We have assisted this church in their acquiring an early 1960's III manual Wicks organ from a neighboring Lutheran church which disbanded. Our company assisted in dismantling and placing this instrument into storage. Local church members undertook the necessary renovation work (including mitigation of Termite damage!), and re-installed the instrument in place of the church's current older II manual Wicks organ, which was then going to be sold.
On August 7, 2005, we completed the Tonal Finishing for this project. The Dedication service was scheduled to be held on Reformation Sunday, October 30, but all events were interrupted by Hurricane Katrina.
We have recently returned from a work-trip in early December, 2006 to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in New Orleans. We had been dreading the prospect of returning to this church not knowing what would await us after the devastating effects and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005; some 15 months earlier.
Life is returning to the City of New Orleans VERY slowly, but NO East,where this particular church is located, is probably the second-hardest-hit area behind the (infamous!) Lower 9th Ward. As we drove through the neighborhood surrounding the church, we witnessed devastation ranging from residences that were relatively unscathed and folks are living in their homes to a completely bombed-out war zone;all within a few houses of each other! The basic pattern of destruction was that the further away from Chef Menteur highway (which is relatively high!) one gets going in the direc
ion of the lake, the worse the devastation was. You could tell if the house was uninhabitable by whether or not there was a FEMA trailer sitting in the front yard of the house hooked-up to the utilities and sewer.
The damage at Prince of Peace was also equally "fickle", in that the church itself had surprisingly minimal damage, both to the roof and to the interior. It appears there was no more than 3" of water that had made its way into the church, so fortunately the organ blower or DC electrical system was never submerged. However, because of the amount of time which passed before anything could be done to remove the water and clean up the church began, the water had wicked-up the plywood paneling and the sheet rock behind it and it all had to be removed and replaced. Due to the difficulty in matching the pecan paneling, the decision was made to substitute two layers of sheet rock, glued and screwed on the walls in order to enhance the acoustical properties of the church.
Meantime, the damage at the adjacent Prince of Peace Lutheran School building was much more extensive, since that structure received over afoot of water within the building and required a much more extensive re-rehabilitation in order to return it to usefulness.
Unfortunately, some of the articles which belonged to the church were removed and needlessly destroyed by well-meaning volunteers because the members of the Church Council had been displaced by the storm and could not adequately supervise the decision-making processes that were going on during the "mucking-out" phase of the restoration work.Unfortunately, some of the components of the organ were amongst those things which were lost during this process!
-all, however, the organ fared REMARKABLY well for having lived through an ordeal like this.
Because of the painful reality that at this juncture, the church could not possibly be in a self-supporting mode; largely because the neighborhood it serves remains completely devastated, the leadership of this congregation voted to lease the Prince of Peace facilities to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod-based Laborers for Christ for up to three years while the Laborers and other volunteers who come and stay at the POPLC facilities restore other Lutheran churches in town,as well as help both members and other neighbors in the NO East neighborhood.
The only request the leaders of this organization make is for the recipient to purchase the necessary materials while the "laborers",who serve as crew leaders and the volunteers provide the muscle for"mucking-out" the houses, followed by restoring them after the mechanicals and electrical systems have been inspected and replaced as needed by local contractors (a New Orleans city inspection requirement!)
We spent a 10-day period "bunking-in" with these good folks who came from all over the country to spend a week volunteering at Camp Restore. Some folks were from the various northern states and on every enjoyably memorable group was from the Carolinas and Georgia.
However, the BIGGEST personal surprise of all was when some person tapped me on the shoulder and said: "Hello, stranger!" I whirled around to find myself standing face-to-face with my former Pastor of17 years and his wife, Rev. Paul and Wilma Droegemeuller, formerly of Mt. Pulaski, IL! They have both since retired and are now living in Giddings, TX. During their retirement, they spend a go
d deal of their free time traveling back-and-forth between home in Texas where one of their sons lives and their other son and his family, who live in Florida. During their "in-between" time, they come and stay at the Camp Restore campground in their travel van since the camp has hook-ups and facilities for trailers and RV's as well as "dorm" type arrangements and gang showers in the school building. The Droegemeullers, of course, knew of my work from when our family were members of Zion Lutheran Church where he pastored and she taught (and in fact, she taught all three of our children in the Lutheran grade school there!) and we had re-done the Zion Lutheran organ back in the 1990's. Just the same, they were rather shocked but pleasantly surprised to to pull up in the parking lot and find our company truck there. I guess they had not realized we worked so far afield as to be in New Orleans. The coincidence certainly was uncanny, since this encounter was was not planned at all and was completely happen chance!