Department of Ecology News Release - May 3, 2011

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Ecology's WCC crews head out to help Missouri residents

OLYMPIA – Heavy storms, tornadoes and floods have ravaged America’s heartland and Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crews from the Washington Department of Ecology are headed out to help.

Ecology has deployed two WCC crews – one from Yakima and one from Mount Vernon – to St. Louis to help tornado recovery efforts after a series of tornadoes smashed through the area on April 22.

The two six-member crews – made up of five young adults and a supervisor – left Monday morning on a free round-trip flight provided by Southwest Airlines.

The WCC was established in 1983 but greatly expanded its environmental and community service to Washington residents in 1994 when it became a federally supported AmeriCorps Program. There are WCC crews and individual placements in more than 35 locations across the state.

In past years, WCC crews have been deployed to states as far away as Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to help residents affected by floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

AmeriCorps St. Louis made the request to Ecology last week. The 12-person response team will work in and around nine communities north of St. Louis most severely affected by the twisters.

Ecology expects the WCC crew members will be deployed for 30 days. Their planned work includes cutting trees, putting emergency tarps on roofs, removing debris and other emergency home repair, assisting with health and wellness checks, and identifying community needs such as shelter, food, clothing and household goods.

There is also the possibility that WCC members may need to help with potential flood response.

The WCC is made up of young adults between 18 and 25. Members receive job training, help restore and protect Washington’s environment, offer environmental education and volunteer opportunities for thousands of residents of all ages, and provide first-hand assistance to citizens in Washington and across the nation during floods, fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Typical work includes building trails, planting trees and other natural vegetation and biological monitoring projects. In addition, WCC members attend a series of paid trainings throughout the year such as advance wilderness first aid, wild land firefighting, and flood and hazardous material response.

Young adults who complete a year of WCC service earn state minimum wage and a $5,350 AmeriCorps Education Award that they can use for repaying student loans or toward future tuition expenses.

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Media contacts:

For more about the WCC (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/wcc/index.html)

Ecology in Focus: Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) risk management training (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6dnRxwpiJA&feature=player_embedded)