Picking Up the Pieces

Submitted by bstephens on Fri, 09/09/2022

The belongings from their home lay in piles on their porch and driveway. An episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show plays in the background from the carport, across the driveway, with plastic wrapped to keep out the elements. This is now where Jim and Sharon Harris reside with everything that they could salvage from the mud. 

Their kitchen table and chairs sit in the middle of the aluminum-roofed carport surrounded by boxes of miscellaneous items saved from the floodwaters. Jim, who is a bit handy with wiring, ran electricity from the house so that they can power the microwave and washer and dryer to wash their mud-caked clothes. There was no such luck with plumbing and a hospital toilet chair sits off to the side of the carport.

“I just hope the frost doesn’t come soon,” said Jim, who has lived in his home for 30 years, and is already fearing what may happen if his home isn’t repaired before fall arrives. “I heard my neighbors say the creek was getting up and it was up in the evening. And by dark, it was inside the house. We waded into water up to our knees to save what we could and get it to a higher place in the house.”

Volunteers from Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) were onsite to help pull out wet insulation from underneath the house and make plans to replace the floors which were buckled in every room on the lower level. With temperatures steadily in the 80s, mold is an issue. And CAP staff know that this work is best done as soon as possible after the flood waters recede. The floods happened a month ago. The Harris’s because of age and health just could not do it. 

“I don’t even feel like it’s safe to have people in here at this time,” said James Akers, a crew leader with CAP’s Home Repair Program. “These floors could really give way at any time and you’d find yourself under the house.”
Akers was working to secure about 15 pieces of plywood to at least make the home safe to enter even as he knows more extensive repairs will be needed in the future.

“I don’t know how we would get these repairs done if it wasn’t for organizations like CAP,” Jim added. “It took me and my wife 15 days to get all of our belongings out that we could. She’s down in her back and I just couldn’t do it myself.”

Behind his home, one family member’s trailer was taken right off the foundation. Watch the work CAP volunteers have been doing on that home here. Friends and family up and down their street suffered damage from the heavy rainfall which led to catastrophic flash flooding that washed away homes and some whole communities. 

“We need a lot of help, especially the elderly that can’t do the work. I don’t know who I could get to help me,” Jim said. “It would be very, very difficult for me and my wife to try to replace the floors ourselves. I don’t think I could do it. I’m really grateful.” 
 

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