Friday, February 29, 2008

Very Good Day


What a good day!

We really kept busy today and there was lots of work and the right tools so all got quite a bit done in Arkansas and in Pearlington. Jerry said their morning was great, but afternoon was spent on finding right tools and errands.

Today started for us here in Pearlington on the brisk side as there was a frost overnight. The main job today was to be taking down a tent from the Dupont site in Del Isle and taking back the tarp and all of the following and supports to camp.

But since the job would take many people and the bus was late, we decided to squeeze a paint job in. And so, in less than an hour, 4 rooms in two houses were primed. By then the bus made it back to camp.

Then we went to the Tent site and proceeded to rip apart the flooring and load it onto a trailer. While it sounds easy, it was actually really hard work. And the volunteers were excellent. Indeed, it was nothing short of a beehive of activity for much of the day.

By 4:40 when we left we had definitely gotten much more work done on it than I had anticipated under even rosy forecasts.

In the evening meeting we also learned that the other teams that had gone out had equally impressive days with much dry walling getting done and $5000 of lumber and supplies being delivered to a home under construction.

And with that successful day, the week came that much closer to an end. I am always sad when a BonaResponds' trip nears completion. Unfortunately the week is about to end. I am sure we will be back. I am sure we will respond to other disasters and to other local needs, but I am still sad. I don't know why, but it happens every time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New pictures are online

Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor
Some more pictures are online here.

From Rich on the Importance of Volunteering

This was sent a few days ago, but was somehow lost in the shuffle. It is From Rich Bilodeau at Randy's Rangers in Pass Christian:

BonaResponds Spring Break Trip Reflection

February 25, 2008

A story of inspiration and the value of volunteer work

Yesterday we spent sometime moving wood, tools, and other resources to one of the sites where we are building a shed. The shed is for a family that moved to Mississippi about a year ago as survivors of a post Katrina New Orleans. They built a new home about 30 minutes driving distance from Randy’s Rangers, (one of the sites we are staying at while down here.) She and her children left their apartment in New Orleans a few days before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city. She had no idea that Hurricane Katrina would take everything she had. Since her and her four children’s displacement they lived in various places, one including a FEMA trailer for nine months. She said that the nine months spent living in the FEMA trailer was one of the most arduous experiences of her life. Now she is happy to have left New Orleans and has no desire to return, she loves her new home. Her children love that they can play in their own backyard. It is great to hear a story of success in an area that is still dominated by devastation.

Today we spent a good part of the day completing the floor of the Shed and we managed to raise two walls. The Children returned home from school and immediately came outside to spend time with us as we worked. A few of us played football and basketball with them in between working on the shed. It was great to spend time with them. Once it started getting dark we packed up and headed back to Randy’s (all 12 of us on the back of a utility trailer with no walls). It was an interesting trip needless to say, between the side trips of going circles in stony parking lot and ironically hitting every pot-hole on the road, Randy managed to make it more fun than it should have been. It was a comical site to see and experience, one I will never forget and one I must relive tomorrow.

Upon returning to camp Jerry and I took sometime to check out the area around us and we got some great photos. Jerry brought me to the former site of a home that is now marked by a staircase leading to an empty foundation and a realty sign out front (an all too common site to see down here). However, this place was different than the others. It was marked by a hand painted sign leaned against the massive, still standing, dead tree. The sign read “Lie down and bleed for a while, then get up and fight.” The seen was incredibly surreal and somewhat disturbing. While I stood there it evoked in me the sense of loss and suffering these people have and continue to experience that most of us cannot begin to understand or relate to. While a grim reminder of all that is still wrong here, it also served as a reminder to all that is yet to be accomplished. Our country has lied down and bled, but it is the people who comprise BonaResponds that stand up and continue the fight over two years after Katrina!

Half day

Today was sort of a rest day for all of our teams. The two Mississippi sites worked a half day (painting, drywalling, and even some electrical work) while the Arkansas team took the day off to rest up from the hard work they have been putting in.

I would have more updates, but this tent is freezing (it is 35 degrees out and the tent it not heated) and I really want to go get into a sleeping bag to warm up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Greetings from Arkansas

February 26,

When we arrived in Gassville, AR last Saturday; we were excited yet nervous about what the week ahead would bring. Now just three days later we have already become comfortable with our surroundings and made new friends here at Hands On as well as in the community. The town of Gassville has a population of just 1,706; that is several hundred less than the small tight knit community at St. Bonaventure. We are all familiar with the Bona-Bubble; the comfort, friends and great community. This town has those same characteristics associated with the Bona-Bubble.

