Miss Mae Mathews
Miss Mae and her daughter and husband were not going to leave. They had sat out storms before but when they saw a wave of water come over their garage, it was time to leave for higher ground. They went to a local church. When they returned to the house it had been flooded to about four feet high in each room of the house. To add insult to injury Miss Mae, at 74, suffered a stroke and was in the hospital for three weeks after the hurricane unable to care for her property.
“It’s like you’re dreaming. Ten months later the reality hits you. You hold it back…All my life I’ve never seen anything like this. You see it on TV. You see it all over the world. You always think it will never happen to me.”
One crew spent the entire week working to sheet rock, paint and place a chair rail on as many of the rooms in the house as possible. They also washed the mold off the outside of the house. A day before we were to leave we started to re-roof the house.
One of Miss Mae’s special stories was about her four grandchildren aged nine, seven, six, and three who had been sent to relatives before the hurricane hit. They had been told what happened and were somewhat prepared for what they would see when they returned. To ease their return Miss Mae wanted them to have something special when they returned so she asked her family to build a tree house.
“ They had to go in the yard find all the lumber, wash it and build the most saddest, pitiful tree house if you could call it that. They went out into the yard to that little tree house. It brought back the smiles and playing and laughter. That took their minds off of everything else. The tree house will be there until I die. That sad little tree house brought more happiness to those four children than if you would have gave them a brand new tree house. This wouldn’t have been more special. “
We all wanted to leave Miss Mae with all the tasks we had set out completed. We ran out of time for some and had to leave before the roof was completed. We were blessed that one of our group could stay to see that the roof was finished with the aid of the church that had helped us by loaning us the tools we needed to do roofing.