Sunday, August 30, 2009

Katrina + 4: it seems like just yesterday, but it seems like forever ago

It has been 4 years since Katrina. I could write for hours on the impact it has had. Clearly it was a catastrophic storm. It leveled houses, killed thousands, and totally reshaped lives, organizations, and governmental agencies.

And while it was horrible, it also forged millions of new friendships and made positive changes for many as well. Personally, without Katrina, I have an almost impossible time imagining BonaResponds.

I toyed with the idea of trying to reflect on how Katrina changed things into a pre-Katrina/Post Katrina world. But I better get to work on other things. But I do want to provide some links to what others have been saying about the anniversary and provide a link to show how I was reporting things on RandomTopics2 back immediately after the storm as BonaResponds was just getting started.

On the 4th year anniversary:

A heartwarming story from NOLA:
Gentilly woman's Katrina anniversary picture-taking tour offers satisfaction, motivation -
"'Progress,' Royal said of the street's transformation. 'You can't say it's not progress.'

Proof of the progress can be found in the pictures she has taken of Gentilly landmarks on Aug. 29 each of the last three years."

And from the editorial in Biloxi's SunHerald:
"Four years ago today the Coast faced the daunting task of dealing with the consequences of a deadly and devastating hurricane.

How daunting a task?

Estimates vary, but the number of housing units significantly damaged or destroyed by Katrina totaled at least 75,000....we’ve come a remarkably long way in our recovery and rebuilding efforts. From tens of thousands in need of permanent shelter to just a few hundred in only four years.

That’s not perfect.

But it is miraculous."

From more the coverage in Biloxi's Sun Hearld:
"Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway on the Town Green told a group at 8 a.m. that four years ago at that place and time, they would have been in water way over their heads. Pass Christian dedicated a new fire station to a longtime volunteer firefighter who died in his home during Katrina and the Bay-Waveland area held a memorial service at the beach."
From the NY Daily News:
"Four years later, New Orleans has taken impressive steps toward recovery. Following a drastic reduction in population, the number of households in the city now stands at 77% of its pre-hurricane total.

While blight remains a problem - 31% of New Orleans' residential housing stock remains unoccupied - the city issued 1,420 permits for new construction in May this year, nearly double the number issued in the same month last year.

That's some of the good news. The bad news is that the city's system of protective levees and canals remains inadequate.

My friend David Campbell the founder of HODR. Writing in his "look-back" to commemorate the 4th anniversary, thanks the volunteers without whom this recovery would not have been possible perfectly concludes:
"To everyone affected by Katrina we are always thinking of you and wishing you the best, today especially. And to everyone who came to help, thank you. Wherever you are now, know that your day, week, month or more volunteering made a difference in someone’s life."

Four years. It seems like it was just yesterday, but it seems like it was forever too.

PS a little note to any Gulf Coast resident who maybe reading this. Your recovery has been amazing. Keep up the good work!

While St. Bernard razes, N.O. holds back, creating contrasting landscapes -

While St. Bernard razes, N.O. holds back, creating contrasting landscapes -
"Four years later, distinct approaches have emerged in the two parishes: St. Bernard has proceeded with an aggressive pace of FEMA-financed demolitions, tearing down nearly one-third of its pre-Katrina housing in an attempt to rid neighborhoods of homes that could go unoccupied for years.

New Orleans has been much slower to bulldoze, often trying to allay preservationists concerns, as well as some residents' post-storm fears of a land grab in vulnerable areas. What remains is a city with about one-third of its residential structures unoccupied."

Salvation Army expects to continue flood relief in Gowanda into September - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

Salvation Army expects to continue flood relief in Gowanda into September - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"The Salvation Army has been on the scene since Aug. 10 when severe rains and flash flooding damaged some 400 homes and compromised the local reservoir.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 25, Salvation Army disaster teams have worked 34,909 volunteer hours, Ballengee said, providing: 31,675 meals, 286,500 bottles of water, 18,100 gallon jugs of water, 30,884 bottles of sports drinks, 500 gallons of coffee, 1,638 bottles of bleach, 2,043 clean-up kits and 1,651 personal hygiene kits.

