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Local woman helps with hurricane relief in St. Thomas

Posted at 4:24 PM, Sep 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-03 20:18:21-04

After Hurricane Harvey, people from all over offered a helping hand. Keyanna Ortiz-Cedeno says seeing all the volunteers made her want to do more.

So she spent her summer paying it forward, helping those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Ortiz-Cedeno volunteers regularly. When Hurricane Harvey hit her home in Portland, it convinced her for the need for disaster relief and assistance.

Ortiz-Cedeno teamed up with All Hands and Hearts, a non-profit organization that sends volunteers around the world to help with major disasters.

“It was a really amazing experience being able juxtapose my experience here with the rebuilding efforts we have and those going on in St. Thomas,” she said.

For the last month and a half, Ortiz-Cedeno has been working alongside other volunteers in St. Thomas. The area is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, an area hit hard by not one, but two major hurricanes back-to-back.

“Multiple people whose homes I was working on had just lost people in their family or their family members were sick because of the mold they had,” she said.

Ortiz-Cedeno says the conditions of the homes, schools and businesses were unlivable, but families had no where else to go.

Through sharing her experience, she hopes that others see that help is still badly needed.

“The more people who talk about where people are at and long-term recovery process, the more awareness, the more volunteers and donations are able to reach the people who are still struggling,” she said.

All Hands and Hearts has also been helping the Coastal Bend recover from Hurricane Harvey. They’re currently assisting others with drywall removal, mold sanitation, debris removal or any other interior non-structural repairs. Their work is provided free.

To volunteer or if you need help, visit their website: