Volunteers gut once-flooded homes in northeast Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- On North Spicewood Lane, the street is flanked by mounds of debris, more aftermath of the floods one month ago. Mobile homes make up the neighborhood, and most of them are now empty.

Life is returning to the area, as teams "muck and gut" the dwellings, all part of All Hands Volunteers.

It's a disaster recovery non-profit, based in the US, but it responds to catastrophic natural disaster across the globe. It was launched a decade ago, following the deadly tsunami in southeast Asia.

"This is a neighborhood where FEMA has yet to visit," said project director Brandon Baird.

On Sunday, Southwest Airlines provided employee volunteers who tore out sheetrock and insulation weeks after the area was inundated. All Hands transforms people into trained labor equipped to handle basic deconstruction of homes post-disaster.

"That way they can do it right," he said. "Help the homeowner out and make sure they're doing the right work. That way the homeowner can save their money that they get from FEMA to rebuild."

160 volunteers flooded the neighborhood this weekend, using the skills they've learned on the job and using equipment from Tool Bank USA. It's another non-profit that 'leases' everything from chainsaws to hammers and even trucks to All Hands.

The volunteers are here from across the country, from the west coast to the northeast. Baird is a former firefighter from Michigan, but he's been in Houston for its last three floods, volunteering and training volunteers. Out of town teams are staying in a church.

Ricardo Martinez is one of the people benefitting from All Hands' work. He and his family fled their mobile home before the flood water took hold, intruding several feet high inside.

"My wife saw something about what they were doing and filled out the paperwork," he said.

As crews threw sheetrock out of the window, he put it into a wheel barrow.

"We're getting help and we're very grateful for that," he said.

The motto of All Hands is "rebuilding hope." That's what Ricardo Martinez said he has now.

For more information on All Hands Volunteers, click here.

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