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Posts Categorized: Updates

Update On Cyclone HudHud Assessment

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Cyclone Hudhud made land fall on the eastern shoreline of Andhra Pradesh, India on Sunday, October 12th, 2014. As the cyclone made its final approach to land it intensified with winds up to 205kph before making contact with the city of Visakhapatnam. The Indian authorities’ disaster preparations ensured that casualties were kept to a minimum by evacuating up to 400,000 people from affected regions.

Following an in depth multi-sector assessment the All Hands Volunteers Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) have reached the conclusion to not set up a response project for Cyclone Hudhud.

The governments response has been commendable. Fleets of heavy machinery were deployed to clear the streets. Scores of laborers employed to reconnect power and communication infrastructure and armed forces were mobilized for the immediate aftermath. On a local level, village authorities have been working to assess and calculate the damage in order to aid the affected population with grants and loans, enabling them to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

The government’s assessment is still ongoing, the data generated from the process is expected to be publish in two weeks. Even without the full picture, the resilience of the communities is apparent. Farmers have already started to clear and replant their crops, contractors have been employed to remove remaining trees from fields and families have found ways to house themselves in the short term.

We have identified specific needs for rebuilding which would follow this initial response phase. The team will continue to work with our partners on the ground to monitor the shelter situation as more information becomes available and will actively pursue the opportunity to help in the long term rebuild of the region.

The team fully applauds the efforts of local groups and government and is grateful to see an area with such resilience. We would like to give a special thanks to Vijay Andan from Habitat for Humanity, Vivek Venkat, Jignesh Talasila and all the others from Cyclone Hudhud relief camps. They were paramount in helping us conduct our assessment.

Thank you all for the support over the last 2 weeks. DART stands ready for the next assessment.

Paddy Durrant, Director of International Assessments and Response


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Announcing Project Brooklyn

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On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy struck the eastern side of the United States, bringing wide spread damage from Delaware to Rhode Island. With one of the worst storms the US has seen this decade, thousands of homeowners were left completely overwhelmed by their heavily damaged properties.

Now two years after Sandy, we are pleased to announce that we will be continuing to help those still affected by the storm. After receiving a generous grant from the Red Cross, we will be opening a new long-term recovery project in Brooklyn, NY.

We are extremely excited for this new partnership with the Red Cross and are ready to continue our Superstorm Sandy efforts in Brooklyn.

Want to volunteer on Project


Can’t make it out to volunteer?
Every dollar makes an immediate impact. Donate to our recovery efforts today.

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Big things are happening for our Founder and Chairman, David Campbell!

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Last Friday was a very big day here at All Hands!

Not only did we announce the launch of David’s website, DavidNCampbell.com, but we also announced that he is one of the winners of the Encore.org 2014 Purpose Prize Award, for which he will receive a $100,000 award (that he will generously donate back to All Hands)!

The award, now in its ninth year, was created to highlight the contributions of people in their “encore” careers who, by combining their experience with their passion for social good, solve tough social problems.

The Prize will be presented on October 28th, in Tempe, Arizona, at an event sponsored by Encore.org, and will highlight David’s achievements.

A Note From David…
“I began this work as one individual, but after putting up a virtual flag on the internet, I wound up getting hundreds, and eventually thousands, of volunteers. All of a sudden, my 40-plus years of management experience came into play, as we grew into a global organization.”

Read the full story of David’s journey leading up to this great honor in his new book “Being There” on DavidNCampbell.com.

Congratulations David! On behalf of the entire All Hands Family, we are so proud and inspired by these achievements.

See all the news coverage around David winning this great award.

