In 2004, I organized a group called “The Chainsaw Gang” in response to Hurricane Charley that wreaked havoc on Florida. This group of Rotarians volunteered their time and talents to cut up downed trees and clean up debris. Unfortunately, the Chainsaw Gang didn’t get much of a break with Hurricanes Frances and Jean right on Charley’s tail. It was a massive clean-up effort and our crew did an amazing job helping out when and where it could.
For the past 13 years, we haven’t utilized the Chainsaw Gang. Which is truly a blessing! But after reading the NOAA reports that this could be the year our state could have big issues, I decided to reconstitute the Chainsaw Gang. So, I broached the idea to our Rotary Club, not having any idea of just how many would join up as many of us who were on the Gang then are 13 years older now and not quite as spry as we used to be! But, a nice number of former members of the Gang did sign up as well as did a number of other Rotarians and community members for the first time.
And I’m so glad we “got the band back together!”
Once Hurricane Irma hit our area, the Chainsaw Gang responded in-force! Many of the old Gang members showed up as well as many newer (and younger!) Rotarians. With chainsaws, work gloves and clean-up tools in-hand, the Gang was on the move to help our fellow Rotarians and our neighbors dig out after the storm.
A few of the calls we answered included clearing city streets, cutting and clearing trees so the homeowner could have access from their home to a public street, clearing a tree off a house where it had gone thru the roof and installing a tarp to keep out the elements, assisting a family that had experienced flooding of their house, and a great deal of basic chainsawing of downed trees.
So far, I’ve estimated that this group has volunteered more than 300 hours, cut up and moved more than 30 trees, and have cleared several tons of debris.
One of the side benefits of this type of volunteering is the intense camaraderie that takes place. Volunteers really get to know each other in a way they did not before. There are some Rotarians that I’d known by name, but never really knew all that well of whom I now call friends.
If you are looking for a way to help Hurricane Irma victims, my Rotary District (6970) has set up a fund for disaster relief. Contributions can be made to the district's York Foundation, a 501(c)3 tax deductible charity fund. Club and individual donations can be made directly online at PayPal.me/6970York.