Local volunteer makes disaster relief part of his retirement

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Of all the places you could go when you retire, disaster zones are the type of places Bernie Behounek is choosing to spend part of his golden years.

"I like helping people out, I like working with people," Behounek said.

And it is that passion for others he says draws him to pack his bags, grab his boots at a moment’s notice and be in someplace completely different.

He left for Colorado at 6 a.m. on Thursday.

"This is a long project for them because in flooding situations it takes a long time to get their house liveable," he said.

He will work the front lines, helping people who could be at one of the lowest points of their lives.

"Working with individual people who have been victims of the floods, it's pretty tough to handle sometimes," he said.

Hooking them up with other organizations to rebuild their homes and their lives. But it is something that is not new to him. He has been deployed to six other disasters. His first was right here in Western Wisconsin.

"Arcadia was flooded out and we were there for that," he said.

The images are nothing new to him. But every place he goes, he says there is a shock that hits you at first.

"In reality there's a lot of devastation, it's unreal, it is, you can't imagine what those people go through," he said.

But he has no plans to neither hang up his hat nor put away his bag and boots anytime soon.

"Plan on keep on doing it as long as I can," he said.

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