The Salvation Army established a disaster center at the old Gowanda Fire Hall on Main Street, providing food, clothing, water and cleaning supplies. 'That will continue until Sunday, Sept. 6,' Ballengee said."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Orleans Four Years Later : NPR

New Orleans Four Years Later : NPR

Debate on hurricane's legacy -- Our view: Four years after Katrina, New Orleans reinvents schools - Opinion -

Out of bad things, good things can happen. Here is one example from NewOrleans:

Four years after Katrina, New Orleans reinvents schools - Opinion -
"If there was any silver lining to the devastation that Hurricane Katrina wrought in New Orleans four years ago, perhaps it is this: The water washed away one of the nation's worst school systems and left New Orleans determined to rebuild in a wholly new way."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sen. Schumer says disaster declaration will provide relief - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

Sen. Schumer says disaster declaration will provide relief - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"I want to thank everybody. One of the great things about Chautauqua County, Western New York and America is we volunteer,' Schumer said.

He called volunteering a great American tradition. He compared the men and women who labored to restore safety these last two weeks to the men who laid down their plows and took up muskets in the 1700's when the British invaded.

'They weren't paid, they weren't forced to do it, they volunteered, and that's the great tradition of America. Thank you for being part of it"

Leadership by example

This is the first of a series of somewhat reflective pieces on the work in Gowanda. They are not so much about the actual work, but the lessons learned and the good that came out of the storm.

As leader of BonaResponds I have seen many too many natural disasters--From Katrina to Ike, from the Buffalo Ice Storm to Tornadoes and floods across much of the Eastern half of the US. In responding to these disasters, I have learned so much. I have learned to push my limits, I have to learned that the world is full of people who are willing to help when the need arises. This learning process does not end, so at the risk of sounding too much life a university professor (I teach finance at St. Bonaventure University as my day job), this is the first of a series of semi-reflective pieces that will center on Gowanda, but go much further than that. I hope you enjoy.

We all know leadership is more than a title. Management gurus and books preach that you have to lead by example. The first of our lessons will deal with that and it is an example that speaks volumes without saying a word.

1. Leadership by example:

The first lesson has on Philadelphia Street. Philadelphia Street (Route 62) was one of the worst hit areas in Gowanda. Water rushed down the hill and flooded most of the basements. We got this job by asking some neighbors who said that the elderly woman who lived there could use some help emptying out years of memories (to say nothing of water and mud) from here basement.

When we arrived, much of the work in the front two rooms had already been done by family, neighbors, and Mike and Wendy two volunteers from Springville. But that is not to say there was no work. There were still many damaged personal items and a washer and dryer to remove and take to the curb. Additionally there was still some water in the furnace room and the rooms had to be washed down..

For efficiency reasons and because of the stairway (basements are a pain) we decided to do an assembly line/bucket brigade where the items would be handed up to the outside.

With the line there are places where you want to be and where you don't want to be. For instance, standing outside in the sun and fresh air is much preferred to standing on the steps, or worse at the very start of the line. It is at the start where you are still standing in water, where you you to pick up each of the the wet dirty items, and weigh the costs of salvage vs the memories lost before deciding to throw the item out or set it aside to save.

In this position, at the very front of the line was Sr. Margaret Carney, the president of St. Bonaventure University. The single person on campus who has more time demands than anyone else. The person whose time is more valuable than anyone else. The person who had to be in Pittsburgh PA later than evening. She had set aside all of the excuses and came with BonaResponds to help. She was there without press releases, without cameras (well except ours), and without any hint of being above the work. Working side by side with students, flood victims, and volunteers off the streets. She was there to help.

NY Senator in HODR Command Center

VERY Impressive...Shumer in the volunteer center in Gowanda with Bill Driscoll of HODR.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Livestrong Day Bake Sale

As part of the Livestrong Days' (October 2-3) BonaResponds Work Day and Bake Sale, Park and Shop has agreed to both host a part of the bake sale and also sell specially packaged baking items that will be perfect for the bake sale.

With each package, you will get 2 foil pans, and two items to cook. This was you can cook one for yourself and donate one to the bake sale.

