Harvey Relief Work on the Ground

Houston Skyline by Drone

I recently got back from Houston, Texas.  I spent a week down there working with international volunteer relief organization, AllHands, who has committed to being in Houston for the next two years.  The work we were doing was related to getting people's homes ready for rebuilding and getting them back into those homes.  This process entailed a lot of not glamorous work, but you really gain perspective on where material things rank in day-to-day life.

Once the water has receded from a flooded home, priority number one is to get everything cleaned up to prevent the spread and growth of mold.  To accomplish this goal, you have to remove the contents of the home, meaning every item that was touched by water.  We were literally pulling out photo albums, bills, books, vinyl records, clothing, electronics, appliances, and having to stack them up on the street to be thrown away.  It is really a gut check seeing someone deal with and coming to terms with their possessions being piled up on the curb.

Because of the presence of mold, we had to protect ourselves most days.  This meant donning Tyvek bodysuits, respirator masks, gloves, and other protective equipment.  Every time we would break for food and water, you had to be sure to sanitize your hands to keep from getting sick.  Staying hydrated was a challenge with how much you sweat in a bodysuit and working without air conditioning.

After getting the possessions out, we then had to removed the damaged structural pieces of the house.  All of the trim work, flooring, wall covering, shelves, cabinets, and every nail used to attach them had to be pulled out.  We were building our own house as well during this process, and I found a weird symmetry to breaking down someone else's house while ours is being put together.  It makes you gain a greater appreciation for the time and effort that goes into the original construction.

I wanted to give others the opportunity to understand what the devastation and destruction looked and felt like, so I shot some footage with my drone and stabilized camera that you'll see below.

 

If you are able to help, either with your time, or financially, please do so.  Houston needs ours help, as many people lost almost everything.