Originally published: July 18, 2021
Team Rubicon volunteers helping Omaha-area residents clean up storm debris
OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – A group of Team Rubicon volunteers is in the area helping those in need with storm debris removal following severe storms a week ago.
“Local governments everywhere can be overwhelmed after an event. That’s when volunteers can get onto private property and take the pressure off,” said Team Rubicon incident commander Mike West.
West traveled from Denver to Omaha this weekend. He’ll manage Team Rubicon volunteers who will work in the area for at least a week, helping disabled and elderly homeowners with storm debris removal.
On Sunday, one stop was the Benson home of a retired Navy veteran, Walter Glessman. The volunteers helped cut and drag tree debris out of his yard so city crews can pick it up this week.
Glessman said without Team Rubicon’s help, debris pickup would’ve been a lot more complicated.
“I would’ve probably had to have a tree service and then I’d have to borrow money from the bank because that would’ve been real expensive,” Glessman said.
He was thankful to the volunteers and adds it’s a weight lifted off his shoulders.
“I was very happy when they called me this morning, they called about half hour before they came they did a real nice job, they were all real nice folks, they did real good work,” Glessman said.
The group has set up a command center at the Subby Anzaldo Community Center, where West met with Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert. The cleanup efforts are being dubbed “Operation Husker Strong.”
“One thing I have seen is the goodness of people helping each other,” said Stothert. “I can’t thank Team Rubicon enough and I know the people they are here to help will be grateful.”
So far, volunteers have finished eight jobs with 100 more requests in the pipeline. The people working in Omaha on Sunday were all area residents but others might be brought in from a 450-mile radius if needed.
“We have the capacity to increase our service,” said West.
Those who need help can call the 211 Helpline that’s run by United Way of the Midlands between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Team Rubicon is a veteran-led disaster response organization that was formed in 2010. The team members, known as “Greyshirts,” specialize in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
West has a history of helping the area, having assisted after the flooding two years ago. He recently returned from Baton Rouge, Louisiana after severe storms and flooding in late May.
Team Rubicon volunteers are working in five other communities right now with operations planned in four others.