Hurricane volunteer returns

Published 4:21 am Saturday, October 9, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
Dowagiac Union Schools Maintenance Supervisor Dave Daniels' 21-day stint in federal hurricane relief took him not to Florida, but to Atlanta and Reggeo, La., a tiny town consisting of a gas station and pizza place.
It was an adventure which began Sept. 11, the third anniversary of man-made destruction from terrorist attacks.
Daniels said 1,200 people setting out for battle against nature's fury singing "America the Beautiful" ranks as "probably one of the most moving things I've ever seen in my life," Daniels said.
If Reggio, La., doesn't sound like a strategic location, Daniels explained that it's adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, with three large fishing villages nearby.
Daniels said there were two-week or four- to six-week assignments available. "Some how the word 'yes' just popped out of my mouth," he said. The offer came up suddenly, so he had to scramble to clear his absence with the administration and his wife Cathy and daughter Calie.
Daniels' 25-member "Echo Team" split into a group of eight. "We took a bus ride through the hurricane, which was normally about a 6 1/2-hour trip. It turned out to be almost 16 hours.
Daniels said there was limited time to sight-see, primarily Sundays when the center didn't open until 10 a.m. to allow people to attend church.