DEKALB BOY SCOUTS DO HURRICANE RELIEF WORK IN TEXAS
Christmas is a time of giving. That spirit took on new meaning for a group of Boy Scouts from DeKalb’s Troop 33 as they traveled to Galveston, Texas, to help the victims of Hurricane Ike.
Leaving Dec. 26, five Scouts and two leaders traveled more than 1,200 miles to Galveston.
Based at Galveston’s Church of the Living God, the Scouts spent the first part of their week helping to prepare hundreds of meals. The rest of their time was spent helping to rehabilitate flood-damaged homes.
Scouts worked in the kitchen, supervised by staff cooks. They chopped vegetables, scrubbed pots and pans, swept and mopped floors, and helped distribute carry-out meals.
As the week progressed, other volunteers arrived to take over kitchen duties, which allowed the Scouts to work in the community on flood-damaged homes.
Their first project was a two-story house that sustained 13 feet of flooding. The first floor was under water, with the second floor three feet under water. The owners are an elderly couple. The wife is a retired teacher and her husband a World War II veteran with Alzheimer’s disease.
The second project was a one-story house that sustained six feet of water in the interior of the home. The owner is a woman living on a Social Security disability pension. Her next-door neighbor’s house was completely destroyed by the storm.
These victims of Hurricane Ike lost everything in the storm, except their faith, their hope and their dignity. Meeting these people allowed the boys to associate the faces of real people with the severe destruction they saw in Galveston.
Scouts wore E-95 filtration masks while working in the toxic mold-infested environment. They primarily worked in the gutting process, which involved unskilled labor. Nails had to be pulled, floorboards taken up, drywall taken down, bathroom fixtures removed, linoleum chipped away and all debris removed from the interior. There was no electricity or plumbing available. All work was conducted during daylight hours and travel to a nearby gas station was necessary for bathroom breaks. The boys remained focused on their assigned tasks and worked hard throughout the week.
Hurricane Ike has been dubbed the “silent storm” due to the limited media coverage that followed it. The nation’s attention was quickly diverted from hurricane damage to the presidential election and the looming economic crisis.
Ike’s name is actually descriptive of its power. Integrated kinetic energy is a measurement of the storm surge’s destructive potential in hurricanes. Hurricane Ike had the highest IKE level of any Atlantic storm in history. In size, Ike was more than 420 miles across.
Ike’s storm surge flooded Galveston much like New Orleans was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. More than 70 percent of all homes in Galveston were rendered uninhabitable due to storm surge floodwaters.
Community service is a major part of the Scouting program. These Scouts experienced a lesson in citizenship that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Troop 33 plans to return to Galveston in March. There is still great need and much work to do.