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September 22, 2011 10:01 PM

Volunteers Help Clean Up Near Dakota Dunes

Dakota Dunes, SD

It's a race against the clock for flooded those trying dry out their homes. They've depended on family, friends, and anyone else to help with the massive clean-up effort.

Now some of that burden is falling on complete strangers who showed up with the machines and the manpower to make the work go faster.

"I've never run into a group like this before. I've never had to have a group like this before but this is fantastic," Riv-r-Land Estates homeowner Ray Schmitz said. 

Water swallowed schmitz's home for months this summer. When the Missouri River finally retreated to its banks, the mess left behind was astounding. Mud and sewage more than a foot deep was waiting to be cleaned out of his basement.

"We knew that was a monumental job getting that all out of there. We knew we could probably do it, but it would take a long, long time," Schmitz said. 

And he didn't know how it would ever get done before winter hit. But then nine Southern Baptists from Illinois knocked on his door.

"We don't build it back. We don't give money to build it back. What we give is, if nothing else, hope," volunteer Bob Jackson 

Three days after Jackson's group showed up, Schmitz's basement is clear and beginning to dry out. 

" It was enough that you were shoveling it. And then you carry it up the stairs until your back hurt," Jackson said. 

Carrying someone else's burden isn't unusual for this group. For nine years now they've traveled across the country cleaning up mother nature's mess.

"When they get the sanitizing done we'll be done here and then we're moving two houses down and we've got one across the canal we've gotta do," Jackson said. 

South Dakota is the fifth trip of the year for these volunteers. Each time they leave knowing they've made a difference.

"The world would be a lot worse place without em, I'll tell you that," Schmitz said.


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