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A way to help

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The recent tornadoes have been devastating, and aside from all the obvious ways to help I’ve come up with another way specific to woodworkers.

It’s been a bad-weather spring. Three of the worst bouts of tornadoes occurred in Joplin, Mo., Springfield, Mass., and along the Tennessee/Virginia border. As it happens, I have family or friends in all three places. In my recent family related travels, I’ve had the chance to view some of the destruction first-hand. It’s heartrending.

As devastating as the storms were, the outpouring of help has been tremendous. Following the early efforts aimed at rescue, first aid and returning utilities to the affected areas, the main need now is rebuilding and one other thing: simple cleanup and clearing of downed trees. I say “simple,” but downed trees number in the thousands.

I was talking with a friend yesterday, and it occurred to both of us that aside from rebuilding efforts, woodworkers could help in another way. Most of those downed trees are being cut up – scrapped, basically – and if they end up serving any useful purpose at all it’ll be in a fireplace next winter. But I don’t think anyone has realized that there are potentially thousands upon thousands of board feet of useable lumber just lying on the ground in all the tornado areas.

Are you near one of the tornado areas, and do you own or have access to a portable mill, such as a Wood-Mizer? If so, please consider spending some time turning downed trees into useable lumber, and donating it to whatever community it’s in. The folks in those areas would be thrilled to have it – it could be used directly in the rebuilding efforts, or turned into cash that could help in other ways. Even if you took home a bit of lumber for yourself to cover gas expenses, you could still leave behind hundreds upon hundreds of board feet of lumber that would be a boon to those communities.

Woodworkers are always happy to swing a hammer or wield a saw to help in times of disaster, but downed trees are often looked at as mere debris when devastation strikes. Instead of turning it all into firewood – and, sadly, landfill material – why not help turn it into a gift the communities can use?

Till next time,


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