Members of Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) on deployment in Texas have settled into the Houston area after completing training with fellow Corps members from Texas and Washington. CCMI dispatched 49 Corps members and three staff on September 5, 2017 to assist with relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana days earlier.
Already, CCMI members have been inspired by this community of survivors.
“On the first day, during wellness and safety assessments, one gentleman had a simple request: to get his jet skis on his trailer,” said crew leader, Clare. “He went on to explain that as the streets became rivers during the floods, he and his wife used their two jet skis to rescue over 100 people. Given everything he had done, the crew thought moving his jet skis was the least they could do.”
During their first week, teams assessed 179 homes for wellness and safety of residents, focusing on homes that include those with elderly, disabled or uninsured individuals. Of those, 34 were added to the schedule for mucking and gutting work as well as hazard tree removal. Crews worked on multiple homes in a day and completed their first home repair on Wednesday.
Other teams of Corps members assisted at the Houston Food Bank, sorting and distributing 906,500 pounds of food as part of Houston’s largest food donation effort to date. The full donation included 1,038,697 pounds of supplies. Crews created care packages that included food, hygiene products, school supplies, coloring books, diapers, infant formula and cleaning supplies.
The community is doing what it can to make our crews feel welcome. Employees of a local Walmart even cleared out their store, including the aisles, to make room for 1,400 volunteer cots.
On Sunday, September 17, Corps members traveled from Houston to Angleton to continue work mucking and gutting in towns within Brazoria County. Since the start of their service, they have finished a total of 10 houses (7 in Houston and 3 in Brazoria County), completed 79 safety/wellness checks and 13 damage assessments in Brazoria County, completed HAZMAT training and one team was trained in temporary roofing.
Community members continue to be grateful for the hard work and support of our Conservation Corps crews. Clare Riley, crew leader and Public Information Officer stated, "there is a strong sense of community and support even in this difficult time."
A community member and Pastor in Angleton who has been graciously feeding our Corps members, described the situation. Angelton literally became an island. The water rose up on certain roads. For two whole days, no one was able to enter or leave the city. The grocery stores were empty, all the food and water was gone. He described it as being "weirdly apocalyptic" even though it only lasted two days.
During an Emergency Planning Committee meeting that included community members from towns around Brazoaria, the fire department, health department, etc., one representative commented how, "the floods may be over, the hurricane may be over, but our response is not over."
Crews are working in conjunction with AmeriCorps NCCC, Florida Conservation Corps, and Washington Conservation Corps teams in Southwest Florida. CCMI and FLCC have done some hazard tree and vegetative debris removal from people's homes. The NCCC teams have canvassed neighborhoods, talking to homeowners and generating work orders. The WCC crews have helped train crews on temporary roof repairs and they have began placing tarps on people's roofs.
Here are some quick stats from their first 3 days of field operations:
- 66 AmeriCorps members, 19 Minnesota & Iowa Conservation Corps
- 1715 cubic yards of vegetative debris cleared
- 54 hazard trees removed
- 9 roofs temporarily repaired
- 18 home work orders completed