By Ann McCreary
Volunteers from around the country are continuing to arrive to help with clean-up and rebuilding after the Carlton Complex fires and mudslides.
This month a group of Americorps volunteers, called the “Silver Team,” arrived to work throughout the disaster area until May 15, said Leslee Goodman, communications consultant for the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group (CCLTRG).
Dressed in paramilitary clothes, the volunteers come from as far away as New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin and Florida. A second team of Americorps volunteers are scheduled to arrive on June 1st for six weeks, said Goodman.
Another group, called the “Dawn Patrol,” arrived this month from Chehalis, Washington, bringing heavy equipment including excavators, dump trucks and a backhoe, to load and haul ash, debris, broken concrete and metal that must be cleared from home sites before construction can begin.
The group chose its name because the core group of Christian men meets every week from 6–7 a.m. around a campfire, Goodman said.
In addition to heavy hauling, the group plans to plant 100 large trees in Alta Lake State Park to replace trees lost to the fire, Goodman said.
A group from the Western Anabaptist Ministry Services plus a team from Christian Aid Ministries were also expected to arrive this month to help rebuild fences damaged in the fires and slides.
Members of those organizations last month built several miles of fence, hauled away three dump truck-loads of debris, felled, bucked and stacked 48 burned trees, built a carport, skirted a mobile home, and removed foundations, Goodman said.
They worked on properties in McFarland Creek, Balky Hill, Upper Beaver Creek, Finley Canyon, Pateros, Alta Lake, Brewster and Malott. Their 400 man-hours were worth an estimated $10,000 in donated equipment and labor, said Goodman.
Last week nearly 100 college students from a college Christian organization donated 2,500 hours of work.
“At $10 per hour, their efforts constituted a $25,000 in-kind gift to the community,” Goodman said.
“Each time a team of volunteers arrives we get to see something wonderful unfold,” said Carlene Anders, CCLTRG executive director. “It gives a huge boost to the survivors, and volunteers walk away knowing they have made a real difference.”
While properties damaged by the fires and slides are being cleared and cleaned up, the recovery organization is working to finalize criteria that will guide which homes lost in the fire will be built first, said Anders.
A survey conducted last fall identified 42 homeowners that are in need of assistance because they were uninsured, underinsured or have other unmet needs.
Reconstruction of lost homes will be done in phases, Anders said. The first phase will focus on 10 homes, most likely for people who are identified as having “higher vulnerability and higher need,” Anders said.
The cost of constructing the first 10 homes is an estimated $900,000. The money has not all been raised for the first phase.
“We’re trying. We’re close,” Anders said. “We’ve been whittling away at it with in-kind or volunteer contributions,” she said.
She said disaster case managers are continuing to gather information about people’s needs to help determine which homes will be built in the next phases, as funding is available.
To maintain confidentiality, the construction projects will be numbered, rather than identified by owners, Anders said.