To say that Mary Earlywine has had a tough time since the storm would be an understatement. While her mobile home was located far from Katrina’s devastating storm surge and flooding it did not escape her damaging winds. Mary, a separated mom of one girl, Haleigh (12), was and is trying her best to make ends meet on the meager wages she earns part time at the Diamondhead Waffle House. This plus a Social Security disability check for $552 is all she has to get by on monthly. Fortunately, Mary owns the property that the mobile home sat on located in northern Hancock County, some 20 miles north of Kiln, MS. This allowed her to receive $3,000 from FEMA. After the storm she moved to Alabama to stay with relatives since there were no schools opened for Haleigh to attend locally. They returned in January of 2006, to live in the mobile home while spending the $3,000 trying to fix the roof and buckled floors and walls without success. With each rain she had to wring the water out of her belongings. After living a year in these deplorable they were forced out of the home for health reasons due to mold exposure. Her mother was able to
get a FEMA trailer placed on the property. She and Haleigh lived there until they moved with her mother and step dad to a house in Wiggins, MS, an hour away.
Mary continues to work at the Waffle House. She is only allowed to work 20 hours in order to continue to receive her disability check due to her bi-polar disorder for which she is on medication. They are in extremely cramped conditions at her mother’s and desperately need to get a structure rebuilt where the mobile home once stood. This case comes to us from Kathleen Johnson, Director, Waveland Citizen’s Fund. Thanks to a grant they have been able
to purchase a 576 sq. ft. home package from 84 Lumber. The Mennonites from Christian Aid Ministries set the piers for the foundation. The package did not include the foundation or flooring system so the project has been at a standstill awaiting funding for the cement, banding, floor joists and decking. MSN decided to fund these items. As a result, the Mennonites have completed the foundation, flooring, walls and roof. We will take it from this point to completion. This is a tough situation. Our goal is to get Mary and the girls
into a safe and sanitary home. It will be small by our standards but huge by theirs. They are going to need a lot of help. At this point they have none of the finishing items for the home including kitchen cabinets, countertops, vanity, appliances, electric or plumbing fixtures or furniture.
This was our first visit to the site after receiving the case from Kathleen Johnson at Waveland Citizens Fund. She had gotten the Mennonites to place the piers but did not have funding for cement, banding and the flooring system. As a result, the materials had been sitting on site since May of last year! Mary and Haleigh have lost everything but the land and definitely need a home to live in. We provided the funding to get the home off the ground.
We had a bit of a glitch in getting started on Op. Haleigh due to the permit not being pulled! Obviously, there was a communication problem along the way. The Stop Work Order above appeared on 2/6 after MSN had funded the concrete for the foundation and materials for the banding and floor system. This allowed the Mennonites to complete the foundation, put the floor system in and put the walls up. This was a major improvement in that the materials for the house had been on the ground since May of last year! The Permit Office graciously allowed the Mennonites to put the trusses, decking and black paper on the roof until the permit was obtained.
We did receive the permit, thank the Lord, on Feb. 20. MSN paid the fee and posted the permit and plans on site.
We have a team from Cornerstone UMC in Ft. Mill, SC and Highland Park UMC in Florence, SC that will be putting the porches, windows, doors and siding on the week of March 9 through 16.
Thanks to Cornerstone UMC, Rock Hill, SC and Highland Park UMC, Florence, SC we were able to take giant leaps forward on the construction last week. God blessed us with some great carpenters, a professional siding person and willing helpers. Thanks to them the home now has a front porch, back deck, windows, exterior doors and siding complete.
Thanks to our generous donors we were able to purchase the materials and hire a local electrician to do the rough electrical and plumbing. Also, Don Schwander, a member of Diamondhead, MS UMC and roofer, sent one of his guys over to finish the shingles on Saturday. What a week!
Our next step is to raise the additional funds to get the HVAC installed. We then will be able to call for the rough-in inspection.
We had a most productive week at Haleigh’s. The week began with picking up the insulation and sheetrock from Kathleen Johnson and with prayer that we could get the rough-in inspections done. With God’s help and a couple of contractors, we had gotten the rough electrical, plumbing and HVAC done the previous week. The plumbing and HVAC had passed inspection but the electrical did not. Fortunately, we were able to get the issues corrected and, most importantly, the inspector back out for approval. That paved the way for Captain Mike Shimko, Matt Ramsay and Brendan “TOG” Gonski with Mid-Atlantic Community Church in MD along with Will “Puddin” Yancey from Simpsonville UMC in SC to complete the insulating and sheetrock job. They seemed to have a great time.
On Wednesday they were blessed with the help of Diamondhead UMC member, Don Schwander. Don owns a roofing company and had his guys install the roof here several weeks ago. He had offered to work with us one day. On Wednesday he came out and completed shingling the roof vent and spent the rest of the day hanging sheetrock with the guys. Thanks a million, Don. I say it repeatedly, but it is amazing how God brings the right people and resources to our teams.
Mary was unable to spend time with the team this week due to her father being in the hospital. On Sunday, she called to tell me how excited she and Haleigh were to have walls in their house. It is really starting to look like a home. She can’t wait to move in.
The Seekers Sunday School Class from Buncombe St. UMC came ready to work. Unfortunately the person we had hired to finish the sheetrock had made a mess of the job. We spent a day fixing and sanding as best we could before spending another day painting. The first rule in mission work is to be FLEXIBLE and fortunately this team was. Even though we lost a couple of days and lost the services of Fred Bachert and John Korybski on Wednesday the team was able to install ceramic tile in the bathroom and utility room, install laminate wood flooring in the other rooms and hang the doors. This prompted Mary to say that “It is really starting to look like a home!”
The team from Harrodsburg UMC in Harrodsburg, KY made its third trip down since the storm. They have been real troopers braving the heat and humidity in July. Due to their hard work they got the windows trimmed, base molding down, electrical finished and kitchen cabinets in. Also, the boys from KY demolished the old mobile home. This paved the way to get the power company to bring the power to the house so the HVAC can be finished. You can imagine how much fun it has been working in Southern Mississippi in June and July without air conditioning!!!
In addition, they left behind the money to purchase the appliances for the kitchen and laundry room.
Also, this past week we had the privilege of dedicating the home as Pastor Ken Klemme of HUMC flew in for the day to work and lead the dedication service. There was not a dry eye in the house as Kimberly presented Mary with a cross she makes for each of our families and Carol Moffett presented her with a beautiful quilt made by one of the HUMC church members. This was the first dedication done in advance of the home actually being finished. It certainly was a blessed event.
What an amazing experience it is to finish a home. Especially for someone as deserving as Mary and Haleigh. The team from Platt Springs UMC in Columbia, SC did a super job of taking care of the many details that finishing a home requires. Fortunately the Lord sent us a plumber, Jon Gamble, to handle the finish plumbing as well as troubleshooting some problem areas. Suzy Busby and Lynn Asbill did a great job of touch up painting, hanging blinds, installing closet shelves and shopping, among other things. Suzy was responsible for cracking the whip on the teenagers, Cody, Nicolas, Joey, Ross and Miller as they struggled in the heat and humidity to load the remnants of the mobile home into the 40 cubic yd. dumpster.
The team even took the extra step of purchasing all the necessary kitchen items including a table and chairs.
One thing for sure, none of this could have been done without Sandy and David Busby’s awesome cooking all week. Thank you.
Thanks to the generosity of many of God’s servants Mary and Haleigh have a mostly furnished home to move into. She is only lacking a few items of furniture. She even has a new (for her) car from an anonymous donor. She and Haleigh could not be more excited.