Our day started where Monday left off; raking debris from the yard of damaged homes. Tyler and Mike were later asked to assist a group of men hanging siding on a house down the street. The rest of our group was deployed to a home that had sustained sever damage to the surrounding trees as well as some structural damage to the home. Tim went and picked Tyler and Mike up on his way to delivering lunch to the crew at the tree clearing site. After lunch all of the members of Hands On and BonaResponds worked together clearing trees and gathering debris from the yard. Several of us donned the chainsaw attire and learned the art of cutting down trees. Mike fit the part with his red flannel button down, jeans, and work boots.

Although our accommodations can not be complained about; but we found an escape. One of the many great people that we have meet this week set us up with a cabin on the White River; this allowed us to relax on our day off.

Ya’ll come back now! Ya Hear.

P.S. We saw Lurch, check him out:

Anne's post from Randy's Rangers in Pass Christina

From Anne Dlugosz:
Pass Christian, Mississippi: This trip has been quite amusing so far. It may be due to the fact that we are Randy’s last group and have the run of the campsite, it could be just Randy himself, or it might be that all of us together is, well, a handful. I can’t think of any better of a way to appreciate the fragility of life than to ride in the trailer bed with Randy driving the truck. Anyway, we’ve been working outside, and the weather is great (tomorrow it will probably storm since I said that).

We’ve just started the addition to Kimball’s Seafood Restaurant, which was apparently a landmark business in Pass Christian. By helping this family business rebuild, we’re hoping it will make this town look just a little more like it used to. We can’t fix every place all at once, but we can restore things bit by bit.

We’re also building a shed for a family that lost almost everything in the storm. Today we got the floor and walls down, and we were rewarded with chocolate cake and smiles. According to one of the kids in the family, as soon as the shed is built, their daddy is going to let them camp out in it. I’m going to make an assumption here and guess that that’s motivation for all of us. This has been a promising start, and I’m fairly confident the rest of the week will be just as fun and heartening.

Portfolio and diversification

While most of the readers of this blog know me mainly as the leader of BonaResponds, my real job is a finance professor, so I guess it should not come as a surprise that when I got stuck today trying to describe the day, I fell back on finance to explain it.

In finance we often speak of the importance of diversification within your portfolio. That way if some asset does poorly, it will be offset by some assets that does well.

With that in mind I will say the day was not a loss. There were some teams (in Arkansas, in Pass Christian, and even a couple of teams here in Pearlington) that did very well. The gains made by this crews off set the less than stellar days the teams associated with me had.

What went wrong? It was not the lack of desire, motivation, or effort, but rather something that was out of the hands of the volunteers (both literally and figuratively): tools.

The lack of tools and supplies was very apparent from the start. The roll-out was delayed as Rick looked for supplies. Two teams were dropped at sites without paint, brushes, or tools of any kind. When supplies arrived, the supplies were not enough to allow all to work at once. This continued for the entire morning until a few of us could get back from buying nearly $300 of supplies that were donated from BonaResponds.

But even then the work was slow-going, so in spite of a strong rally at the close of the day (priming walls got done in several rooms), both teams down in the dumps as we
arrived back in camp.

Once there, news of good days at other sites in Pearlington lifted our overall tally. And when news from Arkansas and Pass Christian arrived, we were able to see that overall BonaResponds did a great deal of good today. Overall we had cut trees, cleaned yards, hung drywall, sanded drywall, primed, textured, and even stopped to cheer some residents we had helped on past trips.

Thus, proving that once again that finance is correct and it really is the overall portfolio performance, and not that of a single asset, that serves as the correct measure of performance. By this broader measure, the performance of BonaResponds was very good indeed!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Pictures

Many more pictures from Pearlington.

After Dinner Talk

Pearlington: Tonight the Pearlington group went out to eat to Turtle Landing in Pearlington. While the food was good, the real highlight of the night was after dinner: Connie (a local resident who rode out the storm on her roof) and Glen (the leader of One house at a time) spoke for nearly an hour on storm and on the recovery effort.

Some of the highlights:

* The storm was unreal. 30 feet of water in most places. Houses splitting apart. Survival was close to impossible. Trees falling. Pure chaos.

* The hours after the storm were similarly harrowing with water ever where. Connie and her husband survived in a church.

* The days after the storm were drawn out episodes of trying to find friends, homes, and streets. It was terrifying.

* Many residents have had a long hard battle to recover. Some have not and have given up and committed suicide.

