It has been hard to find time to sit down and write over the last couple of weeks. We have been working 10- to 12-hour days, seven days a week, in the heat. Our deadline is fast approaching — we’ve only got six days left, including “reveal” day.
Work, the heat and the daily thunderstorms have driven us past the point of no return. The other day our construction producer Andrew started teasing the crew about wearing their muddy boots in the trailer after a storm. We decided to get even.
Damon called everyone on to the site for a group picture and a “meeting”. When Andrew showed up the crew threw him into the mud, which started a mud fight that got everyone filthy. We had to hose everyone down on site but we had a good laugh. Working these kinds of hours, you need to let loose a little sometimes.
Today I did something that I’ve only seen in movies — I took a ride on a fan boat. Let me say it is just as fun in real life as it looks on the television. Man they are fast! We saw the swamps and wetlands around New Orleans when we first flew into the airport and they looked endless. Up close they are strangely beautiful. The wildlife — the alligators, the birds and the bugs — is incredible. The camera crew came along to shoot it for the show, but I suspect they just wanted to get out of the grueling work back on site… and who wouldn’t? I wish I could have brought everyone out.
At the house, the drywall is done, most of the painting is done, the deck has been framed, the metal roof is on, the solar panels installed and now we have people everywhere doing last minute things to finish up. We will definitely be finished on time. In fact, I think we will be done by August 29th — the goal I’d always had in my mind. That’s the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, three years ago.
It’ll be very good to be done because it looks like another big storm is coming this way. Still classed as a tropical storm Gustav is growing and will reach hurricane status very soon. It could hit Louisiana by Katrina’s anniversary and if the storm does turn this way I want to get my guys out of here. I bet the safest place in this entire city would be right here in this house we are building, but we’ll evacuate like everyone else in this city if it comes to that.
Earlier this week we had a massive group of volunteers show up on all of the sites to help clean up and to sod the properties. The streets were packed with people pushing wheelbarrows, sweeping the streets, loading and unloading skids from trucks and trailers and forklifts. It’s all coming together in a hurry.
The push is on now for everyone. Unfortunately I don’t think the other houses on the site have been able to bring it together like our team has. It really goes to show the value of those that you surround yourself with. When you find good people you need to make sure you do everything in your power to keep them around. I’ve been given more than I could ask for in these guys. Not only do I consider them the best damn employees out there but they are also friends — and family. We’ve been through so much together and this effort has only served to strengthen that bond.