SUFFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sounds of demolition echoed through the air as USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Sailors helped tear down two homes during a community relations (COMREL) project Aug. 27 in Suffolk, Va.
Last April, disaster struck hard when a tornado touched down, damaging homes and causing some to be condemned. Four months later, neighborhoods are still trying to clean up and move on.
Ens. Maximiliano Pino of combat systems department, a Truman COMREL coordinator, lives in Suffolk. Through his local church, he learned of some neighbors who needed help. Pino said the approximate 60 Sailors who volunteered were exactly what he needed.
"I think it's going well," Pino said. "We're looking through the building which we weren't doing when we got here, and there's a big pile of stuff on the side of the road that needs to be picked up."
Pino emphasized the importance of Sailors participating in community relations events because they help the cause as well as the Sailors themselves.
"We are gone quite a bit, but it's very good for us to come home to our own people and take care of our own folks and to show them that we're people too and we care," Pino said. "We're out here doing good things."
Sailors took apart and removed everything they could within reasonable safety. The physical labor of demolishing walls and ripping apart floors gave Sailors a chance to do something different for a day.
"Us taking time out from our regular job and coming out and helping in the community shows what we're really capable of, that we can give a helping hand," said Airman Terence Emmanuel, one of Truman's volunteers. "I had fun. We had fun. Everybody enjoyed themselves, and it was a plus at the end of the day."
As Sailors literally brought down the roof at the event, Barbara Chappell, one of the homeowners who had her home demolished, welcomed the destruction.
"Oh, it's a blessing. I'm actually crying happy tears," Chappell said. "You just can't go day to day and take it lightly. People need to think about what they have and think of it as a blessing."
Pino said participating in community relations events provides nothing but positive effects for everybody involved.
"If you guys get the opportunity to do a COMREL, join on and make sure that you do your part and good things will come," Pino said.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.