Teens From Maryland Re-build Homes Leveled by Irene
06/22/12 7:34AM By Charlotte Albright  Download MP3
Blistering heat hasn't stopped a couple dozen teen-agers from the Baltimore area from re-building two homes nearly destroyed by Irene last year. They call themselves DreamBuilders, and they came to the Upper Valley earlier this week from southern churches and synagogues. One of two homes they are helping to re-build belongs to Linda and Randy Hart.
When Irene struck last summer, their daughter Chelsea was giving her son his first birthday party. The family fled. When they got back, Chelsea says the house, just across Route 14 from a bridge over the White River, looked like a ruin haunted by ghosts.
"The muck and mud were everywhere, his presents were strewn all over, the outside toys were gone, the walls were missing," she remembers.
On Thursday she watched in amazement as new exterior walls rose from what was, on Monday, just a foundation. Chelsea's mother, Linda, says these teenagers are living up to their name, making a dream out of what was once a nightmare.
"It's been ten months of being basically homeless, you know, begging off friends and family, so this is great," Linda said.
Three long days, and a roof is ready to go on.
And many of these kids have never done construction work before joining the crew. Just ask Katie Mooney.
"I've never used a hammer in my life before, before, like this trip," she admitted.
But she's learned a lot already, not only about construction, but about community. She thinks of the Harts as good friends now.
"And they're so nice, they're so sweet," she said.
John McBeth, an adult leader of the group, says the DreamBuilders gain as much as they give touring the country helping people re-build after disasters. This is their first two-story house.
"People have been honking their horns driving by all day," he said. "Someone wanted to bring us a pizza, but our meals are all set. The outpouring of love we are getting from this community is what makes it all worthwhile."
The DreamBuilders heard about the damage from Irene, and contacted COVER Home Repair, a non-profit agency. COVER's director, Rob Schultz, says the volunteers brought not only labor, but money.
"And of course that's the real stumbling block for so many of the Irene homeowners, is that in spite of everything they do not have the money to move forward," he said.
Schultz hopes Vermonters will also continue to open their wallets and hearts to reach out to Irene victims, even if the storm is no longer making headlines.