* Volunteering down here not only helps, but improves the morale of the residents.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Greetings from Gassville Arkansas

Twas the 25th day of the 2nd month in the 2008th
year. Our illustrious day began with a thin blanket of
fog and a crisp chill upon our ears. Surprisingly
enough it all began only a smidgen behind schedule. Tim
our swashbuckling, industrious leader delayed our
arrival due to his addiction of tobacco-filled rods. Upon
our arrival at headquarters we were immediately
dispatched to a barren area of town. With shovels and rakes in
hand we all began clearing gargantuan piles of
detritus. Soon after, we realized our manual labor was no
match for these astounding piles. At this point we began
tediously raking another debris encompassed field.
After hours of back wrenching work, we started a fun
filled game of Caber Tossing. (Stay tuned for video
footage) Tyler Drysdale turned out to be the brawniest
Scottish Warrior of all. From here we went back to our
Riverside bungalow to satisfy our ravenous stomachs.
After our delectable hamburgers and Ozarka water we headed
to another dismantled lawn. At this desolate location
we all (for the most part) began vigorously raking
and shoveling asphalt-sand bonded roofing material (aka
shingles, not the disease!) Throughout our
rip-roaring afternoon we shared endless stories and farcical
jokes. We wrapped up our day with a scrumptious dinner
made up of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and gravy.
It’s safe to say that collectively we at BonaResponds
Arkansas know how to have a boisterous and monumental
time. Happy blogging to all, and to all a good night!

BonaResponds Arkansas, over and out. "

FAST Noontime update

From Jared at lunch: It is really cold. We had to change plans because of the weather. Now cleaning lawns etc. The temperature itself is not that bad, but the combo of wind and rain was just too much. The new job is good however and the work is keeping us warm.

From Jerry: Working on Kimballs (a seafood restaurant in Pass Christian). No problems. Randy is yelling, but that is normal.

Sort of slow morning. Lack of tools really slowed us. Had 5 teams out (2 insulation, 2 sanding drywall--although at times because of lack of tools each of the sanding teams also were on road clean up--which is an unwanted, but greatly appreciated job that really does make the area look better.
* more people in camp--both from BonaResponds (as Eric, Bridgett, Kristina, and Megan arrived) and a couple of other groups (Philadelphia area and one from MD.)

once groups got right tools and got going quite a bit done. Hopefully the afternoon will be as good!

More Pictures are up

More pictures are online from Pearlington.

Assembly Line

Assembly Line
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
One of our crews worked on cleaning up a yard today. It was a fairly small job in the whole scheme of things. The yard was a real mess (the contractors had left debris piles everywhere). Several large lumber piles had to be moved, sorted, and restacked. We did this largely via an assembly line of about 12 volunteers.

This assembly line got the work done pretty well and also got me thinking about how in many ways the recovery efforts following Katrina are also being carried out via an assembly line: wave after wave of volunteers work for a while, before handing off the work to those next in line.

This week it is again our turn to do the work.

Update from Gassville

Ryan and Tyler, two of the BonaReponds' volunteers who are spending spring break in Gassville Arkansas helping the area recover, sent the following update on their work there. It is two days worth:
It was cold, foggy and 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. The bus filled with over 70 Bonaventure student-volunteers dropped us off at the Super 8 Motel in Louisville, Ky. We crashed to bed and then were set to get up in a few hours to make the eight-hour venture to Gassville, Ark. Seven of us piled into a Kia mini-van around noon and were off. The drive proved to be longer than anticipated, but when our destination finally came before us we knew why we were there. We were wondering where the damage from the tornados was and then there it was. A house to the right in ruin; another one with a roof missing; rubbage and pieces of buildings all around us
and trees ripped up from underneath. We arrived to our the church around 10 p.m., unpacked, relaxed and got some much-needed sleep from a long 20 hours of
and then for Day

Day 1: Sunday was our first work day in Gassville. We joined together with some volunteers from Hands on Disaster Response (HODR).

First off was cleaning up the wreckage from a church knocked down during the storm. It was tough to look at the rubbage there now and imagining what once stood there. We weren't the only ones volunteering there: a local nurse with her father and daughter and dozens of Hands on volunteers. Everyone there had the same mindset of helping all these unfortunate people out.

So many local residents helping out and listening to the honks from cars for their appreciation driving by showed that our effort was appreciated.

Next up after the morning was moving a couple's things out of their house they moved into just seven days before the storm hit. They had lived there for just seven days and now had to move their things into storage for the time being while their house, which was seriously damaged in the storm, was rebuilt.

Moving the couple's belongings out was a sad reminder of the damage done and the lives affected by this gruesome event. It was also a good reminder of how much our help is needed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Some new pictures

Some pictures are online now.

unfortunately they got repeated.

with or without video

It has taken over an hour to upload the video and frankly I am tired, so here it is without video:
Well we made it. What a long drive. From snow and ice to endless miles of driving, the trip was definitely a long drive but the days ahead will undoubtedly prove that the effort was worth it.