In addition, in the package will be a flier/brochure with information on Livestrong and BonaResponds. Look for these package at all Park and Shops in the weeks leading up to Livestrong Day!

Cross Posted on BonaResponds and ParkandShop Blogs

Sunday, August 23, 2009

some pictures from Jen from Gowanda

Here are some pictures Jen has uploaded as well.

How bad is it? Video of the worst and a plea for volunteers

Just South of Gowanda lies the worst destruction. The Flaggs were among the hardest hit.

Here Rob films a brief interview with Kim and then shows some of the destruction that remains. (filmed at 6pm on Saturday Aug 22-almost 2 weeks after the storm).

Friday, August 21, 2009

How to be more effective

An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day - Peter Bregman -
"But even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few important things when so many things require your attention?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gowanda this Fri-Saturday

Saturday-Remember this Sat. Volunteer to help in Gowanda. Leaving SBU at 9:00. Meeting at Aldrich Elementary at 10:30. come and help!

Friday just came up--work begins at 10. Meet at Aldrich Elementary (across the street).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

YouTube - Why BonaResponds is needed

YouTube - Why BonaResponds is needed: "A brief video showing what it is like when we scout a house. This is from Gowanda. It shows the process and also hints at the enormity of the task and why volunteers are needed."

Services Available - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Jamestown | Post-Journal

Services Available - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Jamestown | Post-Journal:
"'Infrastructure took a serious hit,' said Chris Baker, county emergency services director and fire coordinator. 'I've never seen anything like this,' he said, adding the Aug. 9 and 10 storms came without warning, dumping 5.5 inches of rain on the area in one hour and 7 inches over two hours. He said National Weather Service officials said the storm hovered over the area horizontally instead of the usual diagonal patterns, which lead to river and Cattaraugus Creek gauge monitoring levels constantly going up."

Monday, August 17, 2009 "
'I don't have flood insurance because I didn't think I needed it down here, and it's also very costly, and flood insurance only covers so much.'

The house next door has a foundation that collapsed from the pressure of the flood waters. The house is condemned and it's owner left destitute.

Gowanda homeowner Craig Taylor said, 'It leaves me broke. I got to pay for it out of pocket.'

He too has no flood insurance, but says he has never asked anyone for help for anything. Now he may need federal help, if it is made available."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Still reeling, storm victims vent frustrations at forum : Home: The Buffalo News

Still reeling, storm victims vent frustrations at forum : Home: The Buffalo News:
" Gowanda, BonaResponds, a group of St. Bonaventure University volunteers, arrived Friday afternoon to assist with cleanup efforts. The group of 12 volunteers will help residents until Sunday getting mud out of basements, removing insulation and damaged items from properties. 'The magnitude of this storm was huge,' Klancer said. 'We all know that."

Gowanda residents bring questions on flood recovery - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

Gowanda residents bring questions on flood recovery - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"'The water quality is good and the quantity is there,' Public Works Superintendent Michael Hutchinson said. 'Our reservoir is at 15 feet today (about a four-day supply, according to Village Engineer Mark Burr) and things are looking up.'

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hundreds of pictures from Gowanda today

Mike, Matt, and Lionel
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
Here is the whole set--although I still have one camera's worth left! Many good pictures, but so so much good work! Excellent work everyone. You really were impressive!

Where we are meeting and Open letter to volunteer

Here is a map of Gowanda and the elementary school

View Larger Map

Just a reminder to everyone that BonaResponds will be in Gowanda today through Sunday and could really use some help.

I realize it is one of the last summer weekends but there is a great deal of work and these really are our neighbors and in many cases classmates.

Walking the streets in Gowanda I was regularly meeting SBU alumni and families that were in need of help from the flooding.

And being there really does make a difference. one small quote from a Jamestown Street woman we spoke with earlier this week:

"My basement is waiting the arrival of the St. Bona Group on Sunday....
Since talking with you and your team, I have built confidence that my
basement will once again be restored......thanks
to a dedicated team of professionals from St. Bona'"

So, even if you can only spare a few hours. Gowanda is close and centrally located between Olean, Buffalo, Jamestown, and even Erie.

