Micah gave me the day “off” on Saturday so I could go to New Jersey and help clean up from Hurricane Irene. Meanwhile, he took the boys to the zoo, the library, and generally had a great time. This was the day after I ran 20 miles from the Bronx Zoo to our apartment. Day “off,” my eye.
Okay, so it totally was a day off. If I had been the one to stay home with the boys and he had gone to New Jersey, it would have been just like every other day for me and I would have been cranky and full of resentment. Tearing apart someone’s house was totally a break.
So, the hurricane wasn’t such a big deal in New York City, but there were parts of New Jersey that were really hit hard. Mormon Helping Hands has been very involved with the cleanup and the church has provided hundreds of volunteers every weekend since then and will continue to do so until there is no more need for them. Our stake chartered a couple of buses to take us out there and then we split up into teams and were driven in vans to neighborhoods and houses that needed help.
My team was sent to the home of an elderly Italian couple (they are celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary today). A river had backed up and filled their house with 4-5 feet of water. That was sad, but it was even more sad knowing that they had just finished renovating their kitchen a week or two before the storm. They were fairly upbeat about it, however, and they and their daughter and her family were laughing and joking with us as we ripped up their carpets, took out the subflooring, and tossed all their major appliances into the trash.
One thing that was kind of amazing was the levels of smell that arose from the house, which had been wet for almost a month. When we first got there, I hardly smelled anything. Then I went into the kitchen, where the refrigerator may have gotten cracked open. Nasty. And then as we ripped the carpet, then the padding, then the subflooring, we were practically bowled over by the increasing intensity of the rot and mold and wetness. One of the volunteers kept us smiling when we wanted to hurl with his impression of Han Solo when Chewie discovered the trash chute: “What an amazing smell you’ve discovered.”
Amazing smell, indeed. If there is anything that would convince me that building a house next to a river is a bad idea, that smell would be it.
But we had a good time anyway. Isn’t it always fun when you get to dig a crowbar into somebody else’s (not-so) dry-wall? Okay, maybe not, but it was enjoyable to get to know the Degiulios and to help them out of their predicament. Mr. Degiulio has offered to make any of us a plate of spaghetti and meatballs if ever we want to stop by once they get their house back together. I don’t doubt that he makes a mean plate of pasta.
All in all, it was a decent day off. I would have preferred something a little less smelly, but I’ll take what I can get.