Sept. 4, 2006

One year after Katrina, DC still helping

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Since Katrina hit the shores a year ago last Tuesday, significant progress has been made, but volunteers say there is still a lot of work to be done.

Volunteers from the community began week-long trips to Mississippi in February with the Minnesota Katrina Relief Effort and the trips continue.

“There has been remarkable cleanup since then, but now the real need is in rebuilding,” said volunteer coordinator Al Nagel.

Much of the debris and clean-up has taken place, but there is still much to be done, according to Nagel.

The town is now in the rebuilding process and volunteers are helping by drywalling, painting, and roofing, Nagel said.

The populations are coming back, businesses are opening, and much of the cleanup has taken place, “but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Nagel said.

Even after a year, local volunteers are still eager to go to the Gulf Coast region to help with the relief effort.

For those who have been down there before, things are hugely different from when they first went, Nagel explained.

But volunteers who have gone for the first time wonder if anything had been done yet, according to Nagel.

Residents on the coast are frustrated with the amount of support they have received from the government, though they are grateful for the churches and the volunteers, Nagel said.

Katrina is still attracting volunteers.

Camp Katrina, based out of Waveland, Miss., is booked as far as room and board for volunteers through October, according to Nagel.

“People haven’t forgotten about them,” he said.

Nagel receives calls frequently from volunteers ready to go down come this winter.

“The community just keeps giving,” he said.

In January, Nagel and the relief effort will do a “big push” again for another 10-day volunteer effort four weeks in a row.

The group is also planning another fundraiser similar to a picnic-in-a-park including a meal and music in hopes of getting the community involved again.

“It’s a huge job and it’s not over yet,” he said.

Local volunteers help with recent tornadoes

After the tornadoes ripped through South-Central Minnesota Aug. 24, Al Nagel along with 12 other local volunteers headed south with a Bobcat.

The crew stopped near Cleveland, Minn. and helped with the cleanup efforts for three leveled farms.

Together they spent two days picking up and burning debris from homes, barns and trees left behind by the tornadoes.

One gracious family who had lost their house, barn, woods and out buildings, told the gang to help someone that needed it more than they did.

“I think you qualify,” Nagel replied to the family.

If it weren’t for such short notice, Nagel would’ve had many more volunteers, he said.

“Our community is so giving,” he said.

The volunteers were even interviewed on KEYC Channel 12 out of Mankato Saturday while they were in Cleveland.

Rollie Severson, a retired construction business owner of Cokato, was one of the 12 volunteers to help with the cleanup.

He told the reporter, “Everybody is our neighbor and we’re supposed to help them.”

“God has given me the time to spend to help clean up, so I feel I can be used this way and I’m glad to do it,” he said.

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