are at our destination a town called Sidel. -- I wrote this last night but fell asleep before I sent it, I will send another tonight.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Driving through an amazing thunderstorm as we cross into Oklahoma. Thank you God for windshield wipers.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I've decided that the motto for this portion of the trip should be "you've got to do the time". Because we all earnestly want to be at our destination, but we have to endure 2600 miles of driving. All we can do is "do the time". We are in Kansas and have traveled 1400 miles. We have been on the road since Tuesday at 11am and estimate our arrival to be Thursday evening. We stopped in Denver to have breakfast with Blake and Kim. Please pray for our vehicles and drivers. We are stopping off in Texas for some tent trailers and then we will continue on into the night. Thank you for thinking of us. Jason

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We've crossed most of Wyoming. God is good!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Here is a quick update. We are 30 miles outside of Boise. This picture was snapped a couple of hours ago as we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone.

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My driveway became a house of prayer last night when at 3:30am Mike Chandler came by to drop off a chainsaw. I was still up packing, so I went out to meet him and he met me with a prayer. Then after the sun came up Greg came and encouraged my wife and I in the same spot. Later that morning I prayed with Jaynee and Megan. When Tim dropped off Chalon he led the whole group in prayer before he had to head to work. John Heck and Dick Ady dropped by for prayer just as we were loading up. Then James and Greg caught us at Vern's to annoint our trip with prayer. Before today I never considered my driveway a holy place, but now I feel deferently. I was amazed as God sent messenger after messenger to bless us. And not only that, we have been encouraged by an outpouring of funds and equipment. Thank you all for your help, support and prayers.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

I need your help

A small group of Christians from Washington are planning to go to Louisiana on Tuesday to provide relief work in the aftermath of Katrina. A specific call has been made for the help of able bodies to carry out the work of clean up that needs to be accomplished. I find myself in a unique position in which I have 2.5 free weeks that I can use to join this team. I am excited about this opportunity to serve with other Christians from all over the country and have been looking for an opportunity to help the victims in Louisiana.

The Tammany Oaks Church of Christ is located in Mandeville, LA, 24 miles from New Orleans. They completed a new building project that they describe as a “warehouse construction concept” 4 weeks ago. Today it is filled with relief goods and workers as God’s people respond to the devastation of hurricane Katrina. This location has become a coordination and distribution center for relief supplies and crews going into the hardest hit areas. We plan to join the work at the Tammany Oaks Church of Christ.

While it is true that I have been blessed with the time to join this effort, I am in need of financial assistance. Our team is driving to LA so that we have vehicles for transportation and cleanup, and our largest expense will be fuel. I can drive my rig, (a 1989 Land Cruiser), or some other truck, more on that later. It is 2630 miles one-way to Mandeville, LA and I estimate about $1600 will be needed for fuel. I will also need about $300 for expenses along the way and while I am in LA. There are a couple of other Metro members who are considering joining me and will also need funds for expenses.

We have also been asked to bring the following items: (these could be loaned to us for use on this trip, or purchased from funds that are donated.)
Extra chains
Wrecking Ball
Sledge Hammer
Come Along

As I mentioned earlier I can take my rig, however a full-sized truck would be even more useful. Do you have one that could be donated to this effort? If my rig is used I would like to borrow a rooftop cargo box to help carry gear.

Can you help? I believe that in situations such as this, God puts some people in a position to go and others in a position to support those who go. If you find yourself in the position to support, please contact the Metro Church of Christ office (503.667.0773) to make a tax-deductible donation. If you have some of the supplies listed above, please contact me at 503.516.0066.

We want to leave Tuesday afternoon, so your immediate response is requested.

Please also begin praying for our safety and effectiveness during this trip. It is my prayer that God can be glorified through all of our efforts.
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