Boots on the ground: WCC assists communities after Hurricanes Florence, Michael

In addition to planting native trees and shrubs along rivers and streams, and creating and improving hiking trails, our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) members provide disaster services in Washington and across the country. Our crews and supervisors have assisted communities after fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, oil spills, and more. Join us for a closer look into our recent and ongoing deployments to South Carolina and Florida to assist communities after Hurricanes Florence and Michael made landfall.

Starting off a new service year with disaster deployment

WCC’s 285 members kicked off a new year of AmeriCorps service on Oct. 1. And just two weeks later, 12 WCC AmeriCorps members and crew supervisors traded their shovels for deployment ID badges as they departed for South Carolina to assist communities after Hurricane Florence hit in September.

A large group of AmeriCorps members gather for a photo in an indoor conference room. An American flag hangs on the back wall.

Sixty-two AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team members gather in Bennettsville in early November

Our teams were charged with setting up operations for additional AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRTs), and leading training sessions, such as cultural awareness, and safety, upon their arrival. Other tasks included managing volunteers and donations, and supporting call centers to record homeowners and community members’ existing projects and needs. They also headed out to the field to lead “muck and gut” efforts — stripping a home down to the studs to remove water-damaged material.

As of Nov. 17, A-DRTs had cleared 2,800 cubic yards of debris from homes and yards, and mucked and gutted 70 structures among many other accomplishments!

Redirected to serve in Florida

Two people wearing Tyvek suits and respirator masks carry a couch through a yard to the street.

WCC AmeriCorps member Seth Benish and supervisor Rob Crawford team up on the first muck and gut project. Photo contributed by Kristine Solis.

After helping establish deployment operations in South Carolina, five of our 12 WCC AmeriCorps members and a supervisor traveled to Florida to start setting up similar operations in Tallahassee. Communities there also need assistance after the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, especially on projects like hazard tree removal and roof tarp installation.
Our teams also welcomed incoming A-DRTs from six more AmeriCorps programs from other parts of the country, and provided initial training including how to install roof tarps effectively. As of Nov. 12, A-DRTs also had removed 383 hazard trees and installed tarps or performed temporary repairs on 31 homes or structures.

Fresh energy in South Carolina

Members serving the initial deployment to South Carolina returned home to Washington on Nov. 15, and our members serving in Florida will return home on Nov. 20. On Friday, Nov. 16, five additional WCC AmeriCorps members departed for South Carolina to continue serving communities affected by Hurricane Florence.
An AmeriCorps member carries small pieces of tree trunk and branches to the street.

WCC AmeriCorps members remove debris from
a home in Florida. Photo contributed by Paolo Rosen

Learn more about what happens leading up to and during a disaster response deployment on our latest blog. If federal authorities request and our resources allow, WCC also stands poised to help other communities in other U.S. states and territories recover from recent natural disasters.

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. 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