The Wall Street Journal: “Gaining in Years, and Helping Others to Make Gains

Encore.org: “Six Over 60 Win $300,000 for Fighting for a Better World: The 2014 Purpose Prize

MarketWatch: “How a tech CEO became a master of disaster relief

Huffington Post: “Authenticity And Reinvention: Two Boomers Making An Impact In Encore Careers

Forbes: “Purpose Prize Winners: Doing Great Work After 60

Philanthropy Today, The Chronicle Of Philanthropy: “Purpose Prize Honors Six Over 60 For Nonprofit Work

The Arizona Republic: “Awards in Tempe to dole out $300k for good deeds


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Cyclone HudHud Assessment

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Our Disaster Assessment Response Team (DART) is currently en route to India to begin surveying the damage caused by Cyclone Hudhud. The team have been remotely assessing and communicating with partners on the ground since the Cyclone passed through the State of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday 12th October bringing in wind speeds of 205 kph. The team will be arriving shortly in Visakhapatnam which is the city that sustained the most damage.

Paddy Durrant, Director of International Assessments and Disaster Response for All Hands Volunteers has applauded the evacuation efforts of the region.

“…The government’s ability to evacuate over 400,000 people in 3 days was highly commendable and helped save thousands of lives, a true testament in the power of effective disaster preparedness…”

Reports from the joint inter-agency of various NGOs state that over 920,000 people have been directly affected with substantial damage to infrastructure, crops, loss of assets, livelihoods and damage to property. “DART” will begin assessing with local partners on the ground to determine the needs of the communities and to see if All Hands Volunteers can bring assistance to those families most affected.

We will update over the next coming days on the team’s progress and findings. Please join us in wishing the team the best of luck as they begin their work in India.

Interested in being the first to know more about our India response? Sign up HERE and will keep you informed as we go!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on our India assessment

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Project Leyte – 83C Progressive Core Homes

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Project Leyte – 83C Progressive Core Homes

When Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) made landfall, 1.1 houses were partially damaged or destroyed. Whilst the families living in the ‘no build’ zones were considered for relocation by the city and are slowly being moved to transitional shelters or bunk houses,  those living outside the ‘no build zone’ didn’t have this option. They have very little in the way of finances, have likely lost out on much of their livelihood, and don’t have enough money, manpower, or even the willpower to rebuild for themselves.

After recognising this need and having the experience of building transitional shelters in both Santo Nino and Tagpuro, AHV decided to develop a pilot core housing program. Barangay 83-C was one of the hardest hit and we have focused our efforts here.

After extensive assessments, we selected two families who we believed needed these homes the most. These families are the Garcia family, made up of Oliver, Cindy and their four sons and the Pedrosa family, made up of Marvin, Alona and their four daughters. They were both living in make shift shacks.

When I was thinking how I would showcase the rebuild of the first two progressive homes I wasn’t sure which direction the project would take. Then I started to spend some time within the community of Barangay 83C. I began to talk to the home owners, play with their kids and sit with their neighbours; the women whilst they hand washed clothes and the men as they cut down banana leaves. I started to photograph them, tell them about myself and allow them to slowly open up to me.

By simply spending an hour of my day with them and watching the volunteers work with the families and local carpenters I saw that rebuild is not just hammering wood together and creating a house, it is so much more. Rebuild encompasses education, employment, training, community, sustainability, education and welfare. I asked everyone involved in the rebuild of the two homes some questions on the importance of rebuilding back into the community.

Izzy Smith   |   Pedrosa Team Leader

Why is rebuilding back in the community important to you?

“By rebuilding within the communities we are helping keep families and friends together. Community is bigger than the houses we are building. The coolest thing is the ownership we are giving to the families”.

How has it been working along side the Filipino carpenters?

“The care that the Filipino workers give is incredible. Marvin, the home owner, is actually an amazing carpenter. It seems necessity breeds ingenuity. It breeds invention.

The best thing about Filipino carpenters is their taste in music”.

I saw her joking with the local carpenter, Adore so I asked if they were friends.

“It’s amazing how he agrees, but never actually does what I say”.

Adore laughed, then they hugged.

Only one week into the project and I could already see strong bonds building between everyone involved, particularly between the team leader Izzy and the local carpenters.

Rene   |   Carpenter

How would you compare your first week of the project to now?