There is a place to sleep if you want to stay the nights. Food will be provided.

Leaving SBU (from Murphy)

Friday 10:00
Saturday 10:00

meet in Gowanda at the Aldrich Elementary school just down from the Fire Dept
Friday 11:30
Sat 11:30
Sunday 9:30

There is MUCH more info plus sign ups forms, waivers, and a whole series of videos etc at our blog ( and website:

I really hope some of you can make it out. After seeing the videos I am pretty sure you will realize the damage is great and the need is high.

Hope to see many of you this weekend.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Two Gowanda Videos from TV

News4 video:

and then another on the good news on water!

What to bring?

To work in Gowanda:


(here is a list from past trips which I suggest you look at to at least gauge what you might want.)

If you have a BonaResponds shirt, we'd love you to wear it.

We will have PB and Jelly and some water but you probably want to bring food as well for lunch on Friday.

Water is in short supply there so let's not be a burden and bring our own water.

We will provide food on Sat Night and Sunday AM.

If you are staying Saturday night, obviously bring toiletries, sleeping bag, etc. The living quarters will be very basic (but honestly that makes it more fun).

We will be bringing:

Shovles, sump pumps, extension cords, lights, a chain saw, gutting equipment.

Donations to Gowanda


Donations of water, food, and furniture will be accepted 12-5 (times may change) at the Elementary School on Aldrich. Heather will be in charge.

Things most needed:

  1. Bottled water
  2. Linens (I guess sheets?)
  3. Furniture
  4. Appliance (Washers and dryers esp)
  5. SOME? clothes.

What are needs? You tell us. (This is for people affected by the flood to ask. There are no guarantees but if your request is known, there is more of a chance of getting it.)

PLEASE go light on clothes. In every disaster I have been at an overabundance of clothes have been donated. Most of them have been thrown out and all of them have taken much time for volunteers.

there will be changes in this in a few minutes. THIS LINK WILL REMAIN AND BE UPDATED.

National Guard addressing water crisis in Gowanda - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

National Guard addressing water crisis in Gowanda - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"'As everybody knows, the water system here in Gowanda has been severely compromised, and not helped by a fire to one of the homes just a couple of hours ago,' Paterson began. 'The local reservoirs have overtopped and have severely reduced the amount of available water that is here. The sewer system has been damaged, the mayor reports that hundreds of homes have been damaged, the police department and municipal buildings have received damage, the Tri-County Hospital has been evacuated and closed as of early Monday morning and it will remain closed for some period of time.'

The damages found in Erie and Cattaraugus counties that Paterson eluded to have been roughly estimated at around $19 million, $7 million shy of the federal threshold for disaster relief aid. Despite the rough estimate, Paterson said he believes the $26 million worth of damage required could come from the Gowanda area alone."

More later including this:
"To aid in water distribution and cleanup duties, the National Guard has been called in. Forty National Guard soldiers and 14 heavy duty pieces of equipment were deployed on Panther Drive in Gowanda early Wednesday afternoon to begin their work."

and quotes from State Senator Cathy Young who believes the storm is bad enough to warrant Federal aid.

BonaResponds in the OTH

From the Olean Times Herald:
"BonaResponds will set up a camp at the Gowanda Fire Hall Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers are needed to help with the cleanup of the village of Gowanda. BonaResponds is also looking for people with trucks to help transport tools from Olean to Gowanda. More information can be found on the BonaResponds Web site,"

Catching up the news from Gowanda

So many things happening that it is impossible to keep up, but some things of note.

* Getting volunteers has been more challenging than expected. I guess people do not want to give up a summer weekend. Not sure but it is disappointing. Remember it is open to everyone. So if you are reading this, you qualify :) (if under 18, need a parent's signature on the waiver form)

* I was impressed that a trampoline ended up several blocks down the street until I heard of a camper still missing and a truck floated nearly 2 miles down the creek.

* Water is a problem. It caused the problems first, now a long term problem. With limited reservoir capacity and quickly emptying supplies, trucking in water is at best inefficient. I hear they did get the old wells working today but are concerned they won't last since the pumps are so old. Fingers are crossed!