We left Allegany slightly after five PM on Friday and drove more or less straight through. In Louisville KY we left 7 volunteers off for a night’s sleep before they headed out to Gassville Alabama. They arrived safely and will be working with Hands on Disaster Response (HODR)

The rest of the crew arrived in Pass Christian MS at about four thirty in the afternoon. We stopped at first at Chris’. This is a house we had worked on in past trips. He and his family were living there and happy to see us.

We then went to Randys’ Rangers were Randy gave a great introduction to the trip.

Below is a video of the opening message to volunteers.

After that we left 11 volunteers and then went on to Pearlington. Pearlington is roughly midway between Pass Christian and New Orleans. That said, it is in reality miles from most places and very very remote.

To get to the camp entails a long drive on highway followed by a long drive on a narrow back road, followed by a turn down into an even smaller road.

But when we go here, safe and sound. It is remote by even our normal standards, but that is ok, it will give the team the opportunity to make an even larger impact and bond together better.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why we are in Pearlington's Elementary School

Like a Great Phoenix: "Many consider Pearlington to be the epicenter of Katrina’s destruction in Mississippi. The town was ripped apart by the ravages of the hurricane, flooding and some 37 tornadoes spawned devastating storm.

It seems the hardest hit by disasters are often those who can afford it the least. The town of Pearlington is no exception. The only building considered structurally sound in town was the Charles Murphy Elementary School [where we are staying]. It was here that its citizens converged to regroup and begin to put back the pieces of their shattered community."

Today the town has about 1000 residents or about 60% of the pre Katrina inhabitants.

Thanks to Emily for finding this!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What is the weather like?

Have had many people ask what the weather will like, so here is the latest ten day forecasts from

  1. Pearlington MS
  2. Pass Christian MS
  3. Gassville AR

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Short version for reporters or semi-interested non participants:

here is most of what we know:
The bulk of us will be working in Pearlington MS and Pass Christian MS. In Pearlington we will be working on many homes through the Pearlington Volunteer Center. In Pass Christian we will be working with Randy's Rangers on primarily the Whavers' house (this was the family we raised money for back at Christmas time) and Karl's house (the house that our crew roofed and did some dry wall work on last time.
A small crew will also be going to Gassville Arkansas to help HODR with tornado recovery.

we still have 2 spots was filled this afternoon.

things to remember

Pack as light as possible, but here are some guidelines:

Here is what Handson is suggesting or what we suggested in the past,and here.

(I would not recommend air mattresses unless going to Arkansas (and even there I might be tempted to go without or buy closer to locale), but sleeping bags are a must And PLEASE NO SUITCASES especially for anyone going in the minivan. Travel as light as possible. At all sites we will be able to do laundry and there will be places to buy more things.

also remember camera, gloves, flashlights, cell phone chargers etc.

Announcing BonaResponds ARKANSAS!

Since we have not yet heard back from sites in Alabama or Tennessee, we have opted to send a team of volunteers to Gassville Arkansas. We will be working with HODR.

The small team (6 people maximum) will be there to work with Bill Driscoll Jr., Becca, and other handson volunteers, but also to help serve as leaders and add some continuity to the site which is organizing many school and church groups that coe in for a day at a time.

So far this team is composed of Tim, Jared, Mike, and Tyler. One or two more will likely be added. (Any volunteers?) The disaster area is still very fresh and this is going to be a tough area.

here is a video on the area.

If you are going, please make sure you read this. It is much cooler there, so dress warmly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A few more seats became available!

As a result of a job interview, a few volunteers have decided to meet us in MS and as a result we have a few extra seats available.

Here is our notice board announcement:

BonaResponds Spring Break Trip has some room left!
Due to some changes in volunteer plans, we have room for up to 4 more volunteers! We will be taking a large bus and a minivan. So if you and some friends still want to go, it is not too late! Cost is $219.
Money and Form collection will take place today and tomorrow
Tuesday 10:30 to 3:30 Murphy 231
Wednesday 12:00-2:00 231 Murphy 2:00-3:30 Murphy 209
Additionally as a reminder, we will be updating the blog on the trip so all can see the work and keep up with the trip. See

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Associated Press: Repairs Start in Twister-Damaged South

The Associated Press: Repairs Start in Twister-Damaged South:
"'One of the great things about living in Alabama — and I say this after every major emergency we have — it truly is amazing to see what's happening out there with all the families in this state,' Riley said.

