to Help in Mississippi
September 6, 2005
For the fourth time in nine years Bob Myers is being called to assist victims of a natural disaster.
Myers, director of administrative technology and services for Calvin College, will head to Mississippi on Saturday, September 17 for a week's work with those who lost so much to Hurricane Katrina.
Myers will be volunteering his time and talents on behalf of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee's Rapid Response Teams.
Myers says CRWRC has regional coordinator who work with FEMA, the Red Cross and others and that those coordinators will find a spot for the team to work and to stay.
"Sometimes we pull a 30-foot trailer that sleeps 10," he says. "Sometimes we just sleep on church floors, gymnasiums, camp grounds - whatever works. We eat with the local residents. We also tow a tool trailer with an assortment of tools. Usually the area coordinator will tell us in advance what we'll be doing, but I won't know until a day or two before I leave what I'll be doing or where specifically we'll be going."
Although he doesn't know a lot yet about what he'll be doing, Myers says that based on experiences in 1996, 1999 and 2004 he has a fair idea of what he'll be in for.
"My first assignment," he recalls, "was to St Thomas. Tough I know! That was one year after Hurricane Marilyn went through and I spent two weeks there putting FEMA tarps over roofs. I came home with Dengue Fever."
In 1999 Myers traveled to Bound Brook, N.J. which, at 48 feet above sea level, was the hardest hit city in the state following Hurricane Floyd. There he spent two weeks cleaning out homes.
"We carried people's belongings to the street to be trashed," he recalls. "We cut out drywall and sprayed down the studwalls with bleach. The intent of the Rapid Response Team is to get in quickly to preserve as much as we can."
In 2004 Myers journeyed to Wauchula, Florida for two weeks of work in the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie, arriving about three days after the hurricane.
"There we cut down trees from people's yards and houses," he says. "Where necessary we put FEMA tarps on the roof. The day after we left the town was evacuated and Hurricane Danielle came through."
Myers, who uses his vacation time for these projects, says it's an honor to be able to serve others.
"It sometimes appears that our work is really futile," he says, "especiallu working on one house at a time. However, every person we meet is overwhelmingly grateful. That makes it all worthwhile."
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