* Spoke with a few residents today who were not familiar with mold. If you have drywall that got wet, be very careful. I had one tell me today it was ok since she had wiped it off the front of the wall. The problem is that the drywall (sheetrock) gets wet straight through. Add that to insulation behind the wall, and you have an environment that is nearly perfect for mold growth.
For more, see this from Texas A&M, or from the EPA, or this from forest products that is very well done.

* Hot or cold? Clean-up would be horrible in the cold, but mold growth would be inhibited.

* Dust is a big problem. An idea from Cedar Rapids Iowa after their flooding that should be used in Gowanda: spraying the roads with water. I spoke with a friend tonight who said that the Little Valley Race track has a tanker like that. If not use oil tankers (for crushed stone streets) filled with water. It will at least help keep dust down.

* It petrifies me the number of residents who have said they have had "shocks" when unplugging appliances etc. Turn the electricity off before working on the house. Please.

* Walking around town with Bill Driscoll of HODR reminded me how good HODR is. They will be checking early next week but it looks unlikely that they will be coming.

* Has anyone tried getting any of the Sabres or Bills down? It would be good for morale and would get more press coverage.

* Parents, PLEASE have your children wear shoes.

* I have not seen (which does not mean they are not there) but anyone giving out tetanus shots. Make sure you have had one. ESPECIALLY if you get ANY cut/scratch/etc. It is NOT something to play around with.

* Have had several "special" moments already. One was when I sent out a request for volunteers and heard back from Mark and Ken who we had helped build a house for last year. This time they want to give back and are volunteering this time around.

* I know there is a clothing collection. I hope it goes better than after Katrina. There were piles of clothes being thrown out on many street corners. (if it does happen again, there are places that will recycle the clothes).

* Speaking of collections, I have heard from two people (and will be contacting a third) about furniture donations. Not sure on how to give out, but stay tuned.

* Unlike in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama etc, everyone has heard of Bonaventure. Indeed I have been amazed at how many people I have run into that I know. Even Janey who went with us to Pearlington MS.

* We will be working Fri-Sun. Most of us will probably be wearing brown. If you see any of us, feel free to come up and tell us of other jobs. Or better, come volunteer with us!

* Saying "We can't help you" is the hardest thing I do. It won't happen too often if we get enough volunteers. Volunteer and get your friends to as well!

You can follow all of our Storm updates on our blog and by twitter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WKBW story on Gowanda

More pictures and a video from Gowanda

Click on the picture to to be taken to over a hundred pictures from Gowanda and locally following the storm and at least one video. More to upload:

Assessing the damage in Gowanda and new pictures

Muddy roads
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
BonaResponds and HODR went to Gowanda to assess the damage. The findings? About 250 homes were damaged.

We will be setting up camp Friday-Sunday in Gowanda to help. We are in desperate need of volunteers as well the use of a pickup truck to haul our supplies.

See for much more info.

Here is the whole set of pictures (or at least the ones I have uploaded so far). "
Right now, water is the number one concern of village leaders. Emergency supplies have been trucked in because the village reservoir is now a mud pit.

Gowanda Village Mayor Dick Klancer said, 'We have about a million and a half gallons in our storage tank and that'll last maybe three days. Our reservoir is down for a year, maybe longer. It's a huge, a huge problem.'"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Updated pictures from Gowanda

More pictures from Gowanda. The mud is incredible. From Emily's uncle (John Walgus)

* I was surprised to see that the US Post Office delivering the mail!
* Karla- Len was with me when I took these, most roads are closed in and out of Gowanda because of washed out roads and collapsed bridges.
* Power and email are sketchy so I am trying to send these quickly.
Another storm is heading this way.

Video from Gowanda

Youtube video from eclickNick. Wow. :(

BonaResponds time!

Larry Orsini speaking on BonaResponds Gowanda

Larry Orsini scouted Gowanda for BonaResponds today.

He reported back that there is much work for us to do in the area.

Come work with us! This Fri-Sat (Aug 14-16th). You will be glad you did! While it is hard work, it will be the best thing you have done for yourself and for others in a while.

See for more info.

