Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Greensburg Part 2

Dale on the left pastor's a little Southern Baptist church in Tekamah Nebraska, a little town just north of Omaha. Dean on the right is retired and lives in Fremont Nebraska. We saddled up about 2:00 PM on Mother's Day Sunday and headed out across the plains of Nebraska and Kansas. The drive was enhanced by the conversations and the beauty of spring time in the midwest. Field after field of wheat was lush and green. Oil wells that I didn't know existed were pumping away in the Kansas wheat fields. Dean explained how the oil was pumped out of Kansas from the shale rock as he had worked on the pumps before retiring. We arrived at Pratt Kansas where we would sleep each night at about 10:00 PM.


We hooked up with another three people from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Association. These three were the leaders of our team as well as being in charge of other projects going on in the town. We had the job of doing the electrical wiring in the house we were working on. Now I've attempted wiring before but found that there's a better way. One night we actually had a class on how to wire three way switches and how to trouble shoot circuits that just don't work quite right. Touch, that's the Master Electrician that was in charge of all of us, explained how to connect wires together that would identify the wires on the other end of the circuit. This trip was not just a working trip but a learning trip as well.

Wall sockets that I'm working on here were pretty simple, but it really got interesting when working on a double gang switch box that had a three way switch and switches connected to a ceiling fan, regular light, and night light in the bathroom. It really intrigued me and because of my background in electronics I started catching on to the pattern of wiring by the end of the week. One thing I learned is that when wiring a house the blue print is just a suggestion. It's up to the electricians to actually decide how and where the wires are connected to the different circuits. Lots of rules go with wiring, like a staple to hold the wire no more than 8 inches from the box and then every 30 inches after that and every wall that is 24 inches or more has to have a electrical outlet, then there's only four wires in a junction box, arcfault circuits go in bedrooms, and ground fault circuits go in kitchen and bathrooms.

Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks.

Greensburg Part 1

This is a picture of Greensburg Kansas after the tornado passed through the town on May 5th 2007. Picture in your mind all the debris gone with a sprinkling of house building and you have what the town looks like today. Only a short time ago has the new water tower become functional. Yes, it blew the water tower down. The tornado had such power that it sucked the stadium lights for the school sports field right out of the ground concrete and all. It also slurped up all the water in a pond. What intensified the damage was how the tornado passed through the town and stalled then backed up through the town again then forward over the town again. In a sense the town was hit by 3 F5 tornadoes in a matter of minutes. What used to be a little quiet Kansas town of 1500 is now mostly deserted except for the volunteer workers and a few contractors.

My connection was with the Southern Baptist disaster relief association. Three of us went from Nebraska. We hooked up with three more in the town of Pratt about 30 miles from Greensburg. The First Baptist Church in Pratt let us use the church to use as a base station. We slept there and great disaster stories were told until late night hours each night.

Each day went something like this: It was up at 5 O'clock to read my bible and pray for the day, hit the road at 5:15 AM with a stop for coffee before leaving Pratt, breakfast at 6:30 AM, prayer and devotion at 7:15 AM, and at the job site working by 8:00 AM. We broke for lunch at Noon and back to work by 1:00 PM. We were done for the day by 5:45 PM with cleanup at the job site. We had dinner at 6:00 PM and traveled back to Pratt by 7:00 PM. Clean up and showers were done by 8:00 PM. Then we sat around and told disaster stories until all hours of the night. It was sweet dreams until 5AM and then do it all over again.

Friday was an emotional day for me. As always I don't want to come home. We left at Noon and I finally made it back home by 11 PM. It's about a seven hour drive, but we stopped for gas and dinner at York, so it took a little longer.

The Baptists take a team down to Greensburg every month, but because of being gone to Sherry's, my oldest daughter, wedding in Vegas I will miss June. There's always July. This is truly what I am supposed to be doing. There's just nothing like being able to help someone that you don't know get back into life. There's nothing like sleeping on the floor and eating food in the temporary food building. There's nothing like working until you just can't wiggle then shower in a portable shower trailer outside in the church parking lot. There's nothing like no TV, e-mail, computer, cell phone, or any other technological things. Well, I did have a cell phone but it was off most of the day and I only used it to call home, Mother-in-law, once a day to let her know that I was alive and well.