At least 29 people were injured in Prattville on Sunday, and Mayor Jim Byard said about 200 homes and 50 to 100 businesses were damaged. No deaths were reported"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

WIVB TV: News, Weather, Sports for Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and all of Western New York | Fundraiser Held for Man Who Saved Son from Fire

WIVB TV: News, Weather, Sports for Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and all of Western New York | Fundraiser Held for Man Who Saved Son from Fire:
"Literally put his own life in danger to save his toddler from a burning Southern Tier home. He paid the price with severe burns to his body. Saturday night, hundreds came out to support this Buffalo man. News 4's Rob Macko has more. It was a hero's welcome for 29-year-old Jesse Horbacz of Buffalo."
There is an article in today's Olean Times Herald as well. I could not find it on their site. (Which I know is shocking). Sort version he is out of the hospital and doing much better! The family is back living in the upstairs of the house we helped to renovate.

Map from SBU to Pearlington MS

Bob sent the following map.

Here is the Google version (which is about 3 miles

View Larger Map

Important Spring break trip update

Some fairly major changes, so please read.

MAJOR change of plans: The surprisingly large turnout of volunteers has forced us give up the idea of taking vans.

Instead we will be taking a 56 seat bus and a 7 seat mini-van for 63 total volunteers.

The cost of the trip was significantly higher as a result, but given the large number of drivers and vans that would have been needed, it was decided that this would be better decision.

IMPORTANT: WE WILL HONOR ALL PREVIOUS DEALS FOR PRICES AND FOR DRIVERS! So if you had signed up to drive, you now get to go without having to drive. We will be asking some of you to drive as we will be renting a few vans in either TN or MS or possibly Arkansas.

As we stated in our early meetings, the actual cost of the trip was substantially higher than the price that we charged. The difference was going to be made up from various fund raising activities. However, with the increased cost of the bus plus the larger number of people going, the cost is significantly higher than anticipated.

The last 36 hours have been a very hectic time of fund raising to help cover these additional costs without totally dipping in the BonaResponds account balance. After a request to the University to help pay the difference was not accepted, several very generous donors stepped forward. With the major assistance from Brother Ed who secured $1000 of student sponsorships from the Franciscan Center for Social Concern, a couple (both of whom are SBU alum but who asked to remain anonymous) that pledged $1250, and several other large donations (totaling $500) (plus several other possible donations), we will be able to maintain the large subsidies to all volunteers.

(Do me a favor, when you see Brother Ed or John Watson tell them THANK YOU!)

That said, we are asking anyone who would like to donate more to please consider it. The cost of the bus is about $3600 more than the vans would have been. This cost difference would have raised the amount BonaResponds was paying to nearly $8000 which is clearly not sustainable for multiple trips.

That said, in the "if it doesn't kill us, it will make us stronger" school of thought, this may push the issue of transportation to the forefront. My hope is that sooner or later we can purchase some vans or better a mini-bus such as this one. If anyone knows of a bus expert (or a large donor), please let us know. Or if you have a better idea!

Over the weekend we will be updating what to bring, but as a good working list, see what Handson is suggesting or what we suggested in the past. and here. (I would not recommend air mattresses, but sleeping bags are a must And PLEASE NO SUITCASES especially for anyone going in the minivan. Travel as light as possible. At all sites we will be able to do laundry and there will be places to buy more things.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Overwhelming volunteer response!

These are the best of times, these are the worst of times.

Well, we were hoping for about 40 volunteers and we have about 60. So we are really scrambling trying to find place and transport for all.

IF anyone will willingly take a bus, we can meet you there etc. The cost is actually cheaper if you go with a friend. You can go to Biloxi or Nashville (if you want to work only in TN).

It sure would help! Please at least consider it.


Greyhound Trips:
Depart 10:20 AM on Saturday 2/23/08 and arrive 3:55 PM on Sunday 2/24/08
Depart 8:30 PM on Friday 2/29/08 and arrive 5:30 AM Sunday 3/2/08
7 Day Advance Purchase: $158 each
Companion Discount (buy one, get one at 50% - requires 3 Day Advance Purchase): $456 for two

This one I am not 100% on. I THINK we will have people volunteering here, but they have not gotten back to me. I KNOW we will be in Pass Christian and Pearlington. I THINK we will be here and Gassville Arkansas.

Buffalo-Jackson TN
Depart 2:00 PM on Saturday 2/23/08 and arrive 8:40 AM on Sunday 2/24/08
Depart 3:25 PM on Friday 2/29/08 and arrive 12:20 PM Saturday 3/1/08
7 Day Advance Purchase: $138 each
Companion Discount (buy one, get one at 50% - requires 3 Day Advance Purchase): $396 for two
Standard Fare: $264

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

HODR is now active in Arkansas

We definitely have another option now. It is official, Hands On Disaster Response (the direct descendants of the original Hands on USA in Biloxi and our role model), is up and running in Gassville Arkansas. Read more about it here.

It sounds like a great project!

That said, I would still prefer helping in TN as it is much closer, but if it falls through at Union University, we will almost assuredly send a team here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Update on tornado situation

Some new information but not much.

