Summary of Covenant Disaster Relief Team Trip — June 2019
Covenant is helping to rebuild Houston. Seven members, the largest crew from Covenant since the 2017 Hurricane Harvey, traveled to east Houston the last weekend in June. Volunteering for Rebuilding Together Houston (RTH), the team was assigned a home in the Fifth Ward where Tony Trahan and his sister Agnes Harper live with a daughter as their caregiver. (Volunteers and licensed contractors for RTH repair the homes of low-income seniors, U.S. Military Veterans, homeowners with disabilities and working families impacted by natural disasters.)
Covenant member and the church’s disaster relief coordinator Steve Bissell was part of the team that traveled to Houston. He writes about their work here.
The Covenant team of Gaines Bagby, Harry Evans, Brian Millington, Jim Rumbo, Harold Skaggs, Monroe Talley and Steve Bissell was asked to build a new front porch with steps and handrails. Our assignment included removing and replacing steps on the side of the house, removing and replacing siding and trim in the rear of the house, and brushing the siding with primer.
RTH recently altered the way a project is performed. Volunteers are asked to provide material and tools for the project, which are stored in a locked bin each night. Our team was able to secure our materials and any tools we didn’t already own from a non-profit provider, ToolBank. ToolBank offers the materials at no cost for non-profit workers. We loaded most of the tools and equipment needed for the project, along with our team members, in two cab trucks provided by Harry Evans and Harold Skaggs.
Our team spent Friday morning navigating the process. By noon, we had picked up most of the material, and some members had begun removing the old and damaged siding, the porch and the steps.
Our work on Friday afternoon was hindered by thunderstorms. The team took shelter under pop-up canopies. After the storms passed, we continued our work despite some wet materials. We forged on with cheerful determination: We replaced new siding on top of new tar paper, rebuilt porches and steps, and put up new siding, working fast to finish before the next storm system. God held back the storms long enough and we were able to make significant progress.
Saturday, we continued our efforts with some certainty that we could finish most our work. By the end of the day, we had completed the new porch and steps, and replaced the rear wall with new siding, and primed it to protect it from the elements. We decided we had accomplished a great deal and we could leave a day early. Our early departure allowed us to cancel our Saturday reservations, easing expenses incurred for lodging and meals.
Saturday afternoon, Terri Drabik-O’Reilley, RTH Director of Volunteers, stopped by for a visit. She was very appreciative about the amount of work we had done and agreed we should leave early. Local volunteers would be able to put the finishing touches on the house.
Terri expressed thanks, saying “We have a lot of passionate volunteers, but the real coveted crews are those with both passion and skills.”