Couple, unborn child, get home restored after flood
June 13, 2010 at 1:13 a.m.
Updated June 14, 2010 at 1:14 a.m.
A small crowd of strangers gathered inside Chris Gonzales and Jessica Buie's living room on Cypress Street on Sunday afternoon.
The two, who are expecting their first child together, squeezed each other in an air-tight embrace and burst into tears.
It was the first time the couple had seen the restored home since it was damaged by floodwaters in May.
"My baby has a home," Buie, 20, said after she could find the words to speak.
Gonzales, 26, and Buie held each other as they accepted the keys to their once-devastated home.
"A million thanks to everyone ain't even enough," Gonzales said, after he'd wiped away tears.
A crew of about 50 laborers and community volunteers headed by Parkway Church helped to complete a $36,000 restoration project to give Gonzales, his fiancée, Buie, and their unborn daughter a new place to live.
"We're not as cool as Ty and his group of supermodels," said the Rev. Mike Hurt, pastor of Parkway Church, referring to the home makeover show. "So we didn't yell 'move that bus,' but here's what I will do: Here's your keys."
Shoes were tossed aside and the couple stepped lightly on the new carpet as Parkway Church members meandered throughout the house.
"I don't even know what to say," Gonzales said, standing in his daughter's bright pink future room. "Any word wouldn't even be close. I think just the look on our faces says enough."
On May 15, the couple had owned their home for only three weeks when Gonzales woke up to a room ankle-deep in water.
"It was just devastating, heart-breaking and emotionally crushing," Gonzales said, sitting in his master bedroom remembering the night.
The floodwaters devastated the home, ruining the floor, sheetrock, doors and caused mildew and mold damage.
"It was just a total state of disaster," said Jim "Bo" Maib, 54, owner of Bo Knows Remodeling and Renovations. Maib spearheaded the project after seeing the couple's story on a news broadcast.
Crews of skilled laborers worked 10 straight days, often in 10-15 hour shifts on the site to have the home completed in about three weeks.
Maib said he and his crews were spurred by the thought that Buie, who is due Aug. 2, will be giving birth soon.
"We just knew we had to do it," said Julie Sterne, Parkway missions director.
The church received thousands of dollars in donations, materials and services to complete the project.
Back in the master bedroom, after the small crowd trickled away, Gonzales puts his hand to Buie's stomach.
"She's been very active the past few days," Buie said, sitting cross-legged on the bouncy carpet. "I guess she knows her house is ready."
Gonzales said he never would have expected a new home from strangers like this, but he was grateful to everyone involved.
"This is all possible because of people," Gonzales said. "Nice people who don't need to know you to do something good."
And for Maib, that happiness is exactly what keeps him going.
"That makes it all worthwhile," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "It really does. For everything else, there's MasterCard, because you can't buy that."