“I didn’t know the volunteers so at first I was nervous, but now we are like family. We work together every day, listen to each other, tell each other when we are doing something wrong”.

Do you ever do anything wrong?

“No”. He looks around.

“Only Izzy does things wrong”. He laughs.

“We are always training to build better. I teach the volunteers Filipino style and they teach us their ways”.

Clifford   |   Technical Support

Why do you think it’s important that we’re here?

“To make sure the standards are kept high. There needs to be responsibility if something goes wrong and we are that. We regulate breaks, deliveries, as well as maintaining high standards”.

Do you learn anything from the local carpenters?

“Absolutely. I learn methods. Without using power tools we’re back to basics and using our bodies, rather than the tools we’ve become accustomed to”.

Boy   |   Carpenter

Did you think you would learn anything from this project?

“No. I have been building since I was a kid so I know a lot”.

Have you learnt anything?

“I have learnt many things. We learn new ways, new techniques. I learnt why we are doing certain practices. By being taught why we are trying  new ways I have learnt the importance of building back stronger. Now I can teach my kids that these techniques will protect us from winds in the future”.

Ana   |   Long Term Volunteer

Can you tell us a bit about the Pedrosa family?

“The Pedrosa family are made up of Melvin and Alona. Their great, they are a really lovely couple, they are always helping around the place. Alona’s sweeping all the time and Marvin is really hands on, always carrying buckets and shovelling, he’s really cool. It’s a really nice family”.

What do you love about this project?

“I love this project in particular because we’re surrounded by kids, we’re in the community, we’re by the wells with banana leaves. It’s just adorable and lovely and smiles and happiness all around”.

Tonja   |   Program Coordinator

What do you bring personally to the project?

“Workers and the community are always asking questions about why we are doing what we are doing. We are not just building, we are teaching about pollution and sustainability. I teach Oliver why we do each stage. It’s amazing because Oliver is always on site working hard and you can tell he’s so excited to be learning”.

Marvin   |   Pedrosa Home Owner

“We lived in the house for 13 years. There was nothing there before. I built it myself and I was proud of it. I asked Tonja if I could keep the concrete slab that was still there because I had made it. It added a days work of changing planning, but she kept it because she knew it was important to me”.

What was your favourite thing about your house?

“I really liked the big room”.

Oliver   |   Garcia Home Owner

Why did you stay here after the typhoon?

“We lost everything. We didn’t have money to travel anywhere to be safe”.

Is it important that you stay in 83C?

“Yes. This is our neighbourhood and our children’s home. Our neighbours are like family. Our children go to school here. Our jobs are here. If we leave the city we leave our opportunities”.

Izzy says your a great carpenter. How is it working with the volunteers?

“A lot of Filipino’s know carpentry. The volunteers are great, the girls are so strong and all of them are so good with our children. Every day our children are so excited to know the volunteers are coming. I like that they are practicing English with them too. Sometimes the children try to teach them our dialect”.

Cindy   |   Garcia Home Owner

Is this where you live?

“Yes. We built it after we lost our home”.

How many of you live here?

“Me, Oliver and our four sons”.

What do you want for your boys?

“I want them to have a better life than I had”.

Sol   |   Garcia Team Leader

Why is it important to build back into the community?

“This is where their lives are, where their livelihood, friends and family are. Also, maybe this is a coincidence, but since we started building we could see the positive impact in the community. At least three more houses have been built after we started”.

Who has been the best person to work with?

It’s not about one person. It’s about the team for the day. I really enjoy when everybody is on the same page, also with great camaraderie where you can joke without neglecting the work. When teams click and work together. That’s my favourite days”.

What has been the best part of 83C for you?

“How much I learnt. But the best thing was seeing how Oliver and Cindy transformed the house into a home”.

Adore   |   Lead Carpenter

How did you join All Hands?

