CCC Crews Return Home From Hurricane Michael Recovery Work

San Diego Crew 22 rolls a large tree trunk during Hurricane Michael recovery work in Florida.

Two dozen California Conservation Corpsmembers returned home from Florida on Thanskgiving Day after a month of helping residents undo storm damage to their property and homes.

Corpsmembers from the CCC Fortuna Center removed hazardous and downed trees from homes and property.

“There are homes we’ve come across where we’re removing trees just to give them access to their property to collect their things,” said Fortuna Corpsmember Kali Madding. “But as far as their house goes, it’s obliterated. It’s completely destroyed.”

In addition to tree removal, Corpsmembers from the CCC San Diego Center draped homes in blue tarps to shield them from additional rain. The tarps allowed some residents to return to living in their homes.

Corpsmembers put in six-day work weeks, in miserably humid and unpredictable weather. However, the conditions did not dampen Corpsmembers’ enthusiasm toward helping those in need.

“A lot of us would like to stay longer if we could,” said San Diego Corpsmember Rebecca Voorhees. “We feel like we’ve done a lot, but we would love to stay and continue helping the residents here. You feel badly for them, but you also feel like you’ve done something good at the end of the day.”

 

Fortuna Center Corpsmember Kali Madding carries a downed tree limb as her crew works to clear a resident’s driveway damaged by Hurricane Michael. 

Corpsmembers mostly worked in Bay and Gulf Counties, two of the regions hit hardest by the hurricane. The work was especially challenging, even for Fortuna’s more experienced sawyers.

“The debris we’re working around is nothing like we’ve worked with before,” Madding said. “The trees, they are no joke. The way they are jumbled on top of each other, it’s a different experience. We are taking precautions and being safe. And we’re all getting better at cutting.”

Corpsmembers said that seeing the damage on television does not do it justice.

“You just feel so bad about everything that happened to the residents,” Voorhees said. “We always want to do more, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

“You feel heartbroken that you cannot do more,” Madding said. “These communities need more help from everyone in the country.”

As they assisted the natural disaster victims in Florida the crews also kept a close eye on the wildfires in California. While the crews are excited to see their families soon, they’re prepared to help their neighbors dealing with wildfires.

The CCC crews were dispatched as part of AmeriCorps’ natural disaster response mission. The California crews joined conservation corps from throughout the country in responding to Hurricane Michael.

Crewleader Rebecca Voorhees prepares to fell a tree during Hurricane Michael recovery work in Florida.