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NMCB 7 Seabees Make a Difference for Disaster Recovery Volunteers

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080306-22
Release Date: 3/6/2008 4:14:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Lavender, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 Public Affairs

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 erected buildings for volunteers assisting with the continued Hurricane Katrina recovery operations during a week-long project Feb. 29 through March 6.

The project included the construction of a food distribution area for volunteers working for the Presbyterian Disaster Recovery Program.

"The program is part of the disaster relief operations throughout the entire Gulf Coast," said Jim Marble, the camp maintenance and logistics coordinator. "The program has five camps now working along the Gulf Coast, stretching from Florida to Louisiana."

The five camps house and feed volunteers, who arrived from all over the U.S. and Canada, to help with various recovery efforts. The volunteers help with cleaning out debris, roofing, drywall, painting and other finishing projects on homes affected by Hurricane Katrina.

"My wife and I came down from Michigan for five months to help out," said Marble. "We felt there was a need for help and we weren't shy about giving a helping hand to the people affected by the storm."

The main camp at the Presbyterian New Life Community Church in Gulfport, Miss., houses 150 volunteers at any given time. While volunteers are present, they are provided with meals and lodging. The food area was a temporary complex; a tent constructed of treated cardboard and supports.

"Our previous meal distribution area was falling apart," explained Marble. "After two years, the rain, sun, humidity and winds were taking their toll. The roof leaked and it was becoming unstable. So during one of our projects, one of our volunteers had a contact with the Seabees. So we met with NMCB 7's commanding officer, who offered any assistance we needed."

NMCB 7 assigned seven personnel selected for their skills and determination to help to build the new food serving area.

"It's nice to get out of the office and put your hands on a project," said Builder 2nd Class (SCW) Ian Yancy, a builder from NMCB 7 and project leader. "It gives our guys some experience on a job site, hands-on training with materials and also gives them the satisfaction of getting a job done."

Once assigned to the project, Yancy was given a set of blueprints to work from and was informed that all materials and tools would be provided on site.

"We took it from there," explained Yancy. "We quickly tore down the old tent, which was falling apart on its own, and began to build the new building from the ground up. This is good work we're doing and it benefits everyone down the road. Most importantly, it's for a good cause. We're improving the quality of life for volunteers taking time out of their lives to come down here and help rebuild the area."

"We're very grateful for the Seabees coming out here to help us with this project," said Marble. "They've done a great job and are a great bunch of guys. We gave them a task and they do everything asked of them and then some more. Their construction skills are wonderful and even though this is my first time working with Seabees, I'd love to see them in action again."

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