Three weeks after the most powerful Hurricane to ever hit the panhandle of Florida left a wake of destruction most have never seen before,a group of scouts from Gardendale loaded up their gear and headed South to see what they could do to help the residents.
The Boy Scouts of America has a division of scouting known as Crews. Crews are scouts between the age of 14 and 20, but each crew is unique. Gardendale’s Crew specializes in service and giving back to not just Gardendale and the North Jefferson community but their dedication to service reaches to other states. In 2016 the Crew, also known as Fieldstown Volunteers, traveled to Gatlinburg to provide volunteer services where needed after the devastating fires that left 14 dead 1,700 structures burned, and over 17,000 acres burned.
They spent days working in the snow to help sift through rubble of burned out homes, helping residents look for a memento of their former lives. They also helped in debris removal. When Michael devastated the panhandle, they were able to arrive on the scene a lot earlier, but were not prepared for the total destruction that they would see. There were so many people that needed help. Where was all the help we need? That was asked so many times by broken residence in the area hardest hit by the storm. The St. Andrews church had set up a command center where volunteer groups could go to pick up “tickets” of what people needed help with and if those needs fit into your skill set, you just went out and started working. They provided tarps and chainsaws and the Crew provided the rest. For 14 plus hours a day the volunteers worked long, hard hours to assist with covering roofs, cleaning our houses, dragging debris to the road and cutting up trees. There was so much to do. While working on a tree that had fallen on a house, a gentleman came over to them and asked for help. He stated that he was a Veteran and that his truck had been trapped under a tree for 3 weeks and no one had come to help him. He said he had asked everyone. The entire community was still without power and people were living in their homes with no power, some with no water and many with gaping uncovered holes in their roofs. He also had a huge hole in his roof, but he was mostly concerned about his truck that he couldn’t even get out to get supplies or take care of everyday business. He said groups were just dropping food and supplies off in his neighborhood, but he needed to get out. Even though the sun was setting and these guys had been at work already 11 plus hours, they could not leave without helping him. For the next 3 hours they cut and pulled and dragged until the giant tree was completely removed from the man’s truck. By the grace of God, the tree had done no damage to the truck!
It was a short lived victory. The entire three hours they worked, more and more neighbors approached the group asking for help!!There was so many people that needed help. They said, please come help us next! Please.....no one has come. The volunteers sadly told them that it was too dark to work any longer that night. They had already been at it 14 hours! They had to travel back to Gardendale the next day, so they went back to the church to ask the entire neighborhood be put on a work order!! It is wonderful to see young people give of their time to make such a difference. It was definitely a humbling and heart wrenching experience. They were not able to help everyone, but for the ones that they were able to help, I know those resident’s were very thankful that a bunch of teenagers from Gardendale, Alabama have hearts of gold! Volunteers: Braden Foy, Seth Morin, Chris Baggett, Zac Pierce, Mechell Malone and Jennifer Pierce.