Ramp Builders in Johnson City Help in Flood Recovery

  Tommy Levitt, quality control boss for the wheelchair-ramp building team from the First United Methodist Church, Johnson City, was the last man on the new ramp last week before it was turned over to Joe Calhoun (top) of Blanco. Once the decking dries out, the church’s youth will be back to put a coat of non-skid paint on it. 

Tommy Levitt, quality control boss for the wheelchair-ramp building team from the First United Methodist Church, Johnson City, was the last man on the new ramp last week before it was turned over to Joe Calhoun (top) of Blanco. Once the decking dries out, the church’s youth will be back to put a coat of non-skid paint on it. 

Johnson City’s wheelchair-ramp-building volunteers are changing their plans and diagrams to begin building storage sheds for survivors of the flooding on the Blanco River.

“It’s not something people think of in disaster recovery,” said First United Methodist Church pastor Lee Romero “but it’s a really important part of getting lives back in order."

“A family needs the shed early as they salvage their belongings out of the mud and debris, because there’s no place to put household goods when you’re sleeping in a shelter, a motel, or a friend’s guest room. Later, when they’re rebuilding, they’ll need a place to secure tools and construction supplies.”

The team plans to build the sheds the same way they do wheelchair ramps — constructing transportable modules in the shop, then assembling the sections on-site.

They’re confident they’ll have enough volunteers and tools, but the catch is buying enough building materials for as many sheds as are needed.

“We’ve whittled our design down to where we can build a sturdy shed that will withstand even another storm, but the materials cost $900. We have enough for some sheds, and have promises of more, but we’re a long way from having enough to meet the demand”, said shop boss David Hamm.

Reports from the flood zone say all the area storage space was grabbed up quickly, leaving long travel times to find a commercial storage facility. Having a place right on-site would make a huge difference to survivors.

“We’ll do our work in the shop during the week,” said Hamm, “then trailer the modules down to the flood zone and put them together on-site on the weekends. That way, no matter when a volunteer has free time, they can join a team and help. 

“And it’s not all men, either. Some of our best workers have been women, and with school out, we can put youth to work, too. We have a job for anyone who wants to help the flood survivors, no matter what their availability or skill level.” 

For more information about volunteering or donating to the storage shed project, call Angie in the Johnson City church office at 713-868-7414.