Help is on the way

SNOHOMISH – For eight years, Bert Wolfe has answered calls for help as a volunteer firefighter.

When Wolfe, 28, asked people in Snohomish to help his family, relatives and others in Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the community responded quickly and generously.

“I know what kind of community we’ve got,” Wolfe said.

Dan Bates / The Herald

Blake Sekulich (left) and Snohomish firefighter Bert Wolfe leave today for Mississippi to help Wolfe’s family, whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The men are bringing brooms, shovels, chain saws, power tools and bottled water.

Wolfe and longtime friend Blake Sekulich, 26, have received about $3,500 from Snohomish County residents and businesses. Now they plan to travel to Long Beach, Miss., where Wolfe’s mother, aunts, sisters and niece live.

They’ll hit the road today and drive nonstop to the town, a distance of about 2,900 miles. They will bring bottled water and chain saws, shovels, a generator and an air compressor donated by businesses and Sekulich’s parents.

Wolfe and Sekulich will help not only Wolfe’s family and relatives, but also others in Long Beach. They will do “whatever needs to be done for the entire community,” said Sekulich, a former construction worker.

Wolfe, who said he talks to his family in Mississippi several times a day, said Hurricane Katrina didn’t physically harm his family and relatives, even though they had to evacuate to Alabama for five or six days. They are now back in Long Beach, where some places have regained power, he said.

“Everybody is trying to get back to their normal lives as much as they can,” Wolfe said.

His mother, who works in the health care field, recently went back to work.

“They are getting better. It was really rough on my mom, first,” Wolfe said.

Sekulich said he has met Wolfe’s mother in Snohomish. He doesn’t know anyone else there, but Sekulich, who is unemployed, said he just can’t sit around.

“I’m sure everyone else in the same situation wants to do the same thing,” he said.

They will visit the home of Wolfe’s mother, which is several blocks from a beach and sustained minor damage from the hurricane. His mother said she still can’t get out the back door because of fallen trees, Wolfe said.

The two likely will return to Snohomish County in early October, Wolfe said. They plan to report back to those who donated money and tools on how they used their donations.

“This community is full of people with good hearts,” Wolfe said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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