Humbled home builders return from Gulf Co
DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. – Within 30 minutes the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina poured 10 feet of water into the Gallianos’ Diamondhead, Miss. home.While the water receded over the next 30 minutes, cabinets fell off walls, the refrigerator toppled over and the drywall was soaked through.
“It looked like someone had just thrown a bomb in there,” Gypsum resident Deb Dutmer said.Dutmer and her family joined a group of 11 volunteers from Eagle County on a Thanksgiving mission to repair Kelly and Laurie Galliano’s 1,500-square-feet home, which is four miles inland from the Gulf Coast.”Insurance companies have declined to aid victims of rising water, claiming a distinction between flood victims and victims of named storms,” said Pastor Winsor Stough of Eagle Valley Community Church, who organized the group.
The volunteers drywalled the home over five days, saving the Gallianos thousands of dollars in labor and materials. Volunteers also cleaned the property, creating a debris pile 75-feet long and six-feet high.”I had never drywalled before so to finish an entire house was unheard of,” Dutmer said. “The only day we kind of took it light was Thanksgiving. The other days we worked until it was dark out.”The group didn’t finish all of the planned repairs, but left behind doors, carpeting, paint and kitchen appliances, among other supplies the family will use to continue rebuilding their home.
The group also delivered over 900 cans and boxes of food collected by students at Gypsum and Red Hill elementary schools. The food went to God’s Katrina Kitchen, a meal and supply distribution center in Long Beach, Miss., Stough saidVolunteers stared out car windows on their way to the center, unable to say a word about the destruction they witnessed along the beach.”Even the kids were in shock looking out the windows seeing a set of cement stairs rising into the air,” Dutmer said. Clothes, toys and jewelry from wrecked homes dotted the trees.
“It didn’t look like there had been any efforts (to clean) – that’s when you realize this is not going to go away in a couple months,” Dutmer said.In a way, the amount of work yet to be done on the coast discouraged Dutmer. Still, she felt a great sense of accomplishment helping the Gallianos. And for providing the materials and money to rebuild the Galliano home, Stough thanked the many donating businesses and individuals.”We truly felt that we were your ambassadors,” he said.
On the return to Eagle County, volunteers got a taste of a hurricane on a smaller, much colder scale. Sixty-mile per hour winds and blowing snow stranded the group for two days in Hays, Kan. Dutmer and Stough said they both would rather have spent the two days helping out the Gallianos.”I would much rather have extended the trip if we had known,” Dutmer said. “We could have got a lot more done.”
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vail, Colorado