“I was originally hired by All Hands and IOM to build homes in Tagpuro. We built many strong homes together. Laurence said he would recommend me to All Hands and tell them the work I had done. I did a good job so they employed me again. They rehired my friends also from working at Tagpuro. Now when I’m not working at 83C I am helping around All Hands base, fixing tools, lights and doors with the volunteers”.

How is your relationship with the volunteers?

“They are like my children and I am their father”.

Rojer   |   Carpenter

Why do you like All Hands?

“I have six children. Six girls. All Hands gives me a break from them”. He laughs a lot.

I asked him about Tagpuro. This is the project All Hands first employed him for.

“Even though I actually loved the sense of community, working along side all of my carpenter friends in Tagpuro, I think it’s nice to work with the home owner on this project and know the person I’m building the house for. We are with the children who will move in, the children admire the volunteers”.

Joanna   |   Garcia Neighbour

I started calling Team Leader, Sol ‘Mama Sol’ in front of the children because she always told them off when they came too close to the machinery. I asked one of the girls about the female volunteers.

“Mama Sol is so strong! She carries more wood than the men”.

Do you like having the volunteers around?

“I like it. They play with us when they are not working. Mama Sol is always telling us to be safe”.

Pedrosa Neighbours  |  Barangay 83C

Do you speak with the volunteers?

“We see them working hard every day, but we don’t speak to them because we are shy”.

You can practice English with the volunteers.

“Really? We’d like that”.

Joanna   |   Garcia Neighbour

Who is this?

“She is my neighbour and my best friend”.

If you moved, would you forget her?

“I could never forget her or leave her”.

Garcia Children | Barangay 83C

I spent an hour with the Garcia children and their friends flying kites. Are the boys good at flying kites?

“No. I am the best”.

During this project we attended a ‘Build Back Better’ talk with IOM (International Organisation for Migration). 

They have set up the Build Back Better Campaign and are educating Tacloban in a beautiful way. 

After the presentation I caught up with some of the IOM staff.

Laurence   |   IOM Shelter Officer

You kept talking about triangles during your presentation? Why?

“One of the first lectures I had in architecture our professor highlighted the roof trusses and formwork in a newly designed Arts Centre. He pointed out the triangular forms in these elements and ever since I have been looking at construction differently. Triangle are prevalent everywhere in structure not just construction but in nature in carbon atoms. The main aim is to do more with less, triangles assist us in making very strong transitional shelters by triangular bracing of walls and roofs”.

Build Back Better Trainer   |   IOM

So your job is to train local carpenters in building back better?

“Yes. I teach them, then they teach their friends, employees, children who then teach the next group. It’s like a growing spider web of education”.

What do you teach the carpenters?

“The way you hit a nail in can be the difference between it blowing away and staying strong. With these little techniques you can learn to build back safer”.

Mama D   |   IOM

Mama D, how did you get involved in this programme?

“It’s my passion to reach out to people in need. We have a lot of disasters in the Philippines so a lot of people work in disaster relief”.


We didn’t want to stop at 2 houses, so on November 10th six volunteers are cycling seven days across the islands of Leyte and Samar, following the path of Super Typhoon Haiyan to give a voice to those affected and show the destruction that exists one year on. They are doing this to raise money to continue the build of core homes. 100% of the money raised will go directly to building homes to those who need it the most. Support them on their mission here www.justgiving.com/riseuprideon/


Article written by Chloe Lyttle  |  Multimedia Producer  |  All Hands Volunteers


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Meet Pam Tabb: Project Detroit

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Pam TabbPam on her porch.

Last month, severe storms flooded the city of Detroit leaving many homeowners like Pam Tabb in complete disarray. In the 70 years her family has lived in their home they have never experienced anything like this: “We were sitting on the porch watching the rain come down when I saw it bubbling up in the street and over the sidewalk.” Pam, who has a hard time walking, called out to her son-in-law to go and check the basement, “I heard him yell, Mama, it’s flooding!” Pam was in disbelief until her daughter confirmed that the basement was indeed completely flooded. Over two feet of water had come up through the drain on the floor creating a sea of debris and destroying everything in sight.

