Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Flood aid arrives from across U.S.

So last Sunday Andy and I had the opportunity to go and help out in the Terre Haute flood areas. It was one of the more humbling experiences we have ever had. We were late of course. but we got there in time to help relieve some of our fellow Bloomingtonions. (From our ward and others) So Andy went straight to work. I think some of the guys in our ward will think twice before handing him a hammer again. He tore out the entire wall and studs in an hour and half with a sledge. (Granted it was a very small area maybe 20x12, but he did work really hard. I was impressed. I just pulled out what I could carry and shoveled yucky stuff out. The other guys from our ward and highland were awesome! They had started at 9 that morning and were really tired. They had already removed the inside walls, removed all the furniture (which was a lot for this little area) pulled out all the insulation. It was amazing what these guys had done by 2:00 pm when we got there. They were all amazing.

Volunteers bring help to Wabash Valley residents who were hit hard by storms By Brian Boyce and Deb KellyThe Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE — For anyone taking a drive around town this past sunny weekend, it might seem as if last week’s floods never happened.Many homes, even in some of the worst-hit neighborhoods, look just fine from the outside — except for the Dumpsters in front yards, the Red Cross disaster relief trucks rolling through neighborhoods handing out hot meals and various personal and household items lying just outside garages.A number of volunteer efforts have begun springing up to help those who were affected by the torrential rain and flooding experience throughout Terre Haute and Vigo County last week.The parking lot at Eighth and Voorhees streets was packed Saturday afternoon as volunteers from across the country joined at the First Southern Baptist Church to aid flood victims.“People are concerned, people are responding,” remarked Roger Beavers, a retiree from Richmond, Va., and a member of the Southern Baptist Church’s disaster team.When Beavers and 14 other Virginians received the call for help last Wednesday, they loaded up the trucks and were onsite in Terre Haute working Friday.“We did about 4,000 meals yesterday,” Beavers said about 4 p.m. Saturday. “The food is not what you’d get at a fancy restaurant but it’s what you’d get when you’re hungry.”The Southern Baptist Church’s team travels around the country following natural disasters, bringing with them mobile kitchens, showers, campers and communications centers.“Right after Katrina, we learned you can’t always count on cell phones,” he said. Shower facilities keep the volunteers clean, but also allow disaster victims without electricity or running water to take a bath themselves, he said.And working right beside the Baptists was the Fire Department of New York’s Disaster Assistance Response Team.“This hurricane season will be our 20th year,” explained retired firefighter Mike Mondello, vice-chairman of the program.Several of the agency’s retired firefighters were asked to help out during Hurricane Hugo 20 years ago, “and that’s when [our program was] born.”Today the group is 150-members strong, Mondello said as he and five co-workers loaded food into Red Cross trucks for delivery.The members are almost exclusively retired New York firefighters and receive no compensation for the work, but they bring with them a career’s worth of experience and cross-training in everything from mass care to search and rescue. The team in town Saturday also included two registered nurses, he said.“We go to every city in America and some of the territories,” Mondello said proudly.Both days, volunteers in bright yellow shirts could be seen in hard-hit neighborhoods, walking the streets in groups, helping to carry soaked carpets and other large household items out of homes and offering cleaning help.The volunteers came from all over Indiana, members of various stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They had organized crews and sent them to Terre Haute and Columbus, among other devastated cities and towns.Michelle Slack, 30, of Indianapolis said the group sent more than 400 volunteers to Terre Haute on Saturday and more than 500 on Sunday.Slack was working with others in her crew of about six in the southside neighborhood that sits between Seventh and 11th streets, just north of Springhill Drive. “We’re just going around and asking if they need anything — we’ve been moving a lot of carpet, and we’ve torn out some floorboards,” she added.Slack said she didn’t really know what to expect before getting to Terre Haute, but said she had been affected by “meeting the people and hearing their stories.”“Quite a few people, we’ve stayed busy at their houses,” she said. “We met one family whose cat drowned in the flooding, so it has been very hard for people.”Some houses appeared untouched, but a trip inside would prove otherwise, according to volunteers.Dave Williams, one of the leaders of one Terre Haute crew, said the thing that surprised him the most was just that.“You look at these houses and they look OK, but you go inside, and we’ve been ripping up floors, and you take out the drywall, and the insulation behind it is just sopping wet.”Matthias Sayer, 29, of Bloomington echoed Williams’ sentiments, saying, “Probably the most surprising thing is just how significant the damage is, where you’re having to strip a home out completely, down to nothing inside, and rebuild.”Williams, looking down the sunny street, said, “We know we can’t solve all the problems in this world … But there’s a lot to do, and we feel like we have sort of an obligation … try to help relieve some of the stress.”

(Pictures to come soon)
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