15 years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina a team of veterans built a bus to use satellite internet and run on used cooking. They filled with power tools generators chain saws and medical supplies pop up tent and a large BBQ
For four years they helped to setup multiple volunteer camps to service a vast region.
We called her “Large Marge” (referencing the female truck driver in PeeWee Herman’s Great Adventure). When she was burned to the ground it was like losing a family member.
We helped communities clear lots removed fallen trees and stayed 5 years to help a few homeowners rebuild using sustainable energy and storm resistant materials.
In 2009 we moved the Large Marge to Colorado’s Alamosa Valley elevation 8500 feet.
The first year we helped to start Veterans Green Jobs Inc. Our mission was to weatherize low income homes in 9 counties that made up the coldest communities in the country.
We also trained veterans to rebuild a log cabin fir the Carson National Forest and put teams of veterans to cut fire lines.
However in 2012, our funding was cut fir our key programs and it was time for The Veterans Green Bus to get on the road again.
We looked for s community that was cold like the alamosa Valley and messed up like New Orleans was after Katrina.
We found that Detroit Michigan had everything we were looking for and moved there in September of 2012.
Having a bus crew certified in disaster response and trained by the military to manage the medical needs of evacuees was the ticket to get on the veterans Green Bus crew.
This hard and fast rule was to be certified to deploy the bus with any Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster(VOAD).
Good think too. We were in Detroit less than a month when Team Rubicon USA requested our help to deploy to Hurricane Sandy and their first national response to a disaster.
We returned to Detroit in 2013 after a winter in a aluminum bus on Rockaway Beach that felt colder than the worst winter in Colorado.
By 2018 we had set up a permanent base of operations for the bus and partnered with different veteran and civilian volunteer organizations to train their members to demolish burned and abandoned homes, remove trees safely.
On May 5th 2018 Large Marge was burned to the ground by an arson. Since the bus was in need service it was parked at the Veterans Green Village uninsured.
To replace Large Marge and what she meant her crews over the years would be impossible.
However, the search for another bus continued until last month when we were contacted by Scott Smith another Navy veteran with a bus he wanted to sell to us and only us.
This is it. Red Skeltons’s 1960 Crown. Built with s box top and outfitted with bathroom kitchen sleeping quarters and lounge seating. It was given a $300,000 restoration and upgraded 10 years ago by the movie industry.
Sold to a veteran who wanted it for recreation but found that parking a 40ft school bus in Huntington Beach, Ca is impossible.
He rented it back to the movie industry and they had an accident leaving the veteran to find the shop to make the repairs.
While mechanically sound the body needs new front panels, lights, a couple of hydraulic lines, windshields, and bumper.
We are raising the money to buy the bus now. Then we will have another funding cycle to pay for the repairs.
Once she is on the road, Large Marge 2.0 will take veterans to disasters, training and participate in public events to demonstrate sustainable disaster response and rebuilding technologies.