Team Rubicon is assisting in the flood recovery effort in West Virginia by helping individual homeowners clean up. We do things like remove soaked contents, rugs, sheet rock, insulation, trees, and mud from their homes.
We deployed to Summersville in Nicholas County, one of the three worst hit counties in the state. I arrived on the first day of the deployment. I spent the first day working at our forward operating base evaluating requests for assistance. The second day, I went out and conducted damage assessments, and on day three, we went to Richwood, the hardest hit town in Nicholas County to finally get dirty.
We cleaned up two homeowner’s properties and both had debris lodged in their chain link fences that pushed them over. We re-dug the post holes and set the fences back up. I was especially happy to help the one elderly man do this so he could let his cats out in the yard again. Then we went to a church and emptied the basement of several folding metal chairs and scooped the mud out by the bucket. The pastor came out when we were done to thank us and say that we were doing God’s work. I guess the way I think about this is closer to the Buddhist teachings: serve other people, stop suffering, and remain unattached; it needs to get done so just do it.
The most satisfying thing about helping out there was the people’s reaction. They were so grateful for the outside help that came in. When I was picking up supplies at Wal-Mart (as the local store donated $15,000 worth of gift cards to TR), people would come up and thank us. One woman whose home we were assessing asked where we were from. I told her “Virginia” and my fellow TR member said North Carolina, and she had to hold back the tears because she was so grateful we had come that distance to help them. I wish I could have stayed longer because it’s great to work with people who are volunteering to help others.
When I got home, I slept so soundly. The kind of sleep when you’re bone tired and spent the past three nights on a cot in a high school gym with 40 other people. Most importantly, I was satisfied.