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“Where Do You Go”

Marcia Ball was born only 4 months after me, and I’ve listened to her music for most of my adult life.  However, until last Friday night at the Bugle Boy in La Grange, Texas, I had never seen her in a live show.  I invited Laura on an early Valentine’s date to one of the coziest live music venues in Central Texas.

Ball was born in Orange, on the Texas side of the Sabine River, but grew up in Vinton on the Louisiana side.  She recalls that she was playing the piano before she went to first grade.  Her music incorporates zydeco, blues, swamp rock, New Orleans jazz and soulful ballads.  She collaborated with Tracy Nelson to write the song “Where Do You Go.” I don’t know the year, but it was before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, because they revived it as a response to that disaster.  It is a song about being down and out with no place to go.

Where do you go, when you can’t go home.

What do you do, when things go wrong.

Who do you know, when you’re all alone.

Where do you go, when you can’t go home.

MDS arrived in the Elgin area of Bastrop County, Texas and encountered people who’d had those feelings as a result of the March 2022 tornado.  The disaster was not on the scale of Katrina or the Labor Day fire in Bastrop County of 2011, so money was scarce. For the survivors who gathered in meeting after meeting to find out about options, the disaster was big enough.

Well, I look around and I see a whole lot of people just like me

Having hard times, Trying to get by on their own

When everything they’ve known and loved is gone.

For our five clients, the answer was to go to the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team.  After several interviews, plus efforts to gather copies of documents that had blown away in the winds, these five people received a commitment for a new home.

And all the promises they made, that there will soon be better days,

That we’ll have comfort and be safe, and be together once again.

Good things come to those who wait,   

And we’re still waiting, we’re still waiting

Our five clients are still waiting, but have all seen great progress made toward fulfilling the promise. After losing two days in last week’s big ice storm, we had a really good week of work. The weekly volunteers for the week included 8 young women from Wisconsin, a couple from Ohio, a couple from Pennsylvania, and two men from Ontario.  We also welcomed our new group of February crew leaders, office manager and cooks, hailing from Ohio, Michigan and Virginia.

There were enough framing hands to continue that important work. The crew at the fifth house had a great week, and by the end of Friday, the newly framed walls were ready for trusses. Ms. Patricia delivered doughnuts, cookies and fresh fruit to the crew and her brother-in-law set up a cart-mounted wash station so the volunteers could clean their hands.  Ms. Patricia and her sister came to supper at our base on Thursday evening. She told how she’d taken shelter in an interior room with no windows. As the tornado passed over the house, the shaking was severe.  She wondered if she would end up flying in the air.  Afterward, she walked out of her house, turned around and saw that the roof was gone. There was no debris laying around. The roof was just gone.

Mr. Doyle’s house, our fourth, is about a week ahead of Ms. Patricia’s.  The trusses are up and the house is dried-in with underlayment in place on the sheathing.  Mr. Doyle is taking lots of photos, so he can show friends and family.  He is impressed with the strength being built into the new house.

House number 3 did not see a lot of work this week. We were waiting on the Bluebonnet Electric Coop engineer to determine where the service entrance would be. We met with him and Mr. Leonard, so now we can move ahead.

On the first and second houses, there were lots of changes.  Ms. Cristina’s house is now blue with new siding in place on the outside, while the inside walls and ceilings have a second coat of finishing mud on them.  At Mr. Refugio’s house, the open wall inspection passed, so insulation was completed and half of the ceiling drywall was put in place.

Well, I have worked every day of my life, I never took a hand-out, no, not me,

I hit a run of bad luck, I couldn’t pull myself up,

Next thing you know….  out on the street.

Studies have shown that a relatively minor problem can be the event that leads to homelessness for people who are just getting by.  For our five Elgin clients, the efforts of the MDS volunteers will help prevent that. What an honor to serve them.

From Bastrop County, Texas

Jay, Jason, Beatrice, Joanna, Brenda, Mike, Edith, Jonah, Laura, and Carl

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