Truckee, North Shore take assistance to sister city
Sun News Service
Trading lake views and relaxing days for the hurricane-flattened panoramas of the south, local Sierra and North Tahoe High School students offered their time and sweat over spring break to help rebuild the homes and lives of families that were devastated in Hurricane Katrina.
Ari Narlock, a Sierra and North Tahoe student, was one of 15 teens and their adult leaders of the Tahoe Forest Church who packed up and flew to Bayou La Batre, Ala., to help construct and finish the wrecked homes. They slept in cots at the Grand Bay Nazarene Church, woke at six in the morning and worked until the evening, supplying all of the material and tools needed to install flooring, the plumbing and electrical, sheet rock and new roofs. They filled Dumpsters with debris, the never-ending debris from destroyed homes and by the end of the group’s four straight days, four homes were ready for families to begin anew.
“It was a heart choice,” said Narlock, of his decision to volunteer over his spring break. “It was pressing on me to go.”
Earlier in January, one of the group’s leaders, youth pastor Nate Farnell visited the town that the troop later traveled to and that the Town of Truckee adopted as its sister city.
“There’s been significant improvement since January,” said Farnell of the storm-affected region. “Anytime kids can get out and serve people, they learn a lot.”
With support from the Truckee Optimist, Soroptimist, Noon Rotary, The Rock Garden, Lions Club several individuals and more groups, the church and student group was able to supply the project with enough material to really move ahead in construction. The tools bought by the group were left behind for others to use. In total, Narlock related, the students and their leaders completed more tasks than expected.
“They didn’t expect us to put down a whole sub-floor ” we got that done in a day and a half,” stated Narlock. And beside putting homes back together, the students were able to meet the locals and experience their generosity in return at a southern lunch, Narlock described, a southern barbecue fit with ribs, shrimp, gumbo and banana pudding.
Driving through New Orleans and by the unpassable Federal Route 90 bridge, Narlock related how silent everyone became.
“For miles,” he said, “five one way and 10 the other ” no houses. You didn’t see FEMA, you saw their trailers. It’s a third world country down there, ‘Baghdad’ was written on some houses.
“People’s wedding pictures were on the ground, teddy bears, shoes ” waiting to be thrown away.”
And that vacancy of life is why Narlock said the group is planning another trip possibly for the next year. He says there is still too much to do down there.
“It was an easy decision to go,” the young football player asserted. “Just to know we were fixing lives.”
The students and leaders who recently helped rebuild homes in the hurricane-destroyed south are holding an open house at Sierra High School on May 31 at 6 p.m. There will be a video presentation of their experience and a slide show of photographs. The Tahoe Forest Church is planning an adult trip to Bayou La Batre, there are still spaces left for those who would like to help. Contact Nate Farnell at 587-7725.
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