7/17/2013 9:19:00 AM Dewey-Humboldt residents work to clean up Yarnell properties
Dewey-Humboldt residents clean one of three lots of debris left from the Yarnell Hill Fire this past Saturday. One property owner asked if they could salvage the Mexican bricks she used on her porch, so the volunteers gathered and stacked them in piles. None of the three property owners had insurance.
‘Locals helping locals’ recover
The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group is made up of "locals helping locals" with a steering committee of five members and several sub-committees to help in specific areas such as finances, housing, cleanup, and distribution.
The volunteers coordinate those needing help with those offering everything from food to labor. The biggest issue is finding the people in Yarnell who need help, said assistant coordinator Trish Edwards.
"We've got more volunteers coming in than those letting us know they need help. We've had to turn people away," she said. "Some of the properties are so destroyed, people aren't coming up here; they are going to temporary shelters somewhere else."
Some of the volunteers bring just themselves, others come with shovels and heavy equipment. Edwards said some want to help by adopting a home or a family to help financially and with manual labor.
A Boy Scout troop bagged and delivered sand bags this past Saturday. Edwards said the town received some rain on Monday and residents had an opportunity to see how the water flowed on their property.
For anyone wanting to volunteer in Yarnell, it's best to call ahead, she said. The phone number for the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group does not yet have a voice message set up. Those interested in helping out can call 602-663-3723 for more information.
The call for a work crew went out this past week and 18 people from Dewey-Humboldt showed up Saturday to help Yarnell residents who lost their homes in the Yarnell Hill Fire.
D-H Mayor Terry Nolan contacted the Individual Assistance Service Center, and through them was put in touch with Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, local residents helping each other. This group connected Nolan with three people who lost their homes and needed help cleaning up debris. None of the property owners had insurance.
In addition to the work crew, Earth Resources donated a mini-excavator and a dump truck. Jerry Piper brought a backhoe and loader.
"We were able to load the melted metal and brush, as well as pile up the ash and construction material in separate piles to be removed later by the county, as it was determined hazardous material," Nolan said. "The people we helped were very receptive and appreciative of what we did."
Randy Watson, equipment operator with Earth Resources, and his wife, Mitzi, were part of the D-H group.
"It was heartbreaking more than anything, to see people who lost everything they had," Watson said. "It kind of takes you back a little bit and makes you appreciate what you have."
He ran the machinery and said his wife helped with general cleanup. She spoke with an elderly man who was standing in the middle of what used to be his home.
"He was crying. They didn't have insurance," Watson said.
Bill Rummer, justice of the peace in Mayer, and his wife, Pat, also joined the crew, leaving Dewey-Humboldt at 6 a.m. and working steadily from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The three homeowners were present during the work, and one wanted the volunteers to help salvage some Mexican tiles from the burned porch.
"We took them up one by one and piled them up for her," he said. "The fire was very hot. About the only thing left was the metal from the roof - if they had a metal roof - and just the frame of the manufactured homes. Everything else was white ash. We worked with shovels and rakes. It was hard work for an old man liked me."
Rummer said each of the homeowners said, had they cleaned up their properties with a commercial company, it would have cost each of them $17,000. All three said they would rebuild.
Nolan said the volunteers wore T-shirts that read "Dewey-Humboldt Supports Yarnell." In addition, he said he's looking for someone able to disassemble and haul a doublewide mobile home located in Phoenix to donate to Yarnell.