We've made some progress on getting our house ready to
take in some
Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
On Labor Day, Emma and I thoroughly cleaned out the garage in the
alley, then put everything back much more efficiently, so that we
would have somewhere to store all of the stuff that was in our
On Thursday, Emma made contact with Roy, a doorman at her
chiropractor's and a native of New Orleans. Roy and his other family
members in the Seattle area are looking to bring up about 20 of their
extended family. Roy was very keen to learn that we were offering
space. Unfortunately, Emma forgot to get contact information from
Roy, although she left her card with him, and we have not been able to
reach him since, despite leaving messages at his workplace. He was
supposed to call her on Monday, but didn't. We'll try to reach him
again tomorrow. If we don't hear from him soon, we'll look
On Sunday, half a dozen of our friends came over and did a ton of work
in clearing out our basement. Literally on the order of a ton of
shelving, boxes, and other impedimentia was moved out of our basement,
through the back yard, and into the garage. We thank Delf, Dale,
Ernest, Mary, Ariana, and Ray for their hours of help, and Lyndol and
Frank who dropped by with a batch of cookies.
Earlier today, our friend Barb came by and spent a few hours helping
us empty out the spare bedroom. That room is just about ready to go.
Incidentally, Barb told me the other day that Alaska Airlines are
currently offering one-way fares from Dallas to Seattle for as little
as $89, so that's a likely avenue for bringing people up from the Gulf
We hope to see several of our friends back on Saturday and Sunday for
more work parties.
We've thought through what we hope to achieve and what we can
reasonably achieve, and we're scaling our plans back. It's better to
set a more modest goal and do it well, than to set an ambitious goal
and flounder badly.
We still intend to offer the spare bedroom, which is fairly
comfortable, for up to a year. But we're going to be doing much less
with the basement.
We arranged for a few contractors come in and make bids on what it
would cost to convert the large room in the basement into two
bedrooms. This includes cutting two egress windows (as fire escapes),
leveling the floor, repaneling the walls, framing a dividing wall,
fixing the drop ceiling, adding doors, and so on. The cheapest bid was
Instead, we now plan to make much more modest changes to the basement:
cut egress holes, install cheap windows, cover the unleveled floor
with carpet, repair the damaged paneling on the wall, drape some
cloths for privacy in the doorways, and get some beds from
We intend to make the basement available just for a few months. It
won't be as comfortable as we had originally hoped, but it will be an
improvement on sleeping on a cot in the middle of the Astrodome.
I had other concerns too, apart from the upfront cost of renovating
half of the basement. Even if we did most of the work ourselves, with
help from friends, how timely would we be? It's several weeks of
part-time work and realistically, we can't hope to get a large amount
of volunteer work to see a full project through. In the long term
moreover, creating two nice bedrooms is a waste of effort, as we have
very different plans for the basement.
I also have concerns about taking on half-a-dozen people for up to a
year. Going from a childless couple in sole occupancy of our house to
an eight-person household completely changes the dynamic. I don't want
to feel like a stranger in my own home. Having two extra people for a
year with a few more for a few months is more emotionally
The ongoing cost of running the household is also a concern. My
contract at Microsoft ended last week, but I've got four interviews
lined up, so I expect to be back at work shortly. However, Emma just
quit her job to start her own
business, so we're going to be losing money on that for quite a
In short, I want to do right by the evacuees, but I also have to do
right by us.