Disaster Relief Crew

As residents continue to clean up from last Friday’s storm, volunteers from a statewide organization arrived in Auglaize County to lend a helping hand to those in need.

Members of the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief traveled around the area on Thursday assisting elderly residents with debris removal from last week’s storm. The group’s chainsaw division helped clear limbs and other debris as part of a program in conjunction with the Auglaize County Council on Aging. The group tackled six sites Thursday and they worked in New Knoxville and Wapakoneta on Friday.

“We’re an all volunteer organization,” member Jeff Bullock said. “We come out at people’s request and will pick up downed limbs and limbs that are hanging out of trees.”

Bullock noted the group is not a tree service. Volunteers help those who are unable to pay for the services of a tree trimmer.

“We’ll tackle as big a job as we can,” Bullock said. “If it’s too big, we’ll pass it along to a tree crew.”

On Friday, limbs from several trees and whole trees filled the yard of a residence on Canning Factory Road. They spent the entire day cutting the wood into smaller pieces so it could be hauled away.

On Thursday morning, the chainsaw division helped clear limbs from 255 Marsh Drive. Limbs from a huge tree fell in the yard and landed on the dwelling’s roof.

“EMA offices will contact our national offices and it funnels down from the state and to the local level,” Bullock said. “Then we’ll get a team together and assess the sites.”

The volunteers arrived in St. Marys Tuesday night and got to work Thursday morning.

“We have an alert program where the teams will be notified in e-mails or phone calls and are put on stand-bye,” Bullock said. “As time goes by and the storm does cause significant damage, we’ll go to the next alert stage and then start assembling a team.”

He noted having the opportunity to help residents in need in the wake of a disaster is rewarding.

“We see God’s love for us and this is just one way we can show communities that God loves you through us,” Bullock said. “It’s just a great way to show it.”

Bob Warren, with the Auglaize County Council on Aging, touted the group’s work.

Warren noted residents who called were put on a list and that list was prioritized by those needing the most assistance.

“Last year the disaster team came in from around the state and helped out during the floods,” Warren said. “Troy Anderson suggested we have them come in again. He gave them a call and they said they’d be willing to come in ... We’re hoping to get to the people who cannot afford to have tree removals services come in.”

Warren said it’s the ACCA’s mission to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible.

“If we don’t have the resources locally, we’ll call in whatever resources we need to get the jobs done to keep them safe,” Warren said.

As a group of volunteers worked to clean up his yard, Donald Schell, 81, expressed his gratitude for their work.

“It’s just wonderful,” Schell said. “It was a tragedy that hit. I just got him and a limb fell across the street. ... The council on aging had it in the paper and I called as quickly as I could.”

Hillsdale Church provided lodging, Shekinah Temple and Victory Center Church of God provided meals and Shell gas station on Indiana Avenue provided ice to the team.