ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As cleanup continues for folks near the gulf coast who were hit hard by hurricanes, New Mexicans are pitching in to help. For these men, helping others rebuild is personal to them.
When Hurricane Laura tore through Lake Charles, Louisiana, bringing 150 mile per hour winds with it, co-owners of All Around Tree Company, Joshua Melendrez and Lawrence Jaramillo, knew they had to help. They wanted to help the people there, which included Jaramillo’s cousin. “This is his third hurricane he’s been through since he’s lived out here and he said this one’s one of the worst ones,” Jaramillo said.
Luckily, Hurricane Sally missed them last week since there was still a lot of cleanup work to do. The company co-owners and two employees made the almost 1,000-mile drive on Monday and have been busy working ever since. “It’s heartbreaking it really is to see what happened to these people’s houses,” Melendrez said. “I mean there’s buildings that look like a bomb went off inside, it’s pretty devastating to see,” Jaramillo said.
For them, it’s important to help others rebuild their lives since others have helped them rebuild their own. “We were both in prison, and we met in prison. And we were doing the IWC program at the level one, which is inmate workers’ camp,” Jaramillo said.
While in prison in Los Lunas, they learned about wildfires and forestry. The two started the business at the beginning of the year and said it’s more than just an income.
“For myself, it’s like a pay it forward type deal. It’s, very humbling. I can say that. ‘Cause [sic], I’ve done a lot of bad in my past and it’s just time to give back,” Jaramillo said. “You know, we got a second chance, so why can’t we give back to the community in Albuquerque or out here or anywhere in the country,” Melendrez said.
All Around Forestry isn’t totally on its own. It’s thanking past customers, family, and neighbors for donating food and water to them for the trip. The crew doesn’t know how long they’ll stay in Louisiana but say they’re packed for at least a month. They’re also working to get more employees to Louisiana to help clean up.
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