Repairing Isabel's damage

Sun Staff

Hot weather did not deter more than 200 nationwide AmeriCorps/NationalCivilian Community Corps members and alumni from joining Havre de Graceresidents yesterday to rebuild the city's promenade.

Yesterday's six-hour restoration project capped weeks of preparatory work.Yesterday's effort included placing the deckwork for more than 90 percent ofthe boardwalk, which was destroyed by Tropical Storm Isabel in September.

Workers spent the afternoon carrying stacks of lumber to other volunteersin charge of nailing down planks.

"Fifteen years ago, when we decided to build this," said Havre de GraceMayor David R. Craig, "people asked, `Who's going to come down here?' Today'sevent just goes to show you how wrong they were."

Wal-Mart sales associate Byron Shores, 48, of Aberdeen volunteered, alongwith four of his co-workers. "AmeriCorps asked us if we would donate, but wedecided to do more than that," he said. "We want to be a part of it."

Al Walker, 50, and Lewis Smith, 74, also felt compelled to rebuild theirtown's signature landmark. Smith's church met on the promenade every Thursdaynight, while Walker visited the boardwalk year round to watch the sunrise.

The promenade has sentimental significance for volunteers Tom and WinnieCarroll also. The newlyweds spent their courting days strolling down theboardwalk.

"We should do it for ourselves," Tom Carroll, 66, said of repairing thesite. "AmeriCorps has been kind enough to volunteer."

Dozens of AmeriCorps/NCCC alumni also came from across the country to helpwith the rebuilding. According to its Web site, the NCCC is a national serviceprogram for women and men ages 18 to 24.

Sheryl Hammon, 35, of South Carolina attended yesterday's event with hermother, Jane Weatherford.

"I'm 60," Weatherford said, "but I'm here to work."

Hammon was part of the service team that helped build the promenade 10years ago. "I was disappointed to hear what happened," she said, "but I'mexcited to be back."

Kim McDonald, 27, of Oklahoma, worked in Havre de Grace three years ago asan NCCC member.

"It's neat to meet the people doing it now," she said.

Nearly 40 of the AmeriCorps/NCCC's current members spent the past two weekspreparing for yesterday's event by clearing leftover debris, stacking lumberand laying down the pilings for the promenade.

Nineteen-year-old Elise Hecht of Minnesota was excited to see the progressshe and other members made during the past few weeks.

"It's a hard job to do. The lumber is heavy. The work is tiring," she said,"but it's been awesome to see how far we came."

Janessa Pierce, 22, of Illinois also enjoyed working on the promenade butfound the work exhausting.

The hardest part, she said, was doing all the work from on top of theboardwalk "since it would have been unsafe to work with an electric wire closeto the water, even though it might have been easier."

AmeriCorps/NCCC began planning the event six months ago and decided togather for a major push on the restoration project yesterday in honor of theNCCC's 10-year anniversary.

Arthur Doty, public works director for Havre de Grace, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized $408,000 for rebuilding the promenadeafter it was destroyed in the storm.

He estimated the cost of repairing the boardwalk at $500,000, but said thecity would find a way to pay the balance, possibly through private donationsand city funds.

Doty said the city would not know the final cost until the boardwalk iscomplete.

Monica Davis, spokeswoman for AmeriCorps/NCCC, said that althoughyesterday's event did not fully restore the promenade, AmeriCorps volunteerswill continue working on the project.

"The passion for this won't end today," she said.

Bob Lee Geddes, director of the Harford County Parks and RecreationDepartment, said he expects the project to be finished within the next threemonths. "By Sept. 19, the anniversary of Isabel, it will be back," he said.

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