Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Updates on our trip to Margaretville for flood cleanup--yes you can come!

 To try to save everyone from contacting me separately...
  • We will decide van departure times today at the 5:30 BonaResponds meeting in Murphy (aud).  Best guess is one van will leave on Thursday night (9:30?) and a second van 5:00pm on Friday. 
  • it is unfortunate but yes we do have to be back on Sunday.  HOWEVER, if you want to stay longer, we will help arrange places for you to stay and tools..
  • We do need drivers.  You must be PREAPPROVED by SBU, so please let us know ASAP if you are willing to drive.
  • We will be staying with the Catskill Mountain Christian Center in Margaretville.
  • Most of the work will be mudding out houses.  
  • Thanks to generous donations in the past, we purchased two sump pumps (our other ones were destroyed in Gowanda).  One is a gas powered pump that can pump 16 gallons per minute. 
  • BonaResponds' stars Larry and Bonnie will be in Margaretville by this evening to scout jobs etc.
    They also took about 20-25 gallons of bleach.  Much of this was left over from the floods in Olean area last year. And our new LARGE pump.
 Took part in this morning's NY VOAD meeting.   Some highlights

  • Best description of what it is like is that "it is just like Gowanda in 2009 but it is town after town of the same".
  • Many groups coming together to provide food and water and cleaning supplies, but difficult as needs are widely spread and many stores are closed due to their own flooding.
  • Be sure to have those affected file with FEMA.The Red Cross will likely be getting us cots, but I can not guarantee it yet.  We do have a place to stay in Margaretville, NY.  The area was hit especially hard and in the center of several towns that need help.
  • The Mennonite Disaster Response crew will also be in the area!  They are very very good. :)
here is a map:

View Larger Map

Special requests: laundry detergent, diapers (baby and adult), and baby food.  The grocery store (and many other stores in area) were flooded.  You can drop off these items at 231 Murphy on the SBU campus or at the Allegany Park and Shop (24 N 1st Allegany NY) (our typical Haiti collection spots).

We are open to all who want to help.  Here is a sign up form.  You will also have to sign this waiver form.

Here is a video of recovery efforts in the area:

Here is one during the flood which gives some idea of how high it was (16 feet of water!) Wow:

I will end with two things:

1.  There is a clear need for assistance.  You can and will help people and have a great time.
2. Imagine if you were flooded out.  Or your parents.  Or your grandparents.  Wouldn't you want someone to help.

Open to All.  See for more.

What to bring?  Space in vans may be tight, this is not an exhaustive list, but here are some recommendations:

  1. A good attitude--by far the most important.  We want hard working and flexible people who want to help.  It will be fun even though it won't go as planned.
  2. Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, workboots (ideally steel toed).
  3. Gloves--leather is best IMO
  4. Sun glasses/safety goggles
  5. Sleeping bag (pillow if you want one--yoga block works great and is smaller)
  6. Flashlight
  7. Phone charger
  8. Digital camera, charger
  9. Towel
  10. Toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
  11. Water bottle
  12. Granola bars etc for drive

You can meet us there!  By all means. 
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Monday, August 29, 2011

BonaResponds Irene Response

Yes we are helping....we have at least 2 vans that are going.

Work will be a mix of mucking out homes and tree removal.   MUST say the actual counts etc are still very uncertain, but it looks like the work will be present for months.  We will be updating as the week goes on but we are going somewhere!  Sign up now:

Conference call with NY VOAD
* last night 78 Red Cross Shelters...many closing as needs wane
* heard from groups in NYC, Long Island etc...

FEMA is sending 500 paid employees/contractors.  

Good source for flood details:

Notice Board Announcement

BonaResponds meeting this Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Murphy Auditorium. Purpose of the meeting is to introduce BonaResponds and to determine leadership structure. With many local projects, school collections, disaster responses, service trips, and our continued Haiti efforts pressing our time, we need many leaders and many people to help (Many hands make light work). We really need you to be there :) It will be short (out by 6pm).

