A lot has happened since I last posted….Irene showed her ugly face here in Vermont and school started. Both of those things have been consuming a lot of my time and energy. When I’m not thinking about how lucky I am to have been relatively unaffected by the tropical storm that created such destruction and devastation, I’m trying to help out the people who were and create a classroom community of caring little learners.
I thought a post was necessary today to let people know that while two weeks have gone by since Irene and her wrath came to our lovely little state and the media coverage has certainly decreased, there are so many people that still need help. I didn’t realize the extent of what was going on until I went into the thick of it today. I went down to Waterbury with some friends to volunteer. I took some pictures around town which I will post below, but I didn’t take any at the house that we were assigned to work at because that felt a little too intrusive to me. The photos aren’t great, as I was trying not to be inconspicuous because this is so personal for so many….
We showed up at the volunteer station and were originally assigned to a house within walking distance from the middle of town in Waterbury. That house had the demo already complete and was ready for the concrete to be cleaned with bleach and the wood that was left to be cleaned with a gentler cleaning solution. When we got there no one was home, but the door was unlocked so we went in and it appeared that someone had already done our job. When we got back to the volunteer headquarters a man who was quite obviously known around town also showed up. When asked what he needed he responded with, “I need volunteers” and within minutes we were riding in the back of his pickup truck with shovels and boots ready to work.
We arrived at his house and I was overwhelmed. The back of the house was missing so you could see right into the basement from the backyard. He had already torn out his walls as most of these people have had to do. The first floor of his home was destroyed, but what he needed our help with was “mucking.” The basement had a layer of muck, a combination of mud and a whole bunch nastiness that raging water picked up on it’s way…..ranging from ankle deep to knee high. Our task for the afternoon…shovel the muck out. The 3 of us, plus 2-3 men, filled five gallon bucket after five gallon bucket passing it up to the people above ground to dump until we had that basement clear of muck. While we were shoveling, we were also removing cinder blocks and large pieces of foundation that had been broken along with personal belongings of this man’s….his kids’ legos, his cd collection, his test tubes (science major at UVM), his drum sticks and other pieces from his drum set…..all this stuff….destroyed. And while spending the afternoon with him, we learned that he wasn’t home to move his stuff up from the basement because he is a firefighter and was helping all the people in town evacuate. He was helping others while his home was filling with water.
We helped today, but we helped just one man who needs so much more than we could give and he’s swimming in a sea of so many that are in need. If you have any time available, I encourage you to contact a volunteer headquarter in Vermont.