Squalling winds from Hurricane Irma left many Clearwater offices, homes and streets buried under a haphazard mosaic of fallen trees, branches and leaves. One VM team focused on the most critical needs, such as the really, really BIG trees, collapsed everywhere, indiscriminately and ingloriously, absolutely no match for Irma’s stormy gales.
With chainsaws in hand and backhoes close behind, these VMs deployed into downtown and surrounding neighborhoods after Irma, removing the largest behemoths. Teams of VMs were dispatched to one of the hardest-hit areas, North Greenwood, to: first, survey the area, and then to immediately begin work clearing fallen trees off roofs and roads, giving priority to precariously positioned trees.
As part of their Hurricane Irma relief, the VMs established a telephone Hotline where those in need could contact and enlist the services of a VM team. This Hotline triaged nearly 170 calls, handing out a “Disaster Relief Work Order” to VMs reporting in to a command post on Fort Harrison Avenue. This “order” described the task called in, required tools and the number of volunteers needed for the job.
VMs went throughout Pinellas County clearing debris in yards and removing Irma wreckage, large and small, which had been strewn about. In coordination with those manning the Hotline, they mapped out and prioritized the largest fallen trees throughout Clearwater, the removal allowing many residents to have their fallen power lines fixed immediately after. From the start of their tree cleanup, this team dispatched 282 large trees around Clearwater.
One Clearwater resident, Dennis Green, wrote the VMs a thank-you card: “I came back to my property today and two big trees had fallen across the driveway. Three of your volunteers removed the trees to the parkway. Unbelievable help where needed the most.”