It’s been almost half a year since hurricane Harvey hit the Coastal Bend. Many volunteers have come and gone, but one group has been here since September.
All Hands and Hearts is a volunteer organization that helps disaster victims around the world. After the storm, thousands of volunteers came to South Texas to lend a hand. Now, there are about 40 All Hands and Hearts volunteers helping with recovery efforts in Aransas Pass and Rockport.
The volunteers help homeowners with things like debris removal, mucking and gutting homes, and mold sanitation.
Jake Reyes of Rockport, is one homeowner the volunteers helped. Reyes was displaced after the hurricane because of damages to his home. He has since been living in an apartment in Rockport.
Reyes said he wants to move back into his home one day, but for medical reasons, he hasn’t been able to make repairs himself.
“I’m really, really happy with these people that helped me,” Reyes said. “I want to stay here, this is my home.”
The volunteers come from all over the country. Some even come from across the world.
Stella Chalila, is from Zimbabwe, and is volunteering her time here. She said this is her first trip to the United States.
“I didn’t know what the Coastal Bend was,” Chalila said.
Chalila said after hurricane Harvey hit, she saw news coverage on TV from the storm. She wanted to be a part of the recovery effort, before she pursues her master’s degree in disaster management in September.
“Some of their [homeowners] stories are so touching, and so emotional,” Chalila said, “we just give them hope that everything will be okay.”
Other volunteers like Chalila say their experience has been nothing short of eye-opening. Volunteer and team leader Colin Crookston from California, said the work he has been able to do during his stay, has been rewarding.
“It’s really puts into perspective, like for me, the problems that I thought were a big year or two ago, are nothing.”
The organization plans to stay in the area to assist with recovery efforts for two years.