December 06, 2006

A day of gutting, continued

[Some ivy growing
inside the house]

We made just as much progress today as we did yesterday. But first, let me finish talking about yesterday.

[The
house, carpeted]

Once we got inside, the damage was a little clearer. Anything that was sitting on the floor was visibly rusted or mildewed or whatever; things higher up may have had a little bit of crud on them, but it was clear that the house needed work. We'd already carted off a bunch by the time I took this photo; when we went to remove that table a couple minutes later, it pretty much disintegrated in our hands.

Some of the stuff we were pitching actually appeared to be in okay shape. For the wooden things, this was a little deceptive, because mould spores can get in there, and there's not a lot you can do about that. But, things of metal or ceramic should be fine (if you wash them well enough). As I've mentioned before, I find it a little frustrating to see some "perfectly good" stuff thrown out. Fortunately, it was literally being tossed on the curb; FEMA and/or the city picks up the trash (eventually) for volunteer-run gut jobs. And residents of New Orleans are by now all too familiar with such things, so within about an hour of when we started putting stuff out, there were people pulling up in vans and pickup trucks to pick over the stuff for anything good.

That actually didn't go over so well with several of the other Knox folks. "That's somebody's life," they argue, "and it's awful for someone to go rifling through it!" True as that may be, it's still stuff that's being thrown out, and perfectly good. Nevertheless, the site leaders asked the garbage pickers to go away and come back later. I wonder if some of the student bloggers are writing about that? I'll have to ask them (or just check and see).

[The house,
uncarpeted]

At one point as we were just about done with removing furniture and carpet and appliances and stuff, a middle-aged man showed up: the house's owners' son. We learned a little about him and his family then; he had lived in this house since he was 3. His sister also showed up, a little later, and both of them were just gushingly happy that we were helping them out like this. Their parents are currently staying in Memphis, but other family members are living in the RVs out back, and they're really eager to start rebuilding.

While the son was there, one of the trash-pickers started talking to him, and evidently he claimed to be in the subcontracting business or something, because the son took him in to show him around and talk to him. We were just in the process of removing the doors---beautiful old wooden panelled ones---and the guy was telling the son he shouldn't throw them out and they'd be impossible to replace or at least very expensive. That made for an interesting altercation between the site leader and the "crazy guy" (as he was later dubbed), because she was trying to explain that the mould spores are in there even if you can't see them, and he was trying to claim that they're all on the surface of the painted wood and you could wash them off. I'm actually more with him on this, because A) there was a thick coat of paint on the doors, B) you can get the surface crap off with a good attack of cleaning solution, and C) if you repaint the doors starting with the right kind of primer, you can seal it in (which is basically what they do with the framing studs). In any case, the son decided to save the doors, so we kept them in a stack for him to reinstall and repaint later.

[Gutting in
        progress]

After lunch, we really got started on the gutting proper. Once you decide to gut a wall, it gets stripped to the studs. In this case, there was a layer of drywall over a layer of plaster and lath; so basically, you hack at it with a hammer or the short end of a crowbar or wonderbar until you loosen the drywall and plaster; then you use the claw end of the hammer to pull down all the stuff, including the lath. It kicks up a lot of dust.

At the end of the day, we'd put out a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. This is a big house, but we filled the entire terrace in front of the house, then moved around to the side and filled that up too; the tool truck obscures it here, but the piles of trash extend all the way to the edge of the photo:

[Big load of
trash Posted by blahedo at 4:30pm on 6 Dec 2006
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