Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Housing the House-Builders

Portia's brother-in-law (Bob the Builder) flew into Houston Monday afternoon on a scouting expedition for his Florida construction company. He's been engaged to rebuild an apartment complex in Galveston that was severely damaged by hurricane Ike last month.

Remember Ike? It was chased off the front pages by the stock market meltdown, bailout and the presidential election. But there are thousands of people still displaced from their homes, boats littering the side of the highway near Galveston, and blue tarps on roofs of businesses and homes all over the region awaiting repair. The storm is the third most costly in American history. Some say the damages could be as much as $21 BILLION.

Bob's company is one of many from out of state coming into the area to help with the reconstruction. These companies must show that they will bring in their own workers, because there is a shortage of available labor in the area.

That means that his biggest challenge will be finding temporary housing for the employees of his company in addition to evaluating the scope of the project. This is a familiar story to those of you who survived Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Hotels, motels, apartments and rent houses near Galveston are booked full with evacuees whose homes are unliveable--like the apartments that Bob's company plans to restore. It's a real Catch-22.

Presbytery of New Covenant's Ike recovery effort continues. We expect Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Villages to be set up by Thanksgiving to house volunteer teams of workers. If your church group is interested in arranging a work trip, contact the PDA at

Volunteer work crews are welcome and much needed, but the folks waiting to return to their homes will also need companies like Bob's to come and work. And those workers need a place to stay. I'm praying Bob can work that out for his employees and the people who had to leave their ruined apartments.


Mary M said...

Best wishes to Bob - and other ethical builders like himCheck out the great photos and commentary about Galveston at click on current issue and scroll down to Fragile Island. I'd read the story in the magazine, but there is a really wonderful expanded photo show with commentary by the photographer. Both the author and the photographer really capture the emotional - and dare I say spiritual pain.

I'm spending tomorrow at a Care for Caregivers Event staffed by the spiritual support network of PDA..

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