Spoke with several people at Union University. We think we can help. But things are still happening so fast and on so many fronts no one is sure yet. I would say probably.

In addition, HODR is likely setting up somewhere in the area affected. It looks like in Arkansas which would add quite a few hours to our already long drive, so we may look to help in Tennessee instead, but again things are still very fluid.

Remember, one of the most important things to have when trying to help is patience and an open mind. It will work and we will get a lot done, but just not sure where or how yet.

Buffalo Update from LJ

Had another BR Buffalo Day meeting today. LJ, Mike Tribuzzi, and Christina Love (friend of LJ's) were there. We talked briefly, and then went out into the city.

Copied some 4/page fliers for Mar. 29th...went to Buffalo State College and spoke w/ the person in charge of Volunteer Services, in the Career Development Center: Laura Hill Rao (LHR), Coordinator, Volunteer and Service-Learning Center. Laura said that she would post the information on a link that they have for students of volunteer opportunities in the city. She also said that I (or we) could table in the Student Union before the 29th.

LHR also gave us a few great contacts at Niagara University, Daeman College, and Canisius College.

Then we went to the West Side Community Collaborative / West Side Neighborgood Housing Services, Inc. and spoke with Melissa M. Fratello there. She was happy to work with us and said she would announce the info at there next board meeting in order to gather some volunteers for the event. They are familiar with PUSH buffalo and have a similar mission.
Progress is being made for the BR Buffalo project! : ) Thanks for checking in!
-Laura Jean aka LJ

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hands On Disaster Response » USA: Southern US Tornado Assessment

Bill Driscoll (who many of you may know from Biloxi, Pass Christian, and Enterprise files the following report on

Hands On Disaster Response » USA: Southern US Tornado Assessment:
"We’re currently on the ground in Tennessee making an assessment of the tornado damage and evaluating the potential for a HODR micro-deployment.

According to FEMA’s initial situation report in Tennessee “it is estimated that there are 700 damaged homes; 606 were either destroyed or sustained major damage. There are 53 mobile homes that sustained major damage and 44 with moderate damage.” In Arkansas, “there are 114 businesses that are damaged statewide; 417 homes either sustained damage or were destroyed. Critical Infrastructure was impacted by the storms.”"
For those of you who do not know, Hands On Disaster Response is the model (or at least a large part of the model) on which BonaResponds is built.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

BonaResponds Buffalo (BIG Update)

From Laura Jean:

Hello BonaResponders! : )
Today I hosted my first meeting about the new BonaResponds Buffalo project. Very exciting. Shout out to Jim Mahar for inspiring me to be part of such an amazing organization. To briefly introduce myself, my name is Laura Jean Castelluzzo, yes I go by "Laura Jean", generally. ; ) Here's my web site: , that pretty much says it all. Okay, that was easy. Web sites are handy that way.
The meeting today took place at the Buffalo Wellness & Art Center, 640 Breckenridge St. in the heart of the Elmwood Village of Buffalo. It was a small but productive meeting. And then there were three... Dave Whalen, the President of the SBU Buffalo Alumni Chapter, Mindy Pilato, one of the VP's " ", and myself. I didn't realize it before setting the date for the meeting, but it turned out that the main purpose was for me (the leader of the BR Bflo project) to establish a relationship with the SBU Bflo alumni... as well as updating Dave and Mindy on what is set so far for March 29th... which is the following:
BonaResponds Buffalo Volunteer Day March 29th, 2008
9:30am Doors open for meeting at The Valley Center
People coming up from Olean will probably be showing up around 10am.
Work will begin at 10am. We will start wrapping up the work day around 3pm. After cleaning up, we'll head back to The Valley Center to have a celebration from 4-6pm with free food, music, and time to share about your experiences from the day. This event is alcohol and drug free (as I'm sure all BR events are). If you can not participate in the whole day, be there for as long as you can. We appreciate your presense for as much as you can give.
For the work day we will break up into groups, size depending on the site the group is going to, as some sites can use more people than others. We will be working with the following organizations:
- The Valley Center / The Valley Community Association, 93 Leddy St. Bflo NY 14210
- The Bob Lanier Center, 185 Lang Ave, Bflo NY 14210
- The Belle Center, 104 Maryland St. Bflo NY 14201
- PUSH Buffalo
- Buffalo Re-Use
Still waiting to hear back from Urban Roots , and Buffalo Blue Bicycle .

