Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hurricane Alex photos of the B2B property

I don't have a ton of pictures from the Back2Back property during the storm but these paint about 1/100th of the story. We had 40 inches of rain in less than 36 hours. The property is on the side of a rather large and steep mountain. We received RIVERS of runoff for days. In this runoff was everyone's septic from the entire neighborhood. One of our interns described the situation like this: "the neighborhood properties were like ice cube trays. They filled up and overflowed onto each other." We had a new "river" form on the property almost every hour. We had to blow holes through the perimeter walls every couple of feet to keep the walls from collapsing. There were 4 large groups of American teams here during the storm. Everyone was soaking wet trying to redirect water through the property and sweep the rivers that started flowing through the dorms. People were awake all night blowing holes through our walls, moving cars (mine was almost lost.... darn), making barricades, removing buckets of water out of Todd's first floor, sweeping out the river from the LDM, bringing water to sick people and praying. We lost power for about a day.

The ground became so wet around the property that 5 foot deep man holes developed in random places. At 5:30 am, I was walking with one of our nannies- Meg Weaver - who lost her shoe in the rivers- to try and check on the intern girls, see if anyone could leave the property, bring them water, etc. Walking from one end of the property to the other was like being in the movie 2012. Matt Cooper woke up and walked out his teen home door only to fall chest deep into a man hole that he didn't know was there. That was my picture of the day.

Most staff hadn't slept in 24 or 30 hours. Few made much sense in their instructions. But everyone pitched in. The groups were amazing. The interns were like marines. God protected us all. I don't think I'm going to be near any mountains next time a big hurricane comes through. I could have never imagined how insane this was location was going to be during the storm.

Another insane sight was watching our 120 american guests finally get out of the neighborhood. The bridges into our neighborhood were out. The "creek" that usually flows through there had turned into niagra falls. By the afternoon Friday, the water had gone down about 7 feet so Juan Porto hooked up a rope system and put harnesses on some people and the groups carried their suitcases over their heads and waded in knee deep mud and water to get to the high way to find their bus and try to get to the airport. Mexicans from the neighborhood stood outside all afternoon watching us try to evacuate. Once the last american visitor had gotten across, most went back home saying, "I guess the show is over."

The back wall behind LDM became a network of pipes to channel the water

this is me playing in the septic water that I didn't know was septic water at the time

This was the property's first river BEFORE things got bad

the clinic didn't float away although at 1 am when guys were busting holes through the walls near the clinic - i actually was worried that the building might collapse. I kept thinking about the email I'd send to John Guck if it did. John - you did good.

this was the "bridge" to get out of our neighborhood. 100 plus group members waded through this to get out

One of our many man holes near a teen home. Most of the teen homes experienced a lot of water in their first floors

The river out the back gate

I walked into the LDM at 5:30 in morning Friday- we had no power- no lights- american guests thought they would be leaving to make their flights which turned out to be canceled... and they couldn't get out of the neighborhood anyways so it wouldnt have mattered. I walk in to the LDM to find a RIVER flowing through dorm 1 out the front door and dazed and confused group members and interns like Anna and my sweet Quin (in blue- yelling, "I'LL SWEEP THE FLOOR!!!" just kidding) sweeping the water out the front door like a curling team. Go canada. Absolutely insane.

Today is Monday - the property is drying out. The sun is out right now. Praise God for that. Every teen on our property, intern, and staff are out right now cleaning stuff up for the 3rd day in a row. The teens on our property have been amazing. They have really come together for one purpose, stayed up all night removing buckets of water from indoors, shoveling gravel to redirect the rivers, cleaned, packed food for the rios, gone to the rios with us and offered themselves to help in any way possible. It's like one big team here. That's a good feeling.

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