GIFFORD -- Habitat for Humanity has been making progress in Our Town all week long. Of course, volunteers are rebuilding after November's tornado ripped through town. They're about halfway done with this project. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera takes us on a walk through one of the homes.
Kim Gollings is the volunteer manager for the project.
She says, "Believe it or not, we started on Monday. We're making a lot of progress. The foundation was already in place here."
They've been putting up walls and making rooms.
"We started building walls, the exterior and interior walls. The trusses go up. We've gotten to the point, right now, where we're putting in windows and doors. We're ready for insulation to be blown in. Electricians have been here, so we're moving."
Next, we moved outside for a look at progress there.
"Right now, you're in the garage. We're getting ready to finish putting the trusses up. From there, we'll install the garage door. We've got a couple more windows that we need to do on a few of the other houses, so a lot of those exterior things that need to be done."
The plan was to finish by next week. Is that still realistic?
"We sure hope so. I think everyone out here is just working incredibly hard, giving one-hundred percent."
So far, the progress looks great. All those volunteers have been working throughout the week. They're excited to get those homes done and the families inside. Anyone interested can still volunteer.
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GIFFORD -- After the tornado, it's taken a long time to get Gifford going again. But one family and two others are getting help building brand new lives. Habitat for Humanity is building three brand new homes and rehabilitating five others. The blitz is happening over 13 days. Thursday was day four. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield shares one family's story.
The house they lived in wasn't destroyed, but they lost it anyways. They were renting a home with minimal damage, but the owner sold it.
Now, in a matter of months, they've gone from having nowhere to go to owning their first home. Two adults, two kids and a dog crammed into a 20-year old camper can get, well, miserable.
"The first few days we moved in it, was pretty much raining everyday."
With the help of friends, they put on a roof to stop the rain.
"It was a mess, but it's getting better."
And a small deck to stop from bumping into each other.
"I told my kids, 'I'm going to be crabby, but we will work through it.'"
They've been here for weeks after being forced out of there home three days after November 17th.
"We were renting a house on the edge of Gifford. The owner is local. Her nephew lost everything, so three or four days after the tornado, she called and told us she sold the house. We were devastated. We loved Gifford so much. Our kids do so well in school there. We ran out of time. We didn't have anywhere to go."
It was tough finding a place in a leveled town. In the meantime, they turned what's usually a two-day getaway spot into a home.
"I bet I had about five people tell me, 'You would have been better off to lose everything because there's more help available.' Because our circumstances were a little different, we went to the meeting."
At that meeting, opportunity came knocking and they didn't just answer the door...
"We applied and got great news after that."
They started building it.
"It was such a relief. We're not happy that the tornado did happen, but it's something that we have benefited from."
On day one, the Westmorelands and two other families pounded away, building frames alongside hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
"One of the neatest things is when they framed everything, they gave everybody sharpies and let me write notes, but me and Tracy know they are there."
By day four, they were looking at the plans for this four bedroom, two bath home for the first time.
"It's an overwhelming feeling to know that when we move in, everything will be brand new."
With more than a week of sweat equity still to put in until they get the keys, they're already paying it forward.
"Our neighbors are having a little bit of a hard time getting their hours in. Next week, I am going to go to the Restore and volunteer to donate my hours to them so they can move in as quickly as we get to."
Because, even after all that, they look around at their tiny town and know, at the end of the day...
"It hasn't been so bad."
The homes are energy efficient. All the new homeowners had to put down was $500 and put in 250 hours of sweat equity plus pay a small mortgage.
GIFFORD -- An area community is busy with new construction. A building blitz is underway. Crews are building three new homes, repairing five damaged ones and finishing a dozen landscaping projects.
Dozens of volunteers showed up bright and early Monday, ready to get to work. The group's goal is to get the new homes built in just two weeks.
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