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Cleanup daunting in NC

Billy Tarleton needs more muscle power.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | BALTIMORE | October 8, 2003

"We need help from anywhere and everywhere we can get it right now."

—Billy Tarleton

Billy Tarleton needs more muscle power. He's got a whole state filled with garbage, and he needs people to help clean it all up.

Tartleton, disaster site coordinator for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief in North Carolina, is the man in charge of Baptist work crews in the Isabel-ravaged areas of the state.

Right now he's got between 40 and 45 people out in the field, working out of 15 different Baptist churches. But given the cleanup workload –Tarleton has more than a thousand jobs on his hands – a lot more volunteers will be needed to pick up the trash that Isabel left behind. "So we need help," he said.

Most of the work involves cutting up fallen trees and dragging the debris to roadsides, where local and county governments can collect it. But there is also repair work to be done, such as using tarps to patch up leaky roofs.

And at Hatteras Village and other coastal areas, the problem isn't so much tree limbs as it is various kinds of detritus deposited by Isabel's storm surge.

"A lot of what they're doing there is just digging houses out," he said. "They say it looks like the county landfill."

Tartleton, along with his wife, Beadie, is coordinating the work crews out of the Memorial Baptist Church in Williamston, N.C. He's not necessarily looking for people with chainsaw and carpentry skills, although those people are certainly needed. But anybody who can drag tree limbs or truck out trash is somebody he would like on his volunteer roster. (In Hatteras, most of the work "is just picking up trash and dragging it to the streets.")

"We need help from anywhere and everywhere we can get it right now," he said.

Tarleton has no idea how long he will be working out of Williamston, but it looks like it could be months at the very least. Since this coordinating work is part of his missionary work for the Baptists, Tarleton plans to see the work through until every one of the thousand-plus jobs are completed.

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