August 29, 2005
Hurricane Katrina Hits Gulf
Coast—Katrina finishes the trek across the Gulf of Mexico and hits the US Gulf
Coast. Damage is catastrophic.
Early reports have New Orleans being spared the brunt of the storm however as the day progresses the levies begin to break causing catastrophic flooding over much of the city.
Originally forecasted to strike New Orleans directly, the storm had turned to the North and East just prior to land fall. The storm is enormous and destruction covers a range from Alabama well into Louisiana. “Ground Zero” of the storm was near Bay St. Louis MS. Many small towns along the coast are swamped and those who did not evacuate are stranded.
To the east, the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi are inundated by the storm from both the Gulf and from the Back Bay. This double whammy hits especially hard in the East Biloxi area where the Bridge to Ocean Springs is destroyed and thousands of the city’s poor have their homes totally flooded.
While estimates still vary, at least 1300 people die from the storm.
At St. Bonaventure it is the first day of the new semester.
August 30-September 4
Finding out how bad it really is.
The enormity of the storm begins to hit the world.
Seemingly every news report brings more bad news. There are harrowing pictures of bodies in the streets nearly a week after storm. All news outlets have reports of the continued flooding in New Orleans, of looting, animals dying, and FEMA’s inept response.
“It is our tsunami”-Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
Debbie Yawn arrives in Long Beach MS. She volunteers with the Salvation Army.
September 4-11, 2005
Monday the decision to go to help is made.
Over the next week the trip is offered to various finance classes and the finance club with limited success. When trip is offered, there is no set plan, only a desire to help. Three finance students express desire to go.
SIFE begins fundraising with local fire department.
Randy May arrives in Pass Christian MS and begins distributing food and water.
September 10 (SATURDAY)
SIFE joins with American Red Cross and local fire departments to raise $45,000 to aid in Katrina efforts
October 11th on plane:
Plans are laid out for next two trips.
Over the course of this month, relief organizations grow. HandsonUSA welcomes 250 new volunteers (including those from the newly named BonaResponds). Projects include getting bikes to residents and hanging handmade street signs throughout the area.
As relief organizations and residents along the coast try to celebrate Thanksgiving to bring back some normalcy, on campus planning for spring break trip picks up steam. Sean Lynch and Christine Francis are named student leaders. Todd Palmer and Michael Williams of the Journey Project help arrange financing to subsidize cost of trips to many students. Over the next months, further funding comes from the Franciscan Friars and individuals.
Hands On USA hands
Big Trip: 286 people.
5 sites: New Orleans, Bay St. Louis, Long Beach, St. Bernard’s Parish, and Biloxi.
Largest in both number and support; 13 faculty members and friars go. Alumni fly in from all around country.
Idea of Local Service days announced.
BonaResponds appears on Jim Lehrer national news.
Planning for how University's existing organization can handle BonaResponds. Meetings take place on campus and at Mt. Irenaeus. Idea of BonaServes launched and then scrapped.
Local service day tentatively planned but BonaResponds agrees to play secondary role for sake of campus unity.
Small trip back to the Gulf. Working in Biloxi and Bay St. Louis. Progress is slow. Many volunteer groups shutting down. Working with Persevere Volunteers, Jim enjoys moving a family into their new home. This is a first!
BonaResponds takes over local service days and announces the first one to be held the first weekend of the new school year. Approximately 45 people come and work out of Archbishop Walsh High School.
Media Credit: Anthony DiMario
October –November 2006
In Olean, we had a local day. Went back to Archbishop Walsh high school and finished painting. This day was led by James Kane.
BonaResponds grows up and goes to BUFFALO!
Jim's favorite. This showed that BonaResponds could in fact be a leader in the field. No longer were we merely working with others. We arrived immediately after the storm (driving bans in place in most areas).
Some of the cool things about this trip:
It was student leader initiated.
(Jim got a call saying how bad the area was while in
On Sunday David Campbell the founder of Hands on Disaster Response donated 3 chain saws that made much of the work possible over the next month and a half. Working with the Village of Lancaster and AmeriCorps, BonaResponds led the clearing on almost 100 lawns!
