It’s been seven weeks and a day since the tornado-we-can’t-call-a-tornado struck our neighborhood. The first four weeks held a steady dawn-to-dusk chainsaw and stump grinder squealing in 360 degrees. We all understood how the trees needed to be cleared off roadways and houses. Such knowledge didn’t stop me from wondering many a day whether the shaking I felt was from the windows and rest of house rattling from the noise vibrations, or just my nerves.
Like there were/ have been various tree removal services swarming upon us, so it is with the construction groups. The first three weeks following the storm, three to five people knocked on our door, leaving their cards or flyers, asking if we wanted to use their services. After a while, I just smiled, said thank you, and took their card to add to the growing pile. The number of solicitors have dropped to about one per week.
Around the curve, where a dumpster sits in every driveway, the blue tarps covering damaged roofs have been replaced with brand new roofs. I must admit they do look very pretty. I never noticed roofs too much in the past, but all these new house toppings make our neighborhood sparkle. Because the dumpsters and storage units are still in driveways, I know there is still interior work to be done.
Our across-the-street neighbors had a crew of ten men from a roofing company in town working 7-8 – that is, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. – for one week. In that time, they completed the roof and replaced the walls and windows. In fact, the inside of their house now looks better than ours ever has. But their house is not the first on the block to be done. It’s not finished. Although they were the first done with roof and frame and windows, they are waiting for the painting and siding yet to come.
Two blocks away, there was a construction group of about fifteen Burmese. Their personal space is closer than Americans. When I drove past, all fifteen were working one small section of the roof, men and women, squatting close to each other, as they pulled off the damaged shingles. For some reason, Americans don’t squat, so this image of so many people on one part of a roof, all squatting and pulling was unique to my eyesight. They had a new roof on in two days.
Our one next door neighbor has Amish men working on his house – all in their Amish look of solid colored shirts, dark pants, suspenders, straw hats, and beards. As I grew up close to Amish, this sight is not unique or unusual to me. They actually bring a comforting sense of familiarity during these trying times. I also know both of their excellent work as well as their teamwork action. I’m trying not to say out loud, “Why didn’t WE think of them?”
Us? We didn’t know whom to get. When you go through a catastrophe, you only think forward in inches. We realized the roof needed fixing. The fact that parts of it was missing or had huge branches through it rather gave that away. Only two years ago, we put on a brand new roof. (sigh) But since we were well-pleased with our roofer, the day after the storm we contacted that guy and asked not only would he fix our roof, but did he have someone to recommend doing the reconstruction bit on our house. So… we have one man sub-contracted by our roofer to do the damaged roof removal, wall reconstruction, window instillation, and siding. This one man has hired one other. So for the past two weeks – during a long-ago-scheduled vacation time, we had two guys doing the work on our house, arriving at 7:30 each morning. Bang, creek, rip, dump. They are excellent workers. I’m just trying not to be jealous of neighbors who had the same amount of work done by using a larger crew over just two or three days. Bang, creek, rip, dump. It’s getting done – tortoise or hare, we’ll all cross the finish line. We’re all in this together.
With the very loud chainsaws pretty much gone, and even though there are “projects” for me to do everywhere I look, I am finally coming back to what pleasures me – writing! It is more than just writing my storm thoughts for this blog. It includes raw writing and researching and rewriting. What fun. A glimmer of normalcy.