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Longview Work Crew Provides Support During Flooding

December 24, 2015

By Brian Campbell, Community Corrections Officer,

Longview Work Crew Supervisor

work crew inmates shoveling on a downtown Kalama road

Work crew inmates shoveling on a downtown Kalama road.

KALAMA – One of the important components of the DOC Community Restitution Program is serving the community. In December the Longview Work Crew responded to a natural disaster and proved vital to maintaining local government services and protecting homes and businesses in Kalama, Wash.

On December 8, the Longview Work Crew, consisting of 10 community inmates went to the city of Kalama. With record rain falling and flooding on the horizon, the city of Kalama asked the work crew to fill sand bags for local homes and businesses. Over a span of eight hours, the work crew filled between 750 and 1,000 sand bags and stacked them on pallets to be delivered to homes and businesses by the Kalama Public Works.

Later that evening the work crew was notified that downtown Kalama was completely flooded and being evacuated. The next day the work crew arrived in Kalama and the inmates worked for 11 hours filling another 1,000 sand bags, delivering sand bags to local citizens and businesses. Midway through the day the city requested work crew begin building a dike with sandbags to divert floodwaters from inundating another street. The inmates worked together building the dike roughly 50 feet long and three and a half feet high and clearing debris from drains that were plugged to help keep the floodwaters from rising. The day was long, wet, and filled with hard work, but the inmates worked together to assist Kalama in anything that was needed.

The following day work crew went back to Kalama as floodwaters were receding and major clean-up was needed. The Kalama Police Department and City Hall both flooded and needed to have office furniture and computer equipment moved to a temporary location. Inmates spent the first four hours assisting in moving items the flooded locations to the Kalama Community Center and setting up offices for city staff. Another five hours were spent in downtown Kalama. There the inmates shoveled the mud, debris, trash, leaves, and rocks that covered city streets, housing developments and businesses into dump trucks for removal.

On December 11, the work crew returned once more to Kalama. They spent the day transporting office furniture donated by the county to the City of Kalama and moving library books from the library to a dry storage. The library was flooded with over a foot and a half of water and all books on the bottom shelf were destroyed, but the thousands of remaining books needed to be boxed up and moved to a temporary location.

Throughout the week the inmates received many thanks from local businesses and citizens for their hard work in assisting the city during the flood. Many citizens brought cookies and drinks to the inmates while they worked and two local businesses brought the inmates food on separate days for their hard work. Poker Pete’s Pizza donated pizzas to the inmates and city staff as they worked and the Columbia Inn brought the inmates cheeseburgers another day as they worked to clean the parking lot areas of the restaurant. The inmates expressed pride in being able to assist during a time of crisis and commented on how nice it was to see others complimenting and thanking them for their hard work.

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