Also still open to more projects, but focusing more on getting volunteers at this point! Help us spread the word! : )
I don't have all the work details yet, but here's what I know... To quote Jim from yesterday, "One big project that we will be doing is a housing inventory/assessment for several areas in South Buffalo. This is being spearheaded by three council people, the Valley Center, and First Niagara who will be helping to sponsor the day." At the Bob Lanier Center, (where after school programs are held on the east side), Elaine Blyden (Executive Director) will have us doing renovations in the auditorium. That way the center will have another means of bringing in funds, by renting out the space. PUSH will have us painting a house, not sure where yet. Jack Norton (Program Development Executive Director) is coming up with some projects for us on the west side, possibly working w/ elderly or children?
Okay, that's more or less all I know about March 29th as of right now.
To continue about the meeting we had today... Dave Whalen and Mindy Pilato, are going to be responsible for getting info out to their lists of alumni in Buffalo. Dave says that he is going to make a flier, with all the info we have so far, and mail it to some key folks.. as well as sending out emails and making some phone calls. I, Laura Jean, will be responsible for getting the info to Dave and Mindy. All present agreed that it is a good idea to continue open communication with SBU buffalo alumni reps in order to keep alumni involved with BonaResponds... as well as doing our best to confirm dates for future events with alumni (specifically Dave Whalen) before posting events. - Speaking of which, heads up, we are in the process of planning our second BR Bflo event in May, on the Tuscarora Nation (Wheatfield, NY) at a community called Ehk-wheh-heh-weh. We will be finishing building a bathroom. Date tbd. -
Other than that... Lissa Piper, AC VISTA Director WNY Americorps, and Tiffany Turner, Hands on Greater Buffalo AC VISTA Coordinator WNY Americorps, are both on board. : ) Tiffany is the person who spearheaded the MLK Day of Service at The Bob Lanier Center.
Mike Tribuzzi, who has been previously involved with BR, and recently returned to Buffalo, is also on board. I had a phone meeting with him this evening, and we set a date for the next meeting (I know it's soon, but I'll be going out of town w/ BR to MS on Feb. 22 soooo). We will be meeting this Monday, Feb. 11, at noon. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss ways of recruiting volunteers, as well as other possible projects. At 1pm we will be going out to promote BR Buffalo... We intend to go to some high schools, and wherever else the wind takes us. Meeting place is to be determined. If interested in attending email by Sunday evening or call 716 465-7408 Monday morning. That's my contact info. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments about this or future events. The meeting on Monday afternoon is also for those of you who would like to come who were not able to this afternoon. Also, our intention is to spread the word by mouth and flier before the BR trip to the gulf, and after the trip to the gulf, more fliers, word of mouth, and press releases to the papers. Oh yeah, which leads me to the next order of business : Jim, who ever you were referring to that usually makes fliers, could you please see if she could email me a flier by 11:30am Monday? I'll em you seperately about that. If not we'll figure something else out.
Last but not least, my personal intention with this project is to have an event about every 6 weeks, give or take. So, if you have any ideas for future projects, give em to me! : )
Thanks for the opportunity to make a difference!
Laura Jean Castelluzzo, LMT
founder of Buffalo Wellness & Art Center
leader of 'BonaResponds Buffalo'
716 465-7408

Friday, February 08, 2008

Union University Recovery

Union University Recovery:
"At 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening, the Union University campus was devastated by serious tornadic activity, resulting in extensive damage to the facilities. Following a nearly five-hour emergency effort, all students -- including the 13 who were trapped in the fallen rubble -- were rescued. Fifty-one students were taken to the hospital, nine of whom suffered serious injury. By God’s providence, no lives were lost.

Seventeen buildings received some kind of damage. Approximately 40 percent of the dorms were destroyed, and another 40 percent were severely damaged. Additional damage has been observed in other academic and administrative buildings."
This is one of the first entries from Union University's recovery blog (as opposed to their emergency blog).

We heard from Union University

While it is still too early to say for sure whether we will be able to help or not, we did hear back from Union University today. They expressed their gratitude of our offer to help and will be stay in contact with them over the coming weeks.

What these means is that if we can get a few leaders, we may try to run three sites (Pearlington, Pass Christian, and Franklin TN.)

Please spread the word. We need vehicles, drivers, and volunteers.

In fact, if you can get yourself to any of the sites, we will lower the cost of being there to $60 (down from $100).

Stay tuned

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Buffalo Day March 29th

While it is a ways off, be sure to reserve March 29th. It is going to be a great day! Much work, new friends, old friends, helping others, free food, music. What more could you want?

We are working at several sites from the valley Center, to the Bob Lanier Center to PUSH to Buffalo Reuse to who nows what else.

There is work for all people with all types of skills. Get your class, your group, your friends, or even your enemies to come out and volunteer.

One big project that we will be doing is a housing inventory/assessment for several areas in South Buffalo. This is being spearheaded by three council people, the Valley Center, and First Niagara who will be helping to sponsor the day.

We will be meeting at Valley Center. Stay tuned for more details.

