And the troops are deployed…

March 10, 2012

At the end of our snow delay, we were given the go-ahead that roads were cleared and that we could head out and start helping to clear a site. We all met up at the dining hall to eat lunch, before heading out at 12 noon.  Because it was the first day for us, and rescue operations and FEMA were still getting organized all the teams would be working together (Once we get to CAP, they break up the School teams and “redistribute” us so that we work with students & advisors from other schools, each team is given a color).  We all loaded up according to teams and then caravanned out of camp.

Unfortunately, there are rules about going on to personal properties to do work, for liability reasons, and several consent forms had to be signed by the homeowner/resident and while there were many properties that needed our help, many of the homeowners/residents weren’t home to sign them. But the City of Salyersville waived these rules, to help begin the process of cleaning up and rebuilding that much faster. But first, we had to get a site that would support a crew of about 60 people. Then we had to get the permission of FEMA to get to the site. We ended up, sitting in the parking lot of a local Mexican Restaurant for a little bit, while the CAP employees got us the necessary credentials.

The sign at the Mexican Resturant. The resturant is a favorite of the long-term volunteers, some of them were eating dinner here on Friday night and had to hide in the walk-in freezer with the staff.

Amber & Jess all bundled up waiting in the parking lot

The whole group waiting for the go-ahead

More of the group waiting for the go-ahead

The site that we worked at on Monday, was once St. Luke’s Catholic Church (I’ll include a “before” picture), in Salyersville. Not only was the Church completely destroyed, the rectory was nothing more than a foundation, an outreach ministry building, the storage building, a grotto and a picnic shelter were also destroyed. Trees were snapped like matchsticks, and other nearby houses were completely obliterated. It was very surreal picking up the the pieces of the Church. Amid the rubble of wood, glass and stone, we would find statues that were minimally damaged or not damaged at all.

This is a picture of St. Luke's parish prior to the tornado

What was left of the Church when we arrived on Monday

The roof of the Church laid just to the right of the building

This is what was left of the rectory

The Statue of Jesus, that I think was probably on the crucifix in the front of the sanctuary

Standing the statue of Mary upright

One group, whose crew leaders were chainsaw certified (many of the long term CAP volunteers are chainsaw certified, the student volunteers did A LOT of moving of already cut wood) were called and asked to work with the county on clearing some trees that were down on roadway. We worked for about 3 ½ or 4 hours in the cold and snow. But all were troopers. We even had a local realtor and her associate who kept bring us chili, peanut butter sandwiches, and coffee to keep warm.


SNOW? On Spring break?!

March 10, 2012

We woke up this morning (Monday) to 2-3 inches of snow on the ground! Guess, our work boots will double as snow boots today!

Good Morning, Camp Caleb!

In order to make sure that we have safe travel conditions, we have been delayed, and won’t start out for a site until 12 noon. So, we spent our Snow Delay in a number of ways- the girls and Dr. McManus decided to nap,D.J.  played games with some of the students from the other schools!

Spending the snow delay napping!

D.J. is playing a variety of games with some of the students from other schools, during the snow delay... the girls, decided to sleep!

A little bit of culture and on to Camp Caleb

March 7, 2012

After we checked out of the hotel, we headed closer to camp, making a quick stop at Wal-Mart to pick up some last minute and any forgotten items. Since we still had some time to kill before check in at camp, we decided to pay a visit to Loretta Lynn’s Birth place, Butchers Hollar.  Although, it was closed to the public on Sundays (Many places in this area are still closed on Sundays), we were still able to drive by and see the General Store that is owned by her brother and look at her house.  Driving through the neighborhood and hollar, we got a firsthand view of the rural poverty that is widespread in Appalachia.

Group shot on the steps of the Historical Society

Loretta Lynn's Homeplace

We arrived at Camp Caleb shortly after 2:30 (check in time began at 2), and we were the first team (school) to arrive. We arrived just in time for a brief snow squall! We got our cabin assignments, unloaded our vans and started settling in for the week. Once everyone was settled in, tennis shoes were traded for boots, cameras were grabbed and the adventure of exploring the camp was on!


Camp Caleb... This way -->


Welcome to Camp!


Group shot at camp!

As the afternoon wore on, the other schools began to arrive, and WorkFest was on. The usual Sunday Orientation was replaced with disaster relief training, and still some uncertainty about what Monday morning would bring. Because of liability laws, we still didn’t have definite work sites, but the promise of work is there. We also have to be cognizant of FEMA officials and rules. This week is ramping up to be an experience like no other, different than what we had planned for, but we are still here to help our neighbors in need.

Semper Gumby

March 7, 2012

In our ASB program, we have a saying of “be Gumby”. Meaning that we ask everyone to be flexible, because you never know when plans may change.

That being said, this morning we received an email from WorkFest, the program we are working with this week. Due to the tornados on Friday evening we will no longer be working on our housing projects as planned for this week, instead we will be doing disaster relief. We called a team meeting before leaving the hotel to talk about what disaster relief may entail, what we can expect and should be prepared for in terms of debris, and how to understand and be consoling of the residents and homeowners. Everyone seems okay with the change and are ready and excited to work, to lend a hand to our neighbors in need. On the other side of disaster, you will find our Colonels with hands out stretched ready to help lift others back up to their feet.

We will most likely get more information tonight during our orientation session.

Ready, Set, Go!!!! Our Army of Colonels is ready to roll!

March 7, 2012

We're all together and ready to go! Our "before" picture!

Saturday morning, the team met at the SUB and loaded up our two vans to head down to Kentucky. Our vans were definitely snug… with 11 people and all of our luggage, bedding and snackage for the trip. We made a quick coffee stop and then headed South on I-81. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect travel weather, it was sunny, mostly clear and temperatures were in the 50s; the only exception was the wind.

We're all packed into the van and are ready to go!!!!

The traffic was also very light, with us being the only cars on the road in EITHER direction at times! It made traveling quite nice. On our journey down, some of drove and some of us slept and others of us read.

Clear skies and NO TRAFFIC!!!!

Caitlin is driving the green van!



Emily is driving the white van!!!



And the green van is out!


Devoni is reading while we roll!!!



Lauren is hiding from Dr. McManus' camera!

We reached our dinner destination, HillBilly Hot Dog ( , in Hunting, West Virginia around 7… An interesting time was had by all! It’s one of our favorite places to stop on our way.

Megan and D.J. are in the tub!



Emily and Jessica take their turn in the tub



Liz and Lauren in the tub!!!!

After dinner, we continued the last leg of our journey, to Prestonsburg, KY where we spent the night at the Comfort Suites Hotel. After a long day’s journey, we all crawled into our beds and slept like logs!