ALSO while Hurricane Irene was less severe than feared, it has caused significant flooding and destruction in many parts of the Northeast and Mid Atlantic. We have received a couple of work requests and there is a VERY high probability of trip THIS coming weekend to help.   Location to be determined based on need. Watch (follow us on twitter @BonaResponds) for updates as the week goes on. We'd love to have you help!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Almost 600,000 Haitans are still living in tents

Wave of Illegal, Senseless and Violent Evictions Swells in Port-au-Prince | Truthout:

"The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported August 19, 2011 that there are about 594,800 people living in about 1000 displacement camps in Haiti. Most want to leave but have nowhere to go. Nearly 8000 people have been evicted in the last three months. Their report concludes by saying “With nearly 600,000 internally displaced persons still in camps, the scale of Haiti’s homeless problem remains daunting.”"

and then making it more personal:

"Mathias O is 34 years old. He is one of about 600,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He lives with his wife and her 2 year old under a homemade shelter made out of several tarps. They sleep on the rocky ground inside. The side tarp walls are reinforced by pieces of cardboard boxes taped together. Candles provide the only inside light at night. There is no running water. No electricity. They live near a canal and suffer from lots of mosquitoes. There are hundreds of families living in tents beside him. This is the third tent community he has lived in since the earthquake."

How can you help?  We are still collecting and shipping school supplies, soccer balls, small toys for children, musical instruments, and carpentry tools to multiple groups in Haiti.  Also you can help send a student to school in

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Canadian Tornado

Gage pointed this one out.  Only about 5 hours from us.  mmm...With school starting is it doable?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A new podcast! HaitianHappenings Cofounded by HaitiScholarships and BonaResponds!

HaitianHappenings Podcast:
 Welcome to the BRAND NEW HaitianHappenings podcast. It is brought to you by HaitiScholarships ( and BonaResponds ( (paid for by an anonymous outside donor so your donations were not used).   
The purpose of the podcast is to give people a sense of what is happening in Haiti and to be able top follow up on their donations to see how they are helping Haitians. 
We will try to do a different podcast weekly (maybe more, maybe less) depending on time and interest. 

Kicking off the podcasts will be today's interview with Jean Kendy Estimphil of Leogane Haiti. I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Kendy last year in Haiti and he has helped both BonaResponds and HaitiScholarships immensely both in translation, being our person on the ground for distribution of supplies (the link is a set of pictures)/
Listen to the interview here

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alison Thompson: WARNING: This Message Could Save Your Own Life

Alison Thompson: WARNING: This Message Could Save Your Own Life:

Ok, so it may not save you. Her logic?

"...In Haiti where I work, most of the volunteers arrive and lose weight, get a suntan, meet hundreds of new friends, help save lives and some even fall in love. My intent is to get everyone out of therapy and out helping others. You soon forget about your own mind-pounding problems and realize that yours aren't so bad after all. "

Which is definitely true, but also sets you up for sadness when you leave Haiti (or wherever).

But that said, it is a great article on spontaneous volunteering that reminds us all that we can help. My favorite line (ok, maybe second favorite after the stripper comment;) ) was Allison speaking about her time at Ground Zero after 911:

" During those days, Fema (google them) kept visiting our little makeshift first aid station trying to shut us down. They would declare it was time for the government professionals to take over, but on their 3rd visit to us something very unique happened. The Fema agent gave us his usual spiel about sending the volunteers out of ground zero, but then he covered his badge and proclaimed, "please stay, we really need your help." This one sentence, less than a Twitter feed, helped define the next ten years of my life as I set out on volunteer adventures all over the world. Why? Because I knew I was needed even when the large aid groups got on TV told me I wasn't."

Which has been our experience again and again after disasters.

It also has a nice conclusion:

"Volunteering doesn't have to be overseas. Our country is struggling with so many people out of work. Its time to ask, 'how can I help?'"

One way to help is to come help BonaResponds! We do things every weekend and have 7 wheel chair ramps, 4 roofing jobs, a drywall job, and an addition planned locally not to mention work on local trails, collections for schools, and continued efforts to help in Haiti. Oh and planned trips to Buffalo NY, Camden NJ, and Tuscaloosa AL.