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Team Rubicon deployed in southside St. Joseph to muck out homes damaged by floodwater

Team Rubicon does not do work on mobile homes or trailers, but encourages the public to call them at 469-631-5753 with information on southside homes damaged by the flood.

Posted: Aug 6, 2020 7:37 AM
Updated: Aug 6, 2020 7:44 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A disaster response team hit down in southside St. Joseph Tuesday.

Team Rubicon is helping homes severely damaged by the past few weeks flash flooding by gutting down the homes, so residents can have the foundation to rebuild. 

“If we aren’t gonna do it, who’s gonna do it?” asked Cassandra Flemming, Team Rubicon's Instant Commander. 

Team Rubicon is a disaster response team called to areas of the world not receiving the help they need. 

“So, that’s why we’re down here in St. Joe. We know there hasn’t been a lot of help with the city or state so we wanted to get down here as soon as we could,” said Flemming. 

One of the team's volunteers said when Team Rubicon arrived Tuesday and surveyed the southend, they knew this was a disaster they could really help. “We thought this is definitely up our lane, this is definitely what we do. We can make a difference here,” said Lisa Thompson, Volunteer for Team Rubicon. 

The disaster response team is made up of veterans, first responders and civilians from across the country. Volunteers, or commonly known as 'grey shirts,' deploy to assist in the world's disasters. This week, their task is fixing up the southside. 

“We got to a house yesterday and the homeowner was just in tears. She was so happy we were there,” said Flemming. 

The southend operation is called "Back in the Saddle," and the plan is to hit as many homes as possible in the span of five days. 

“So two different teams are going to two different houses. We will clear out the mood, we will basically if they have anything left in their house. We will move refrigerators, washers and dryers. Yesterday, my team had to help move a water-soaked king sized mattress from a basement,” said Flemming. 

On Wednesday, the disaster response team hit the ground running. Team Rubicon got their hands dirty mucking out one southside home's basement. Volunteers dragging out the homeowners mud-ruined belongings on sleds and piling them up on the street.

“Like 46 years of stuff cause that’s how long I’ve been here. I’m trying not to go back there and look at what they’re pulling out because there’s a lot of memories they’re pulling out,” said Mary Mcdermott, flood victim. 

The home belongs to Mary Mcdermott, a lifelong southside resident and flood victim. 

“The water came around my house with a vengeance. It was whirling, it was boiling. It was boiling,” said Mcdermott. 

When the floodwater started to rise, Mcdermott grabbed a few items before leaving her southside home. She said when she returned, she couldn't get back into her home for two days because of the scale of the mud. 

The muddy floodwaters completely covered her basement, a foot in some places. Mcdermott said letting her belongings go has been the hardest part of cleaning up, something that volunteers is a common side effect victims of disasters share. 

“When their belongings are impacted by floodwater, a lot of times, sewage is involved and that becomes a hazard. To get the homeowners to get to a place where they’re okay with letting those tangible things go,” said Thompson. 

As Mcdermott comes to terms with parting from her lifelong possessions, she said she is thankful for Team Rubicon. She said there's no way she could've fixed her basement by herself.

“Oh, no absolutely not. These were godsent people,” said Mcdermott. 

Team Rubicon does not do work on mobile homes or trailers, but encourages the public to call them at 469-631-5753 with information on southside homes damaged by the flood.

A site survey team will stop by and see if the home is within their capability to assist. The disaster team will be in the area until Saturday.

Team Rubicon also encourages spontaneous volunteers to join their efforts on the southend. Flemming said interested community members can call or stop by the Civic Arena, where Team Rubicon is being stationed. 

For more information on Team Rubicon, visit their website. 

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Pleasant conditions continue this week for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas even as temperatures are steadily warming. Highs look to reach into the upper 70s to low 80s. Dry conditions look to continue.
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