Volunteers needed in Galveston

July 1, 2009 5:09:35 PM PDT
A second wave of volunteers is now in Galveston, helping on the road to recovery. Since Hurricane Ike, thousands of volunteers have helped rebuild more than 100 homes on the island. But despite the progress, volunteers coming to the island on Wednesday noticed there is a lot of work left to be done. In 100 degree heat, without air conditioning, volunteers aren't stopping anytime soon. One group is made up of college students from Florida. They're in Galveston for only two days.

"Right now, I'm mudding this wall so we can get it floated and ready to paint this house," said volunteer Jenny Wilkinson. "I have never actually done this before."

She is helping to rebuild Ethal Mack's home. Mack's grandfather bought the house in 1887. It survived the great storm of 1900, but Ike's damage was more than Mack could handle.

"I couldn't do anything without volunteers," said Mack. "For one thing, I have no money at all. I lost my job because Ike took out my church. I worked at a church."

The volunteers are being coordinated through an organization known as Help4Galveston. The non-profit group was formed after Ike to coordinate a massive relief effort. The first big wave of volunteers came during spring break. Now the second wave is arriving during summer break.

"The city couldn't do it without volunteers," said Dawn Graff with Help4Galveston. "It wouldn't have happened. There's not enough money. There's not enough manpower within the city.'

One group is from South Carolina. They're part of an estimated 250 volunteers in Galveston this week. However, organizers are in need of skilled labor, such as electricians, plumbers and carpenters.

"Our volunteers can do what they can do, but when it comes to specific skills, we really need a lot of help in those areas, even if it's somebody that only has one day," said Pastor Billy Graff with the University Church.

For the volunteers, they quickly notice the amount of work that needs to be done and they notice something else.

"There's a sense of hopelessness, but just coming in and giving them a sense of hope, a sense that somebody is out there that will help them," said volunteer Preston Kinney.

"If we can bring some kids in here and actually show up and start getting the work, they're gonna see that we know they're going though this and we want to help them," added volunteer Cody Podor.

Nearly a year after Ike, Pearlie Woods still isn't living in her home. Recently widowed, she just didn't know how to get the help she needed.

"I was depressed," she said. "I lost weight. I wasn't eating, couldn't sleep, but now I'm gaining weight back and I'm feeling much better."

Help4Galveston will help any homeowner with Ike damage. Meanwhile organizers estimated they have about 100 homes remaining to be repaired. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating supplies to the Galveston recovery effort can call the "Help4Galveston" hotline at 888- 425-5439

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