Bur Oak Land Trust sawyers are packing up to help storm ravaged Kentucky

Hannah Davey, Bur Oak Land Trust AmeriCorps member, clears branches in Cedar Rapids last fall after the derecho. Photo by Bur Oak Land Trust.

Local news: KWWL and The Gazette

Bur Oak Land Trust staff and AmeriCorps members experienced devastation firsthand from last year’s derecho. That’s why they’re heading south.

“We saw many damaged homes and people trying to recover without power after the derecho,” said Executive Director Jason Taylor. “Our chainsaw skills allowed us to help our community then and we took this opportunity to help another community in need.”

Taylor and AmeriCorps members Hannah Davey and Natalie Schoen are driving more than 400 miles Tuesday to deploy with Team Rubicon, a nationwide nonprofit that has historically harnessed the experience and skills of veterans and first responders to quickly respond to disasters. The Bur Oak team will spend 6 days in the field in Mayfield, Kentucky, about 2 hours northwest of Nashville, under Operation Unbridled Spirit. The crew will return Tuesday, Dec. 28 to Iowa City.

“Our main mission is to support the team however best we can,” said Taylor, a Marine veteran. “This can include everything from tarping roofs and cleaning up debris to removing downed trees as part of a sawyer team.”

This will be the first time this Bur Oak crew will respond to a disaster still in crisis response where much of the community infrastructure is down including power and gas utilities. For this crew, those reasons and the holidays coming up fast solidified their commitment to serve.

“Volunteering on a disaster response team means helping out a community that has just lost everything,” said Davey. “They don’t know where they will be for the holiday, what their celebrations might look like or if they can even think about celebrating in any way. I can volunteer to momentarily pause my celebrations to help this community get started on what will be years of rebuilding.”

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