Boots on the ground: WCC answers deployment calls to the Carolinas and Florida

In addition to planting native trees and shrubs along rivers and streams, and building hiking trails, our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) members provide disaster services in Washington and across the country. Our members and supervisors have assisted communities after fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, oil spills, and more. So far this fall, our members have been deployed to South Carolina and Florida to assist families after devastating hurricanes. Learn more about our latest deployments below!
Five AmeriCorps members wearing yellow hard hats stand on a roof near a blue tarp they are using to perform a repair.

Our AmeriCorps members install a tarp on a home in Florida. Photo contributed by Chelsea Krimme.

Last Sunday, Dec. 2, 36 AmeriCorps members and WCC staff departed for North Carolina and Florida to assist communities after Hurricanes Florence and Michael made landfall. Members will collaborate with AmeriCorps programs from around the nation to remove hazard trees, install roof tarps, muck and gut structures, and serve as command staff to help organize the overall response effort. Learn more about current WCC community assistance and recovery activities in a recent blog.

Continuing response in Florida 

Our AmeriCorps members have been serving in Florida since mid-October. The first wave of AmeriCorps members helped set up response operations in Tallahassee, train additional AmeriCorps program members, and returned home to Washington Nov. 20.

Full of fresh energy, a second wave of 24 members and supervisors arrived in Florida this past weekend, ready to hit the ground running! They spent their first few days in Panama City training on how to install roof tarps, learning command staff roles, and getting ready to move into the field to assist people and communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. Primary field projects will include removing debris and hazard trees from homes, structures, and yards. They will also potentially be involved in stripping homes down to the bare studs to remove water-damaged material and prevent mold. This activity is called “mucking and gutting.”

As of Nov. 12, AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams, also called A-DRTs, had removed 383 hazard trees and installed tarps or performed temporary repairs on 31 homes or structures in Florida.

A WCC crew supervisor uses a chainsaw to cut a downed log, while another crew supervisor looks on. They are both wearing white hard hats.

Chelsea Krimme, a WCC crew supervisor, demonstrates how to safely remove a hazard tree. Photo contributed by Leo Arias.

Answering a call to North Carolina  

We have 12 WCC AmeriCorps members and supervisors teaming up with Utah Conservation Corps to assist communities in North Carolina, based out of the town of Willard. While several will hold command staff positions, the other 10 will serve as strike teams, assisting survivors with muck and gut projects. They are focusing on suppressing mold in homes and serving as a “mobile strike team unit” —  assisting prioritized homes and structures located farther away that have yet to receive assistance.

Support continues in South Carolina

Our second wave of members serving in South Carolina arrived in mid-November and they have already settled into their roles as part of command staff. AmeriCorps member Daja Curtis, serving as a media officer for AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team, was deeply affected by the effects of the storm immediately upon arrival.

A WCC AmeriCorps member kneels on the ground practicing using a hammer and nail by nailing a piece on wood set on the ground.

Before moving out into the field, AmeriCorps members receive training on tarp installation procedures. Photo contributed by Chelsea Krimme.

“After only being here for three days, I have been touched by the stories and amazing spirits of the survivors,” Curtis said. “The homeowners I've been in contact with have been underserved and faced many hardships, but they stay hopeful doing everything they can to start their lives over with a smile on their face.”

As of Dec. 4, A-DRTs have cleared 3,539 cubic yards of debris and conducted mold suppression on 11 South Carolina homes.

Learn more about WCC

Ecology's Washington Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program, provides hands-on experience, field skills, and training opportunities to young adults between 18 and 25 and military veterans. WCC consists of three subprograms: the original WCC, Veteran Conservation Corps and Puget SoundCorps. Recruitment for 11-month positions in the 2018-19 year has wrapped up, but six-month positions will open in January 2019! See photos of the types of projects WCC members support during their service in our WCC Projects Flickr set and WCC Featured Projects Story Map. Learn more on our website