Using chain saws donated by HODR, we
spent 6 of the next 7 weeks in
December 2006-January 2007
Plans called for Christmas break trip to Biloxi, but only days before Christmas Hands on Gulf coast said they had no room for us. With the help of Dr. Bob Titzler who is on our advisory board, we were led to Randy Rangers. Our first trip came just as they were preparing to move operations from their original location at the site of the town's elementary school. The primary work of this trip was building the new camp. (Post script, the camp survived the high winds and storm of Gustav in 2008)
This turned into one of the most memorable trips. As Randy now calls it, that week was "one of our jewels."
This has become a very fruitful relationship for both sides as we have made 3 more trips to Randy’s. Jim now serves on the board of Randy’s Rangers.
Snow storm. Small crew went out shoveling and received the following:
"Thank you for sending those angels from St. Bonaventure to shovel for me. I didn't know how I was ever going to get it done. This is just wonderful! Thank you so much!"
Enterprise, Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, and Poplarsville.
BonaResponds Spring Break 2007: 60 volunteers left St. Bonaventure University on March 2nd for the Gulf Coast and has safely returned a little over a week later. Sixty participants joined the group to rebuild and revive the Gulf Coast from the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
However, before making it the Gulf Coast, BonaResponds stopped in Enterprise, Alabama to help clear downed trees and debris caused by the tornado that hit the city on Thursday, March 1st. It was unbelievable to see the destruction caused by the tornado and the way the local community came together to respond to it. The entire trip was a truly rewarding experience.
Our first local service weekend in the spring.
Work on Bob’s Woods commences
Tornado wipes Greensburg, Kansas out.
BonaResponds announces trip to the region only to cancel after further assessment deems trip unnecessary due to large number of nearby volunteers.
First summer work day is major success.
Have about 30 volunteers.
Two major jobs:
Olean Community Schools building and "Johns"
Throughout the summer: regular work days on Bob's woods cut approximately 2 miles of trails to the east of campus.
Two days before school started in Bradford, PA a storm hit hard; it was later deemed to be not a tornado. High winds brought down an estimated 500 trees across the region. After hearing the news of the storm at 10pm, BonaResponds was working in Bradford the next morning. While the number of volunteers was low, the effort was well accepted. Work continued for two weekends.
New leaders and new challenges:
James Kane and Anthony Dimario had
helped establish BonaResponds as an organization with staying power, but they
had each graduated. The new school year kicked off with Carrie Jackling
and Laura McDowell being the new leaders. They quickly proved their
worthiness by helping to organize efforts in Bradford and also a local service
day right after.
- Worked on campus (painting dugouts)
- Arch Bishop Walsh
- Built a wheelchair ramp for elderly women in Allegany
- Street clean up
Dedication of Bob's woods.
Fall break trip
Aided victims of flooding in Central Ohio.
Stayed at boy scout camp.
Adoption of a family in Pass Christian
Fundraising initiative begins with Goodshop.com
Bridge to Ocean Springs opens
Krytus family home burns. Baby and father severely burned
Bridge to Bay St. Louis opened
Winter trip ~ back to Randy’s!
- Pass Christian MS
“Boots and clothes for trip: $100
Sleeping on cots and eating what is served: $200
Getting a heartfelt thank-you from someone you helped: Priceless”
Spring Break Trip 2008
Major success! In spite of financial difficulties brought about by a lack of drivers, around 63 volunteers worked in Pearlington, Pass Christian, as well as Gassville, Arkansas.
More Spring 2008
Buffalo Service day
75 volunteers worked
Worked with City of Buffalo to help beautify and better Buffalo.
Local Service Weekend
Faculty, students and community members came together to improve the aesthetics in Allegany, Olean, and St. Bonaventure campus.
Lots of work on Bob’s Woods
Worked with HODR Project Newton County
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
A handful of students gave up two weeks of their summer vacation to help immediately respond to flood victims and their houses.
October 4, 2008
Local Service Day
St. Bonaventure University celebrate the 150th Anniversary
Bonaventure students spend the day giving back.
This successful work day is followed by Mass, a Creole Picnic Dinner, a New Orleans Jazz Tribute concert and Anniversary fireworks!
For more information, check out our blog or visit the timeline page for current events, videos, pictures, and more.