A devastated home buried in tree limbs was all too common in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
During a hot and humid August in South Texas, Kris Dahlquist worked with recovery crews to help affected communities recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “I saw devastation like I’d never seen before,” Kris recalled of that summer in 2005.
Working in crews of 10, the volunteers helped the displaced residents re-enter their homes. Kris worked as a sawyer, employing his Stihl and Husqvarna saws to clear deeply entangled debris left in the hurricanes’ aftermath.
Of the saws’ performance, Kris gave details, “When we had branches and the like, the Stihl was outstanding! For the big oak trees that literally fell over after being uprooted and needed the trunks cut down to size, the Husqvarna did the grinding job like no other could. Stihl and Husqvarna are the kings for a reason!”
The work itself was grueling. The crews toiled in the South Texas heat and humidity while all electricity and running water was out of service, and the stench of infested water, rotting vegetation and lifeless animals overwhelmed the senses. Despite the conditions, Kris was proud to be part of the effort, recalling, “My best memories of that time are when we worked hard all day until I could no longer hold the saw without my hands cramping up so hard I couldn’t release my fingers.”
Working together, the crews cleared paths to the buried houses, repaired roofs, turned cars right-side up and made the homes livable again for the short-term, as the residents waited on longer-term housing.
Of his volunteer experience, aiding these devastated communities, Kris said: “To see people go from total trauma and shock to incredible happiness and tears of pure joy just to get back into a home–that didn’t even resemble a home any more–was completely worth all the effort!”
Kris was the leader and manager of our store in Missoula, MT, for four years – which is very far away from the possibility of hurricanes.