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Camp life

Louise and Richard Machen. God bless them. It is their yard which has turned into a emergency camp for 60. They are the couple who responded to God's call to help those in need down here. My tent in blue and gold, second from left. The Hilltop Rescue and Relief (HRR) activities have a very interesting start. As I understand it, Robert Machen from the Churches of Christ in California conceived HRR as a non-profit organization to handle future California earthquake rescue efforts. Then along came hurricane Katrina and destroyed Roberts old neighborhood of Slidell, LA. His folks Richard and Louise offered to use the land surrounding their house as a base camp for volunteers. Word quickly got around, especially via the internet web site, attracting many volunteers like me. If you are interested in volunteering, go to the web page above and fill out the form, or contact me. The map to Hilltop is shown here - the circled area is the Machen's property now turned into a volunteer camp! Hilltop Rescue and Relief is located at: 301 Gause Rd. (US-190) Slidell, LA 70460 Field Volunteers - Daily Schedule 7:00 - 7:45 am: Wake up, eat breakfast 7:45 - 8:00 am: Morning reflection, work review 8:00 - 8:15 am: Load and go 8:15 - 12:00 pm: Field work 12:00 - 1:00 pm: Lunch in field 1:00 - 5:00 pm: Field work 5:00 - 6:00 pm: Return to Op Center, clean-up 6:00 - 7:00 pm: Dinner 7:00 - 7:30 pm: Evening meeting, review, reflection Volunteers need to bring: work gloves, rubber gloves, R95 minimum face masks, rubber boots for mucking and/or steel toe boots for tree removal, dew rags, safety glasses, camera, note paper & pencil. Meals are provided as well as washers and driers for laundry. You will be put up in either a tent camper, or other vehicle available. You may end up sharing space with others. I have a 10x10 tent to myself, which is nice. The camp can handle up to 60 volunteers at one time. Teams in field are divided into house mucking or tree removal. Mucking involves removal of destroyed furniture, cabinets, dry wall, appliances, carpet, flooring. Debris is moved to street side. Muck, the mud and water, is removed with shovels and brooms. Clorox and water (50/50) is used as a cleaner. Mucking mostly done in Slidell, but now seeing more work coming from New Orleans. In some homes the water level reached fifteen feet. One two story house had two feet of water in the attic. The work is hard and includes a lot of lifting, but it is extremely rewarding! There are also volunteer opportunities in supporting field activities including cooking, laundry, etc. The camp is pretty much self sufficient with a shop, mess hall, fork lifts, cat, trailers, kitchen/cooks, laundry, showers and heads. Much of the plumbing, electrical, buildings and roads have been done by the volunteers. 41 volunteers in camp at present. Many have interesting stories; students, psychatrist here from Maine on his motorcycle, church group from Virginia, folks from NY, NJ, OH, TN, MN, LA, FL, and many more. Friendships are made very quickly here. There is a lot of joy and comaraderie amongst the volunteers. Becky on her last day. No Becky, say it ain't so! Anita and Denise chowing down. Corky and family in the background. And my personal favorite, on the right in bald, Doc. Doc is a psychatrist who drove all the way down from Maine on a motorcycle enroute to Costa Rica. He has established himself as the world's foremost authority on the repair of chain saws! Nick watches on. A close second is Vicki Green, our volunteer coordinator, statistician, organizer, administrator, and empathizer. God bless you Vicki! In a tie for second is Corky, our task master, boss, drill sergeant, and good friend. He works long, hard hours doing just about everything including making the decisions on which houses to muck, which trees to cut, and which victims need support and help. God bless you and your family Corky! In another tie for second is Jesse, left, a great, hard- working guy from northern Mississippi, who has spent alot of time helping out down here. Took me an hour to crack Jesse's accent! Jesse is standing with George Rios and local guy who has also helped alot. Richard Machen, home owner, center, checking out the new warehouse built to house furniture and appliances when rebuilding starts. Bart, on right, did alot of work in the warehouse. Thom and I cut a few boards together! Thom had a group of 18 folks down from Virginia. Clayton is on the right while Rodney and Bart are in the rear. Rather elaborate entrance to mess hall. Note the unique flag holder and stained glass windows! We had to clear an area to add drainage where the semis will pull into the warehouse area. Note the Bobcats in use; we had several and used them all the time both in camp and in the field
Jason maneuvers the Cat around like a toy truck
A lot of volunteers live in donated or loaned campers or RVs.
This shop is dedicated to chain saw repair and sharpening. This is "Doc's Shop".
Anyone for a bite to eat? Load & go! Shovels, rakes, brooms, you name it... We loaded our trailer up for my first day mucking. Fred helping hitch up to the loaned conversion van! Richard Machen on right with two volunteers, Thom, left and Tipper, rear, loading up for the day's work. Work can be fun! Katie on the left and Stephanie on the right are sisters. Erica is in the middle. Wonderful and hard working gals! Good looking guy (Mark) with chain saw, eat your hearts out gals! Jesse and I became good friends. Jesse is the one with the Northern Mississippi accent. A very fine man with a good sense of humor! "Big John" carved this monster bench from a single trunk with his chain saw over a few lunch breaks in camp! The tree was 100 years old. Roger and Julie made a powerful husband and wife clean-up team!
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