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Archive for Sunday, July 18, 1993

VOLUNTEERS OUT IN FORCE FOR CLEANUP

July 18, 1993

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Despite the sticky heat, organizers of Saturday's flood cleanup said they had a good turnout of volunteers to assist flood victims in North Lawrence, East Lawrence and other spots in the city where foul weather has taken a toll recently.

The Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross worked in conjunction with city officials to coordinate the cleanup. Patricia Marvin, Lawrence recycling coordinator, said about 75 people showed up to donate their time helping others recover from the damage left by floodwaters.

``I thought we got a lot done,'' she said. ``It was nice to see everyone turn out.

``What I really found touching is that more people from North Lawrence showed up to help than identified themselves as needing help.''

Crews did a general cleanup through North Lawrence, collecting trash and tree limbs, which they either bundled for city pickup on Monday or threw in the city sanitation truck that accompanied them.

They also visited specific homes throughout the city whose owners had called Red Cross and asked for assistance. That work involved tasks such as ripping out carpet, moving furniture and helping clean up flooded basements.

Marvin said volunteers and residents in flood-ravaged areas all worked hard to get the city back to the condition it was in before July 9 tornadoes, high winds and rising water caused an estimated $2.7 million in damage in Douglas County.

``I think it was probably the pleasantest group of people I've ever been around,'' she said. ``If you ever want to meet nice people, go to these volunteer things. They were all wonderful.

``And I'll tell you something else, too: They have certainly worked their butts off over there in North Lawrence. I was stunned at how good that area looked, considering all the damage they had.''

Jo Byers, chapter manager of the Red Cross, said that although a lot was accomplished, there was still more work to do because floodwater had not completely receded in all areas.

``We just sort of did a walk-through of North Lawrence,'' she said. ``We did lots of branches and handed out cleaning kits and looked to see what shape people were in.

``There's still some things that need to be done, but nothing that can't be done in a day.''

Byers also commended the volunteers' performance, particularly because of the hot weather.

``It was a hot day, and it was uncomfortable, but the volunteers were great,'' she said. ``We had whole families turn out.

``I just really think it was a wonderful gesture for the people of Lawrence to do this.''

Byers said she would meet with representatives of other Douglas County United Way agencies on Monday to discuss how a $10,000 donation to the county's Red Cross chapter to assist flood victims could best be used. In a separate meeting, Byers will get together with other coordinators of Saturday's cleanup and discuss where future efforts need to be directed.

Although some individuals may still need help, Byers said she did not think it would be necessary to have another cleanup like the one on Saturday.

``There are some people with some other special needs, but it's nothing real major,'' she said. ``Of course, it wasn't that kind of flood where water comes rushing in and tears things up -- it was just steadily rising water.

``North Lawrence is looking pretty good. There are still some areas that need some work, and parts of it are still under water, so of course that can't be cleaned up until the water goes down.''

Ralph and Virginia Nelson, 241 Perry, said the volunteer workers were invaluable assistance to their neighbor, Martha Turner. They said although workers came by July 10 to cut down damaged branches in Turner's yard, they left the rubble all over the yard, even leaving large limbs blocking her driveway.

``The volunteers really did a good job,'' Ralph Nelson said. ``I talked to them when they were over there on the corner, and I told them she needed help. There was about 10 of them, and they jumped right in there and did it.

``For as hot as it was, they really worked like a bunch of dogs.''

Virginia Nelson said she also appreciated the volunteers' effort.

``They really made this neighborhood look a lot better,'' she said.

Some North Lawrence residents, however, are still concerned about the conditions that caused the flooding.

F.W. McGreevy, 401 Perry, said the volunteers did help the neighborhood, but he thought the issue that should be addressed was flooding and road repair along North Second Street.

``I think the biggest problem is that underpass flooding,'' he said. ``That's what we need to fix now.''

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