Transportation alternatives

Transportation is still a major issue and the largest part of our costs, so we are offering some various alternatives.

The $219 price for everything still stands.

In addition to this, several people (especially those who are meeting us from elsewhere in the country). The cost will be $100 for the food, supplies, and a shirt.

In addition, several people asked if they could fly or take a bus. The answer is yes. We can arrange for airport pickup at the Gulfport-Biloxi airport (or bus pickup-Greyhound costs about $149 from Buffalo to Biloxi, $118 to Jackson TN)--if we do work there, the cost may be lower (best guess is $199 total price).

We are investigating whether we can help

Watters Comlex
Originally uploaded by ctracy.
It is too early to say whether we will be able to help or not, but we are investigating what we may be able to do to help the areas affected by the tornadoes.

The most likely time for our assistance would be over spring break. Thus we might be running two trips (one to MS and one to either AL, KY, ARK, or TN) or maybe stopping on the way for a day or two of work.

If you can help with the planning or would like to suggest other ways to help, please email us at

HODR is also investigating whether they are going.

Here are some stories on the damage.

BonaResponds is looking to go help the areas affected by yesterday's storms. HODR is also investigating. We will likely be dropping off a van or two for at least a few days if we can make a difference.

Here is a very fast look around at some news sites:

Jackson Sun - - Jackson, TN:
"Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist said that 60 people were transported to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital due to injuries received in the tornado. He said that 50 people have been released.

Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris said that those who remain at the hospital are listed as follows: one person is in critical condition, seven people are in serious condition and one person is in guarded condition.

Harris said that sheriff's deputies and Madison County firefighters are still trying to reach some people in the outlying areas to make sure everyone is safe."
Tennessee college struck by tornado a third time | Reuters:
"Will Hayden, a 20-year-old biology student said: 'A bunch of us were outside watching the lightning. We've had 80 tornado watches and nothing ever happened.'

But when the students heard a 'low rumbling, like a freight train,' they ran inside and took cover. 'There were five of us in the bathroom with a mattress over us.'

Several students had to be rescued from wrecked residence halls and 51 were injured, nine seriously, but there were no deaths, university spokesman Mark Kahler said.

The school sustained millions of dollars in damage as the tornado's winds toppled walls, ripped off roofs and tossed vehicles around like toys.

'Just about every building is damaged, with most of the damage to the dormitories. About 80 percent of the residence halls are demolished or in bad shape,' Kahler said."
Union University has a blog that is reporting on how the university is responding to the tornado

and here are many more pictures from Union University and here are more from Yahoo.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Change of plans

On Saturday Feb 2, we will be doing an inventory and hellping to move some things for the University. We wil meet at the storage facilty (the old Dapa, ACME, or UPS building) on the far West of campus--best way to get there is take first left off of campus onto Union, take first left. It is less than 400 meters from campus.

BonaResponds 1/30/08 meeting recap

From Carrie:

Hi All!

In case you missed the meeting or just need a
reminder, here is what we talked about:

-Departing from SBU on Friday, February 22 around 5pm

-Mainly staying in Pearlington, Mississippi. A small
group of volunteers will travel to Pass Christian.

-We will be rebuilding houses, and hopefully moving
residents back in! (Don't worry about your skill level.
You'll learn as you go)

-Departing Pearlington on Friday, February 29 in the
evening to arrive at SBU on Saturday, March 1

-Cost is $219, which includes transportation, food
while at camp, and lodging. Any food expenses on the way
down and back are not included. If money is an
issue, let us know.

_ If you can drive (i.e. employee of university or 25 or over), you may qualify
for $100 price reduction

-A $50 deposit is due by Wednesday, February 13.
Collection will take place on Wednesday from 10AM to noon
in Murphy. If you can't make that time, we can make
alternate arrangements.

-We will post the necessary forms to
along with a packing list. The forms need to be
turned in before we leave SBU.

Again, no special skills are required (although, if
you know how to do something, don't be bashful). Have a
willingness to learn and an excellent, fun attitude!

If you have any questions or comments, please email


Check out and for videos, photos, updates, and more ways to get

BonaResponds returns to the South

BonaResponds returns to the South:
"'The trip over winter break says a lot about BonaResponds,” said Jim Mahar, Ph.D., founder of BonaResponds and assistant finance professor at St. Bonaventure. “We were there early after the storm, and more than two years later. We have not forgotten about the area."

BonaResponds will return over the University’s spring break from Feb. 22 to March 1 to tie up loose ends in Pass Christian and start new beginnings for some people in Pearlington, Miss. The cost of this trip is estimated at $219, which includes transportation and food while down south. BonaResponds welcomes anyone and encourages more adults to join.
Nice article Emily!!