Corpsmembers Head to Florida to Assist With Hurricane Michael Cleanup

Fortuna Corpsmembers arrive at Sacramento International Airport for their flight to Florida. Two dozen Corpsmembers deployed to assist officials in the Florida Panhandle recover from Hurricane Michael.

Help is on the way to Florida to undo the miles of wrecked homes and lives upended by Hurricane Michael. On Tuesday morning, California sent CCC crews from Fortuna and San Diego to Tallahassee where they will dig in for their month long task of removing debris, downed trees, and getting homes prepped for rebuilding.

“If you have the skills and the will power to go do the work, why not go out and make a difference,” said Kali Madding, a Corpsmember from the CCC Fortuna Center. “It makes it all worthwhile knowing that we’re going out there to help a community that can’t help themselves at the moment.”

Kali and her fellow CCC Corpsmembers are 18 – 25-year olds who enrolled in the Corps for a year of service focused on environmental work and responding to natural disasters.

Before loading up for their cross-country journey, the Corpsmembers received a pre-deployment orientation on what to expect for the next month. The crews will first get briefed in Tallahassee then set out for assignments along the Florida Gulf Coast.

“Most of us are sawyers so we’re expecting to do a lot of tree removal,” said Fortuna Corpsmember Carson Beavan. “A couple of us are trained in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response too. We also expect to be gutting and mucking houses.”

Mucking and gutting is where Corpsmembers remove dirt and debris from homes, so buildings can be rehabilitated. For Beavan, the trip to Florida is a familiar one as his grandparents used to winter in the area that Hurricane Michael devastated.

“It’s such a positive experience to be the ones actually making a difference. We’re really looking forward to traveling and giving back,” Beavan said.

A dozen Corpsmembers from CCC San Diego Center line up outside of Lindbergh Field. The Corpsmembers and their supervisor will spend a month assisting with Hurricane Michael recovery.

In San Diego, the crew departing Lindbergh Field held similar compassion. The dozen Corpsmembers said they were looking forward to getting to work and making a difference.

“It’s just a feeling of helping people and knowing that you’re doing something good and that you’re doing the best to help out people who’ve had some bad things happens,” said Corpsmember Rebecca Voorhees.

After a month of working up to 14-hour days, seven days a week, the Corpsmembers will return home on Thanksgiving Day.
“A lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, a lot of contributing to the community we’re working in and helping put people back on their feet for the holidays,” said CCC Crew Supervisor T. Mike Asprey.

The CCC regularly responds to emergency incidents in California and across the country. The federal program, Americorps, requested disaster recovery assistance from conservation corps across the country and the CCC stepped in to help. In 2017, CCC crews responded to an Americorps request and assisted in Hurricane Maria recovery work in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.