(written at 10pm CST on Friday 10/14/2005)

Today was a much better day for me emotionally.  I was able to deal with the scenery a lot more and get more action items crossed off.  We started off going to St. Clare with our first round of donations.  Apparently, they are no longer accepting clothes.  Why oh why did I listen to my mom when she said to bring everything?  I know her heart was in the right place, but I should have listened to my gut.  We’re going to sort through all the clothes and leave the ones no one can use in the attic or in Susan’s house.  We’ll do our best to distribute among the family and others who need it.

The greatest gift we gave to St. Clare was the Swamp Cooler (aka Air Conditioning).  They’ll finally have air conditioning in the “church” (aka a tent that is sitting on the foundation of St. Clare).  They said that baby strollers and baby carriers were going fast, so they were really happy to see the stroller.  They also loved the dog food – good job Aaron!  =)

We then went to my childhood home to try to salvage items.  The smell was horrific.  Imagine smelling mold + sewage that had been rotting for 5 weeks in 90 degree humid temperatures.  It is unbearable.  I put on some gloves, a breathing mask, and safety goggles and went inside.  I couldn’t get more than a few feet.  Although the house was tagged yellow, it was difficult to walk because of the inches of mud on the floor.  I had hoped by now the house had dried, but it was so muddy and slippery.  I didn’t have big boots on, so every step make the mud creep above my sneakers.  I looked around, but besides a couple of pictures on the wall, I didn’t see anything obvious fighting the mud and the potential floor-giving-in dangers.  God, I wish I could have worked around in there, but it wasn’t as scary as it was just “common sense”, like I’m not willing to get hurt trying to do this.  Oddly enough, I have no regrets leaving.

I walked to the back of the house (which took about 3 or 4 minutes due to all the other houses piled around).  I was able to find some pictures through the window that were not damaged.  I also found a bunch of papers, like bills and insurance papers, and such that were in a plastic container.  It must have floated and rose to the top of the water. 

I gave all the items to her daughter-in-law still in the area.  They are arriving on Tuesday, so I’m going to surprise them by meeting them at the airport.

After we got back from dropping off the salvaged items, we headed to Biloxi to return the UHaul.  Gulfport and Biloxi are really up and running on Pass Road.  Pass Road has just tripled in volume due to Hwy 90 being washed out.  We ate the best meal of the week at Popeyes.  They just opened up last Tuesday.  Cole slaw never tasted so good.

On our way home, we saw the piles and piles of clothes going to rot.  We saw at least two different places where clothes are rotting in the sun.  I took pictures as proof not to bring down clothes.

Then we went to the Waveland Animal Control center.  I said, “Hi, we want to donate to you our truck.  Could you use it?”  At first I thought they didn’t hear me, since their faces were just blank.  Three seconds later the celebration began.  They said that they didn’t have a working vehicle, so they could definitely use the blazer.  Their director is going to give me a call so we can do the paper work correctly.  And anyways, we want to keep the truck until we leave for Seattle.

My aunt and uncle from Dallas came in today to help with the houses.  We’ve been tearing out the sheetrock (sp?) and ripping out the tile and carpet.   I’m definitely getting my workout.

For dinner, an uncle dropped off a dozen steaks.  We grilled them (“barbequed them” for you Seattle people) and had some salad and potatoes.   It was the best meal of the trip.  Everyone has to eat all of their meals outside the house.  The mold inside the house is unbearable.

Anyways, I’m feeling much better today than yesterday.  I think I’m over the initial shock, but it is still unbelievable out here.

Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow in Seattle, during the nice warm summer to find out that this is all a bad dream.  One can always hope.