Alabama Mission Trip

Mission of Mercy – Helping Alabama Tornado Victims (part 2)

Tuesday, July 26th. We gained a new team member last night.  Erik has joined our team after driving in from the Houston area.  So now we are a team of 11.

We are headed back to job site #2 at Bobbi’s house.  Wow – how overwhelming.

When we first arrived here yesterday afternoon, we saw this massive mound of trees.  Bobbi lost 14 trees on her property.  After the storm had hit, someone came by and offered to bulldoze her trees into one large pile so the fire department could do a controlled burn.

The problem with that theory is two-fold… one, they bulldozed the pile into the tree line, so if they burn the pile she will take out her neighbors yard as well.  The other problem is that this is Hanceville, AL – a community with a volunteer fire department that has other priorities on their list – understandably.  Hanceville was hit with an EF-2 tornado; winds of 120 mph.  The damage lasted for 26 miles and was 1/2 mile wide.

Alabama Mission Trip

A huge pile of intertwined trees

So we have a pile that is probably 7-feet tall and as long as a semi truck and trailer.  The wood is all intertwined and you cannot pull anything out of the pile.  We also have to be concerned about what critters may be living in that huge pile.

The guys start the chainsaws and try to cut sections of wood for the rest of us to haul away.  They keep cutting and we keep pulling.  I have never seen such a variety of insects and spiders as I have in this pile of wood.

We continue to make smaller piles of wood so the skid steer can haul it to the road right of way.

It’s hot.  Temps are about 98 degrees before the humidity.  We have bandannas tied around our necks soaked in water to help keep us cool.  The weather forecast keeps talking about thunderstorms, but all we have is sun.  Our homeowner Bobbi is an absolute delight.  She comes to check on us a few times, even though she is supposed to be resting for health reasons.

Alabama Mission Trip

Now that is a chunk of tree!

We decide to eat our lunch and then split up our team.  The majority of the group will head to job site #3 for the afternoon.  Three people on the team will remain at job site #2 to chainsaw more of the pile and move it with the skid steer.

So we go to job site #3.  I thought Bobbi’s job was overwhelming!  This house sits on a lot completely surrounded by dense woods.  They have multiple trees down, including one laying on top of a car.  Some of the trees have fallen into other trees and we have no idea how we are going to get them moved since they are entwined in the limbs of the other trees.

Alabama Mission Trip

This car won’t be going anywhere!

The homeowner also lets us know that the property is covered with poison oak and poison ivy in the wooded portions.  We also have to be concerned with ticks, poisonous spiders and red hornets in Alabama.  No one on the team brought long-sleeve shirts, so we will just have to be careful.

The guys start cutting up these massive trees with the chainsaws.  We start cutting bamboo and hauling it to the road right of way (I never imagined that they had bamboo in Alabama and it’s huge!).  The skid steer is over at Bobbi’s house, so we can only clean out the debris we can move with our hands.

There seems to be a lot more work here that needs heavy equipment vs. handwork, so we send all but two of the team back to Bobbi’s.  I am sure the homeowner is disappointed… we are the third team to work her property and the last team was there a month ago!

We get back to Bobbi’s and we are determined to finish.  The pile keeps dwindling and we just keep going at it.  We had only planned to work until about 2pm because of the heat, but we end up working until 4pm.  The pile is gone and everything is raked up.  We even cut down a tree for her that was still standing but that she hated. (Excellent job Jeff on felling that tree!)

Alabama Mission Trip

One massive pile of moved trees!

Bobbi made the team brownies that we were able to enjoy that afternoon and even gave us a tour of her “Elvis room”!  Yes – we are definitely in the South!

(to be continued)


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