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Tulsa volunteers already in place to meet Hurricane Michael

Tulsa volunteers already in place to meet Hurricane Michael (KTUL)

Thirteen volunteers from the Tulsa Army Corps of Engineers office are near the Gulf Coast ready to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

They are waiting at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama for the storm to pass, so they can go to work on the recovery effort.

The Tulsa volunteers will be gone for 30 to 60 days, leaving their families and coworkers behind.

Their primary mission is to restore electric power to key buildings using contractors who have portable generators ready to go.

After that, they’ll do whatever is needed and that can include things like helping other corps volunteers cover the roofs of damaged homes with blue plastic tarps.

They will face seven days of hot, humid conditions. Things like dry socks will be a luxury, but those who do the work all end up volunteering again.

The Deputy Commander of the Tulsa District said it is gratifying work.

Lt. Colonel Richard Childers said, "The people that we've had come back are better for it. They feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

He added that they are often motivated to look for bigger challenges in their careers because of the experience.

While witnessing all the suffering can be heartbreaking, those who've done the work say it has huge rewards, such as turning the power back on in Puerto Rico or protecting a road from flooding in South Carolina.

Corps Public Information Officer Ed Johnson has done several deployments.

Johnson said, "They would shout their thanks or appreciation from their vehicles as they were either trying to seek safe haven or using the roads that we were trying to keep open.”

Johnson said it brings a smile to your face when people cheer your work.

Those who do the volunteer work aren’t the only ones who sacrifice.

Childers said, "Not only, just like the military, does a deployment mean that your significant other and your family have to continue without you, but so do your colleagues.”

The people involved with the Tulsa office have already handled four disaster deployments this year, with a fifth possible later this year.

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