Rush to rebuild before fallen officer memorial

Harlem nonoprofit

The volunteers at a nonprofit in Harlem are having to work to fix their roads after they were damaged in Saturday's storm. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 13, 2012)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012

HARLEM, Ga. -- "You want to sit down and cry. You really do. I mean we literally sat here yesterday and watched it wash away," said Feathered Friends Forever CEO and Founder Ron Johnson.

What were perfectly level roads are now craters and gullies after heavy rains drenched Harlem, Ga., on Saturday.

"Your arms are too short to box with Mother Nature; it's gonna happen. We've just got a lot of work to do in the next four days," said full-time volunteer Bob Courtwright.

It's not just the flooding that makes this so devastating. They were preparing for a special event.

"We're preparing for the J.D. Paugh's fallen officer memorial. We've been grading, making parking places, planting grass, and generally trying to fix up an area for the hundreds of people that are going to come visit," Courtwright said.

You'll remember, Paugh was killed in the line of duty last October, and these roads were going to lead people to a memorial service in honor of him and other fallen heroes, but right now nobody can get down the hill.

"My food vendors can't get in, my DJ can't get in until we get the roads fixed ... again," Johnson said.

The memorial is still scheduled for next Saturday, but they have a long road before their roads are ready for travel.

"It's disheartening, but we can't control Mother Nature. We just have to step back, sit down, stand up and rebuild it in four days," Johnson said.

They're determined to get it done. Their motivation? Deputy Paugh.

"He was a motorcycle rider, which all of my Board of Directors and myself included are also motorcycle riders," Johnson said.

"We've made a promise that we're gonna do this event in honor of J.D. and in honor of the other fallen heroes, and it's our job just to make it happen," Courtwright said.

The reserve only has three full-time volunteers, and they need your help. The cost of replacing the gravel alone is about $5,000, and they're expecting to work sun up until sundown every day until the memorial.

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