In the days after the flood Pam, and the eight members of her family that live with her, struggled with what to do in order to fix the situation. After a failed attempt to drain the basement of water and numerous unreturned phone calls to the city asking for help, she finally received the number for the disaster recovery hotline (211). “I called and spoke to someone who said they would send out a team to help. A day later (All Hands Field Coordinator) Jon was here to see how they could help.”

Within a week, volunteers were sent to her home to sort through her damaged possessions and remove the walls of her finished basement before mold and other toxins became real health hazards. After the last bit of possessions were removed from her home, Pam sat on her front porch smiling,  “I can’t thank these (volunteers) enough, they not only did they do all the work in just one morning but they were able to find and save the last of my mother’s possessions. I’ll never forget them.”

There are many homeowners like Pam and her family in Detroit that still need our help.

To help families like Pam’s, volunteer or donate on Project Detroit.

Pam TabbPam’s basement one month after the floods

Pam TabbThe team after they finished cleaning Pam’s basement.

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Project Leyte: Looking Back

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When I was on project we spent a lot of time working in the coastal barangays of downtown Tacloban deconstructing destroyed homes and debris. Eventually, the locals began to recognize the bands of roving AHV volunteers in mismatched socks and bandanas, carrying tools to the next work site. They would always smile and wave at us as we trudged past. It made me feel at home in the moonscape of downtown Tacloban, where huge piles of rock and rubble were more common than intact homes.

To say that I miss Tacloban and Project Leyte is an understatement. When I returned to Berkeley, CA, to the comfortable routine of my job and seeing friends and family, I assumed my memories of Tacloban would slowly fade into the depths of my memory. Months later and the nostalgia for my time volunteering with AHV is still as painful as when I boarded my plane back to the States, silently wiping tears on the hem of my Project Leyte t-shirt as I walked through the gate.

I long for my fellow volunteers and the work we devoted ourselves to. I crave the rewarding ache of my muscles at the end of a workday and the ease with which I tumbled into a deep, well-earned sleep each night. It was during those long, hot days that I learned the true meaning of hard work and gratitude.

I remember working on a site where the family cooked us a hot meal for lunch the first day we were there. We happily ate it but politely told them we couldn’t accept lunches from them again for fear that they were depleting their own scarce resources by cooking for us. The next day, the husband of the family, Edgar, served us cold cokes and pastries during our break time. He ignored our polite declines, placed the snacks in front of us and said with finality: “Yes. It’s the least we can do.”

For us volunteers, the feelings of gratitude were mutual. We might have cleared their properties but they let us into the deepest, darkest corners of their souls by talking of the deaths they experienced during the storm or the hardships they faced moving forward in their lives. I remember a man named Andy telling us about his 4-year-old daughter’s fear of “big waves” ever since the storm surge demolished their home. He looked haunted when he shared this insight, like he couldn’t figure out how to assuage her fears. It felt like too little to say ‘thank you for sharing’ in response to his story, so we didn’t. Instead, we kept shoveling until Andy’s back patio was cleared of rubble and he was able to walk through it unobstructed, a look of delight on his face.

Gratitude is what I left with when I packed my backpack and walked out of base for the last time, determined not to cry in front of the family of volunteers waving me off. Gratitude is what I’m left with as I sit here, far away from the ravaged beauty of Tacloban, thinking of the Filipino people rising above the destruction and moving forward. I am grateful to have contributed a small effort to rebuilding their great city. Tindog Tacloban.

By Ariel Neidermeier | Project Leyte Volunteer (March – May 2014)

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All Hands Partnerships: ToolBank Disaster Services

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We’d like to take a few minutes to salute our partner, ToolBank USA/ToolBank Disaster Services. All Hands’ first introduction to ToolBank was during our spring tornado response in Mayflower, Arkansas. ToolBank was coordinating with one of our other partner organizations, Team Rubicon, to distribute tools to the thousands of volunteers that came through the VRC (Volunteer Reception Center). “Arkansas was the first time I was able to meet Sherry [Buresh, AHV Director of US Response] and she was finally able to see our mobile unit.” says Matt Walenciak, Director of Disaster Services for ToolBank.

