Ten days after hurricane force winds toppled trees and power lines across East Tennessee, crews and volunteers in Gatlinburg were still hard at work helping property owners.
Team Rubicon is a veteran-led disaster relief organization. About 20 volunteers from across the Eastern U.S. came to Gatlinburg to help with the damage caused by high winds.
"My military background has to do with humanitarian relief, so the perk involved is that I get to experience things with a lot of other veterans and first responders and civilians, doing something that's helping people on their worst day," incident commander Jimmy Lovett said.
Team Rubicon worked with the Sevier County Geographic Information System's (GIS) office to identify locations in need of attention. For this response, Team Rubicon worked on about 20 sites.
"There's been a lot of debris management, but we loaded this operation with our regional chainsaw instructors and also our qualified saw individuals," Lovett said. "We've mainly focused on cleaning up trees."
The volunteer work helps more than just those receiving free disaster relief. Lovett says having veterans, first responders and civilians working side-by-side helps veterans transition back into civilian life.
Some volunteers working Sunday had only learned about Team Rubicon just days before. Renee Sniegocki lives in Sevierville and met some of the Team Rubicon crew while they were off-duty.
"Of course, it's always great to help other people, but when you're in your own community and you know the people that you're working around and working for, it definitely makes it feel more important," Sniegocki said.
Team Rubicon will be working in Gatlinburg through Tuesday, May 16.
Volunteer opportunities are still available, too. Learn how to get involved HERE.