Monday, November 5, 2012

Extreme home makeover humbles South Memphis homeowner

From Saturday's Commercial Appeal...

While she didn't realize it, Annie Moore was living in her home that easily could have been condemned. Her water heater was leaking for two months, and Moore didn't know where the water was coming from or how to turn it off.

Over time, water migrated into the sheetrock, the doors, and her furniture. The steady flow of water seeped into her entire 1,200-square-foot brick South Memphis home. Every night she went to bed with wet feet.

"I was thinking, I'll find a way. I'm going to get a loan. I'm going to start working on this," Moore said. But with health issues and surgery looming, the retired state worker was overwhelmed by the crisis.

It wasn't until a neighbor called the city and complained about a possible broken water line in her backyard in late July that city and utility officials were alerted to the problem.

On Friday, through a combined volunteer effort by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, ServiceMaster by Cornerstone in Cordova, CRND of the MidSouth of Collierville, Carpet Tech, Habitat for Humanity and others, Moore moved to a house that had been stripped to the studs.

Just before she arrived, after living in an extended-stay that had been paid for by volunteers, Robert Johnston, who heads ups MLGW's Project Care, laid down a new welcome mat in front of her door.

Gingerly aided by a walker as she continues to recover from triple heart bypass, Moore, 65, couldn't believe the extreme home makeover. "It's gorgeous. It's just like a new house," she said. "I love it."

With an annual budget of $10,000 from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the utility company can help in extreme emergencies as long as the cost is between $500 to $1,000 by repairing minor damage like water or gas leaks or HVAC issues, Johnston said.

"It was obviously more than my budget," he said. That's when he started calling to see if he could find Moore help. Most agencies he called said no. "I had a problem I couldn't address," Johnston admitted.

That's when ServiceMaster by Cornerstone franchise owner Mark Jowers agreed to help.

In all, about $40,000 was spent on the project through donated materials and time from a half-dozen companies and nonprofit groups. Jowers said his company donated about $20,000 in labor, debris-hauling and cleaning.

In addition to the materials, 11 energy technicians worked on weekends and after hours repairing Moore's house.

"It's been a long process, but it was worth it," said energy technician Will Williams. "If the Health Department had come, they would have probably condemned it."

The fiercely independent Moore never realized how close she came to losing her house. "I never thought I would be in a position where I was homeless," she said as she sat on her new, gently used love seat. "Who thinks that? I worked all my life. I contributed to various charities. I volunteered when Katrina (victims) were here. I'm a giver. I never thought I would be a receiver. I never thought I would be in that position."

Still, Moore said she never lost her faith: "He sent somebody to me because I didn't have sense enough to reach out and get help. I should be ashamed to say that but that's basically it. You have to give it up to a higher power and listen. I am more humble than I have ever been in my life. It's a life lesson. I thought I was listening but I wasn't. It's just amazing. I am so grateful."
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