Team Rubicon honored to assist tornado victims in Selma

Published 9:05 am Friday, February 17, 2023

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By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

Team Rubicon is no stranger to the citizens of Selma. When Hurricane Zeta hit the area three years ago, Team Rubicon helped the city rebuild.  After a tornado hit the area on January 12, the veteran group returns to lend a helping hand.

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“As you look, it’s obvious that the tornado cut right through the city,” Team Rubicon CEO Art delaCruz said. “The tornado bounces so you’ll see houses that are absolutely destroyed right next to houses that aren’t. There is significant damage. Some trees are hundreds of years old that have been knocked down. There are roofs torn off. Just the destruction, number one, is unbelievable.”

Team Rubicon started its first mission in Haiti in 2010 and has grown over the 13 years it has been in operation with 158,000 registered volunteers.

With Team Rubicon being a veteran-led delaCruz says that in moments like these, the training of a solider does come into play at some point.

“We are a veteran-led humanitarian organization,” delaCruz said. “I like to say I’m a humanitarian who is a veteran. We are veteran-led. We are inclusive of first responders, law enforcement, and basically kick-ass civilians. People who have the time, the energy, and the ability to contribute and they all find it. Now what we have found with being military-led and this ties to our founding is that we were built around people who again from 20 years of war can go into these ambiguous situations, make decisions and move forward in the absence of a complete picture. Which was Selma on January 12.”

Team Rubicon has been in Selma since right after the tornado and according to delaCruz they will be here until there is no more need.

“There are three different things that drive our continued presence,” delaCruz said. “Number one is continued need. That need is again as a volunteer organization that it’s meaningful impactful work. I think we still see it as we walk around. We have teams walking around today looking for more of it. We have to have volunteers. If the volunteers are present and we can match them up with meaningful work then we can continue and that will upsize or downsize. We’ve been averaging about 50 people on a given day.

‘’Then the third thing that is important is that we have the ability to have a place to lodge the people and take care of them. One of the impressive things about Selma is that we are on cots at the YMCA. We have showers. We know that the community of Selma will feed our volunteers lunch and take care of us which is an amazing piece of the community. The community taking ownership in the recovery and doing what they can which I think is really neat.”