Build Day #1 - Tornado cleanup/repair

Suffolk Travel Blog

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On the way to the build site
Today was the first build day and it was pretty cool.
We rode from the (second) First Presbyterian Church to breakfast, which consisted of large plates of eggs, homefries, biscuits, fruit...and hush-puppies (my first ones!!!). In case you've never had hush-puppies before, they're pretty much corn bread balls that are deep fried and amazing. Our contact for Suffolk, Angela, and her husband, Big Frank (who's 6'9" and completely trumps out tallest riders: Lee at 6'5", Joe at 6'6" and George at something around there), treated us to this wonderful meal. Then, we split up into three groups: walking, biking and driving. My group (Beau, Eli, Lee, Anna, Emily, Janine, Liz and George) was the "driving group".
tornado damage...there used to be a house right there
..except we ended up biking to our site because it was only 3.1 miles and really no big deal...and also turned out to be literally right across the street from the YMCA we're staying at tonight.

Originally, we were supposed to have our first build day in Virginia Beach, on the 17th, and then bike to Suffolk and just stay here overnight and head out the next morning. A few weeks ago, however, a tornado came through Suffolk and left behind a pretty large amount of damage. When our leaders found out about this, they decided to try and switch our first build day so we could help with the tornado relief. My group was put in one of the main tornado damage areas, which was a very new experience for me. Being from New York, I've seen hurricanes, nor'easters and a few blizzards.
taking out some fence posts
..but never tornadoes. It's really pretty crazy how one house will be almost completely undamaged but right next to it, all that's left is a concrete foundation. The area behind the neighborhood where we were working had just had a new strip mall put in...it took 2 years to finish up the strip mall, and only a few minutes for the tornado to completely destroy it. Luckily, the tornado hit where it hit, though, because right across the street from where we were is the hospital. The tornado missed it by just over a block. Really pretty crazy.

Big Frank was in charge of us, and while we waited for him to get the supplies to rebuild our homeowner's (Dale) back porch, he instructed us to remove what was left of the fence that divided the house we were working on and the now non-existent neighbor's home.
On the deck we built.
This was a job that took FOREVER because it mainly involved digging the fence posts out of the ground. Liz and I worked on one of them for almost 1/2 an hour, gave up, and then watched Lee pull it up out of the ground without even seeming like he put any effort into it. Must be that leverage he's got being so tall...gotta be that.
Once Big Frank got back, we deconstructed/reconstructed Dale's back porch. I got to experience a nail gun for the first time, use an axe to cut down a small tree, a radial arm saw to cut some of the railing, a drill and some wrenches...so that felt like a pretty good build day for me. When we had finished, we took a group picture on the new porch. Felt pretty good to see how we helped Dale out. Oh, and it turns out we didn't even need to take the fence posts out.
the tornado knocked it down, but we'll provide the picture of hope
..haha.

After riding around the neighborhood a bit to see the damage, we headed over to the YMCA, our host for the night. When we went to ride there and cross the street, I clipped out of my right pedal to stand...but then leaned to the left. When that happens...you're done for. There's no escaping a fall when you do that. Haha. You feel like you're going down in slow motion, but you just can't stop it. I think I fell into Beau...hit my hip and scraped up my knee. At least I'm not the first one to pull that on the trip so far.

We set up in the YMCA gym, played some basketball, showered, and ate dinner (brought in by Angela and Frank, who had also provided us with lunch at their house). After dinner, it was time for the first laundry of the trip. My group is on trailer/laundry for the week, so it was our job to get everything going on that.
it's laundry time
Drier stuff goes on one tarp, and non-drier stuff goes on another tarp. Then, you roll each tarp up separately and they become the "laundry burritos"...haha. Kristian had told us that rolling the tarps was hard...but Alana and I went to roll up the first tarp and weren't having any trouble. Kristian then goes "Oh, it'll get hard once you reach the clothes" and as soon as he said that, we were stopped dead in our tracks. Hahahahahaha. Uhmmm also, I don't know if you know this, but clothing for 4 days multiplied by 31 people is actually VERY HEAVY. And it had started to pour outside when we left to do laundry...it was a pretty funny sight, seeing us trying to carry these tarps stuffed with dirty laundry through the rain to the van. We went to the laundromat, did the laundry, took some pictures of the first laundry session, and came back.
it was raining...we had to dry off somehow


Most of the drier stuff is not actually dry...it's Sunday and the laundromat closes earlier than we needed it to. We ended up hanging a lot of stuff up all over the YMCA (like in the rooms with all the exercise machines...it's a pretty funny sight). There's a really nice Scottish woman, Bobby, working the night shift here who took me and a few other people into one of the locker rooms and showed us where the bathing suit spin drier is. That worked wonders on my cotton t-shirts and my shorts.

Oh, also, today was Beau's 23rd birthday. His mom brought us cupcakes at the build site, and then his mom, dad and sister were all at lunch with more cupcakes and some birthday cake. We sang to Beau at breakfast, again at lunch and then one last time at dinner. Poor kid...haha.
Happy Birthday, Beau!

Eli blew up some water balloons with air and filled Beau's sleeping bag. Currently, he's inside his sleeping bag and we've seen no reaction from him. No fun...haha.


A few quotes from today:
Beau: She's on the low car diet.

James: When we get to Portland, can I ride my single speed?
Andrew: <blank stare>
James: It has brakes...
Andrew: Uhmmm...I don't know about that...
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On the way to the build site
On the way to the build site
tornado damage...there used to be …
tornado damage...there used to be…
taking out some fence posts
taking out some fence posts
On the deck we built.
On the deck we built.
the tornado knocked it down, but w…
the tornado knocked it down, but …
its laundry time
it's laundry time
it was raining...we had to dry off…
it was raining...we had to dry of…
Happy Birthday, Beau!
Happy Birthday, Beau!
eating some lunch
eating some lunch
taking out a tree
taking out a tree
putting up the new deck railings
putting up the new deck railings
Anna has won in her battle against…
Anna has won in her battle agains…
tornado damage
tornado damage
mini sink
mini sink
Suffolk
photo by: smhirsch