WBFO: Aerial View of Flooding in Southern Tier, County Executive Declares State of E (2009-08-10)

WBFO: Aerial View of Flooding in Southern Tier, County Executive Declares State of E (2009-08-10):
"Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard and County Executive Chris Collins conducted an aerial view of the Erie-Cattaragus border Monday. Sheriff Howard say they saw a great deal of washed out roads and bridges"

Many good pictures etc.

BonaResponds Gowanda includes sign up form

BonaResponds will be helping in Gowanda. A small crew will go over for the Day on Friday. Then another crew (canbe the same people) will be there Saturday and Sunday helping the area recover from storm damage.

Work will include hauling debris to the curb, cleaning out basements, cutting up downed trees, cleaning out and gutting homes, shoveling mud.

Open to all.

Sign up here:

at (within the hour this should be fixed) or email

Free. Bring a Lunch for Friday. Leaving SBU at 10, back by 7:00.
Saturday: leaving 10AM, returning 6pm on Sunday. Meals will be provided on Sat and Sunday.

While simple meals provided. Might want to bring granola bars etc.

We need drivers.
We are accepting food donations.

Will also accept money.

Bring work clothes, gloves, sleeping bags, water bottle.

if you are going to work with us you must fill out the waiver form on the main site.
many more details will follow in next few days. This is JUST evolving as I type.

More pictures from Gowanda

Emily sent along the following pictures from the Gowanda area.

Seems like it was hit the hardest. {NOTE NAMES CHANGED}
" The Pic of the brown car is the neighbors car that was in their garage. It slammed into Sally'ss
house and their garage is gone.

The Pic of the silver car is Sally's car. I found it a few houses down the street in some bushes.
The lights are on I don't know why. It seems that all the cars that were washed away
have their lights on. I tried to start it, just for the hell of it, but it wouldn't. I don't know
what I would have done if it did it is stuck in the mud and all kinds of tree limbs/branches
in the wheel wells, the mud up to the dash board.

Most of the village on the Cattaraugus county side was hit pretty bad. There was a fire truck
stalled downtown in front of the Post Office, water running right thru it.

We are all OK a little wet and dirty but OK. I know one man didn't make it.
I am not sure what happened, I think he had a heart attack and the ambulance couldn't
get to him.

We received just over 4 inches of rain in a very short time. I tried to take a girt home to the other
side of the village but I couldn't make it so she will stay with us. There was water coming over
the main bridge. I don't know yet if the river in town came over the banks yet or if it was just run off.

Thatcher brook was the main culprit. The bridge on US 62 just south of town is gone, and the bridge
on Hill street is pretty shaky, I went like hell going over it. It was the only way I could get back to my
house. I had to put the truck in 4X4 to get down some of the streets because of the
dirt, mud, tree limbs and rocks.

From Brian (a Current SBU FINANCE student) My home town just got leveled by a flash flood. It looks like New Orleans. Send in Bona Responds --near gowanda

Looks like the response just got bigger...plan on this weekend.

BonaResponds WNY--notice board announcement

In response to the storm of August 9, 2009, BonaResponds will be out in the field assisting in clean-up on Monday August 10th.

If you would like to help, meet behind Murphy at 12:30. Come dressed to work. We will have chain saws etc.

If you or someone you know needs help (priority is given physically challenged, elderly), please email or call 716.375.2111.

While we do not know exactly where we are going yet, my guess is Allegany County. WHen the storm hit we were in Friendship working on the house BonaResponds has been helping to build and the damage there is significant.

For pictures (and one short video) of the storm damage see prvious posts:
here and here.

Depending on the need, we may be going out later in the week as well. Follow BonaResponds on the website/blog or follow us on twitter at

Severe Storms Push Through the Area - - Rochester News, Weather, and Sports

Severe Storms Push Through the Area - - Rochester News, Weather, and Sports:
"Sunday's thunderstorms caused heavy rains, spawned a tornado in the Southern Tier, numerous lightning strikes, and knocked out power to hundreds.

Reports of damage to trees and power lines have come in from Albion in Orleans County, and Batavia in Genesee County, as well as flooding in Wayne County.

