My husband retired after 55+ years of doing engineering work and construction. We were having breakfast together on a weekday, a first day of him being home, a new experience for us.
“I wonder in all these years of doing engineering work and construction, you must have interesting experiences to share. Would you be willing to share a few with me?”
I have many, would be hard to choose a few.
Now, we have time, I smiled, choose any one that comes to your mind now.
Well, the first project we had in California. As you remember, we had several projects in Houston. When the Houston’s economy suffered greatly due to the oil industry collapse, all of the construction projects were impacted deeply. I remember it was during 1985-86 that many owners of the apartment complexes with low occupancy preferred to demolished construction projects, I think over 5500. It was a tragedy. We were desperately looking for options. We had a project, an apartment housing of 330 units. We had built about 100 units when the economy was impacted. We were forced to stop and the bank too over. The apartments that we were to be sold for 80 to 100,000 were sold for $18,000. There was no options for construction in Houston.
A friend of ours shared that some investors in Orange County have a 54 units apartment building looking for developers to do the project. The director came to Houston and we signed a contract in October of 1986. The blue prints were completed. My partner & I went to California and rented an apartment and started the project. Remember it was very difficult for me to be away from home with our three young children.
Yes, I do remember, we had to do what we had to do. It was tough for the whole family.
My partner had a health issue and had to return to Houston. We worked hard on this project day and night. One year later, We were working on the roof. I advised the project manage and the workers before asphalt close all the rain drains to prevent asphalt going into the drains. They did. After the roof was done, we heard there was possibility of rain that night. Before leaving, I advised everyone to open all the drains before closing for the day and went to my next appointment.
That night it rained hard. It wasn’t just rain, a thunder storm and streets were blocked. It was an unusual rain for southern California. When I went to bed, I thought to myself I trust the workers had opened all the drains. With this heavy rain even if one drain is blocked, it may threat the roof collapsing. The rain became heavier. I couldn’t sleep. The thought of the roof coming down was occupying all of my mind. I got up about 1:30 am in the morning and drove to the project. I couldn’t see in front of me. The wipers were not working fast enough to be able to see where I was going. No one was there, only me, a dangerous drive. It took me a long time to get to the building. I couldn’t see well. I had to take the stairs to go to the roof on the 4th floor, no stair rails yet, no lights. With every step, I was taking a deep breath focusing all my attention on my steps. When I got to the roof, the water was to my ankle. The roof looked like a shallow pond. I don’t remember having had a flashlight with me. My glasses were wet, had nothing to wipe them with. I started checking the drains. I found three that had not been opened! To unplug them was a task I will always remember.
I got home around 4:30am that morning and when I went to bed was the time that I regularly woke up to go to the site. I will always remember that night.
Yes, I remember that night. I was insisting for you not to go fearful of having an accident. I thought you trusted the manager to do his job, yet I knew you had to go because it ultimately was your responsibility. I am grateful for your safety. You put your heart and soul in your work. I honor and respect your work ethics. I know the investors were people with dignity and integrity and became friends which makes the whole experience worth it.