Volunteers tackle tornado cleanup


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s tough to imagine the devastation beyond the barricades that have shut down streets, like Haughey Avenue SW, in Wyoming.

Once Sunday night’s storm and EF-1 tornado passed and daylight broke Monday morning, resident Yeslin Hernandez got a look at the damage around her home.

Storm damage in Wyoming. (July 10, 2014)
(Storm damage in Wyoming. July 10, 2014)

“It’s really heartbreaking to see. We just moved here — haven’t even been here for a year,” Hernandez said.

The next question for Hernandez and many others was where to begin to pick up the pieces.

“We thought we were going to have to pay to get all the trees taken out, ’cause insurance would pay for that,” Hernandez said.

Enter Team Rubicon.

Part of a nationwide group of volunteers, Team Rubicon’s mission is to come into an area soon after a disaster, pick up the mess and move on. Many of the volunteers are retired military members or first responders.

Several in the group that worked to clear Haughey Street Thursday are employees of the 54th Street Home Depot.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand how devastating this tornado was,” says Paige Troyer, the leader of Rubicon’s Team Home Depot.

The Home Depot Foundation sponsors the group.

The volunteers come in with a focus and clean up with precision. They don’t stop for small talk — or a TV interview.

“We’re going to be here as a team. We’re going to be here the rest of this week and next week,” Troyer said as she carried a pile of brush to the curb. “It’s overwhelming for the homeowners. But if you come in with 10 to 12 people, you can make light work.”

While it may not be obvious in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, the teams know they have made a difference for those who took the brunt of the storm.

“Some are distraught. Some are very quiet. Some just don’t know even where to begin,” Troyer said. “But they’re all grateful in their own way.”

If your in need of Team Rubicon’s Services, you can pay a visit to the Home Depot located at 257 54th Street SW in Wyoming.

To donate to or join Team Rubicon, you can visit its website.

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Inside woodtv.com:

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