The National Weather Service has also confirmed that a tornado struck Sunday in the town of Rushford in Allegany County."
From WGRZ:
"Powerlines were down in front of Marc Haskins' home outside of Rushford. He says the wind picked up a small shed from across the street and dropped it in front of his driveway. It damaged his truck and cut the powerline to his home.

Haskins didn't see a tornado either, but he and his wife didn't any chances, "When we heard the rumble, we didn't even stop to look, we just went into the basement.""

From WKBW:
"There have been many reports of widespread damage and also 100 to 200 trees down in a 50 foot wide path in the Black Creek area.
The National Weather Service hasn't confirmed an actual tornado touchdown but crews will be assessing the damage Monday morning in those areas in Allegany county."

Here are some pictures from BonaResponds.

BonaResponds will be helping in the area. If you are in need of assistance (priority given to elderly and sick, or handicapped) please email or call 716-375-2111

BonaResponds and storm Pictures (August 9, 2009)

Here are some pictures of the first round of storms that hit WNY on August 9, 2009.

From Friendship and Olean/Allegany.

BonaResponds will continue helping with the clean-up (priority given to elderly, handicapped so if you know of anyone who fits that description, let BonaResponds know).

Likewise, if you would like to volunteer to help, email

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Many of you from the Biloxi trip may remember seeing this

"St. Michael’s has continued to hold Mass since March 2006. The inside walls are covered with plywood and plastic, and there is still not any indoor plumbing. Chairs are in the place of pews, but every Saturday and Sunday, about 500 members attend Mass.

“The church survived two major hurricanes (Camille in 1969 and Katrina), and it is still vibrant,” Barras said. “The engineers deemed the structure sound after the storm."

Click through for pictures

Friday, August 07, 2009

BonaResponds-Livestrong Day Announcement!

August 7, 2009

On Friday October 2 and Saturday October 3rd, 2009 BonaResponds will be holding a local service weekend in conjunction with the National Livestrong Day. We will have volunteers working at multiple sites across the area. As part of the Livestrong Day our focus will be on helping Cancer survivors.

If you know of any cancer survivor (or current patient) that needs some free help, be it mowing the yard, raking leaves (although early October might be a bit early), painting, or fixing a porch, or who know what, we would like to help.

But we need your help. Before we can help, we need to know who needs the help. So if you know of a cancer survivor who could use a little helping hand, please let us know. (contact information is below).

This is an entirely volunteer effort but we will ask that we be allowed to have a bake sale at the site to raise awareness of both BonaResponds and Livestrong. Profits of the bake sale will go to help fund Livestrong efforts around the globe.

The event, as all BonaResponds events, is open to all. It would be a great day for local businesses/offices to come out and volunteer! Or get your class together and make it a class project as well!

On Friday Oct 2 the work will run from 3pm -7pm (The Bake Sale will go from 11-2 on campus, then be moved to the work site.) On Saturday work will start at 10:00 and is expected to be completed by 4:00.

Details will be coming in the coming weeks.

For more information please see

Contact information:

Email: or

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

We're Only Human...: In the Eye of the Storm

Fascinating piece. When so many (and I am sure I have done it myself too) have asked, how can someone stay in the face of a hurricane (or other major storm), we now have some academic evidence.

We're Only Human...: In the Eye of the Storm:
"The survivors themselves told a very different story, however. When the psychologists surveyed actual Katrina survivors, they found that those who stayed behind did not feel powerless or passive. To the contrary, they saw themselves as connected with their neighbors—communitarian rather than self-reliant. Their stories emphasized their faith in God and their
feelings of caring for others. In short, they didn’t see themselves as failing to take action, but rather as taking a different kind of action—adapting to life’s travails and staying strong despite hardship."

This is from a Stanford article by Nicole Stephens. You can read more about it at

I will also add in the many conversations we have had with survivors who stayed, there was a mix of responses. Some said they had no means of leaving (this was what got most of the press coverage after Katrina), but a not small percentage said things that were more like the above article. For instance: "I had to stay to watch my parent's house" or "The last time we left there were many looters, so I stayed to protect the my, and my neighbors'/friends'/family's property."