Today was our first day of working on disaster relief in the Florida Panhandle. There is still immense damage in the Panama City area from hurricane Michael which hit the area eight months ago. We were split into two groups and went to separate work sites around the area. The group I was in went to Mr. Claude’s house. When we got there the two tasks that needed to be done were hanging drywall and mudding.

Before we could start working, we had to learn how to do the tasks. First our project lead Mackenzie showed us how to take measurements of the drywall and score and then cut the pieces. We also learned how to use the drills and practiced drilling screws to the proper depth. For the mudding, we had to learn the differences between bucket mud and hot mud. Mackenzie explained when to use each and why. She then showed us how to mix the hot mud.

After the tutorials, we could begin really working on the house. I was on the mudding team and used the bucket mud with the paper tape on the vertical seams of drywall. After lunch, we continued with our various tasks and made much more progress.

Since this was the first day of work, it felt like it took forever to learn the tasks at the beginning, but by the end of the day, I felt that I was making progress on the mudding quickly. It was impactful to not only work on a house that was devastated by this terrible disaster, but I was able to talk to Mr. Claude and hear his story of the hurricane. This put in context the importance of our work. I am excited to continue to work on the house for the next two days.

– Catherine Litchy