When the sister tornadoes hit Pilger, Nebraska a few weeks later, Matt was one of Sherry’s first calls. He and his mobile unit arrived within days of our assessment team hitting the ground. “I really think Pilger was one of our best deployments to date; it was one of the best opportunities for us since we were able to position the mobile unit right in the middle of the village, next to All Hands and the VRC. When volunteers came in, they checked in and then were sent over for tools and safety training. It was so quick and extremely efficient.”

ToolBank started in Atlanta over 20 years ago as an organization that loaned tools to other organizations – schools, non-profits and government agencies – in the hopes that with tools, the organizations could further their own missions to restore, renovate or rebuild communities by tapping into the power of volunteers. Just 5 years ago, they expanded their mission and founded ToolBank USA, with the aim of creating ToolBanks in cities all across the U.S., including places like Baltimore, Cincinnati and Charlotte.

However, they quickly realized that bricks and mortar offices were only part of the equation. In order to be as effective as possible, they decided they would have to go mobile – and go mobile in a big way. As of January 2014, ToolBank USA became a deployable unit comprised of a 53ft car haul that holds over 4,000 tools, with more than 75 types of basic tools that can be used during disaster response. In the short 9 months since going mobile, they have been on 3 deployments: Mayflower, Arkansas; Pilger, Nebraska; and Detroit, Michigan, where All Hands and ToolBank are once again working together, along with other groups like Nechama and IsraAID.

In the coming year ToolBank will be opening four more offices in the U.S. and, hopefully, building out additional mobile units so they can help as many different organizations in as many different communities as needed.

Matt calls our partnership a “harmonious one” and says, “All Hands has a lot of experience in disaster services and has the ability to call in a lot of volunteers, both your own and through the coordination of spontaneous volunteers…one of the things that AHV is often in need of is the tools, and that’s where we come in. It’s a great partnership.”

We couldn’t agree more. Thanks to Matt and ToolBank – it’s always great working with you!

For more information on ToolBank USA or ToolBank Disaster Services, go to: toolbank.org.

Matt Walenciak, Director of Disaster Services

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Project Pilger: The Recap

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On June 16th, rare sister tornadoes ripped though Pilger, Nebraska destroying 80% of the village and injuring many. Within 24 hours the All Hands team was on the ground, assessing how best to help the affected community. Within 48 hours we had a small team assembled and ready to work. We partnered with organizations such as Southern Baptist Disaster Response and ToolBank Disaster Services to coordinate volunteers and worksites, conduct safety demonstrations, and distribute tools to thousands of volunteers that were coming from miles around to help.

Over the course of the two-week project, we focused on coordinating and leading the spontaneous volunteers that were pouring in to Pilger. Within the first five days, All Hands helped lead over 2,000 people. Thanks to these volunteers, we sorted through homeowners’ possessions and salvaged anything of value. We removed debris and sorted the material into piles to be taken to the local dump. We demolished unsafe structures to help homeowners move to the next stage of recovery. In our two weeks in Pilger, a total of 2,943 All Hands-coordinated volunteers completed work on 35 sites and removed debris in over three-quarters of the village.

This major response effort was made possible through the support of the Pilger community and the hard work and dedication of the volunteers that came ready to do whatever needed to be done. Thanks to each and every one of you for helping the people and village of Pilger, NE move one step closer to rebuilding their lives.

– Jen Weinstein and Rachel Sawyer, Communications

Project Pilger – The Statistics
Total Volunteers: 2,943
Total Volunteer Days: 3,099
Total Volunteer Hours: 16,087
Properties completed: 35

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Meet the Hargroves: Project Detroit

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PDT-HargrovesThe AHV team with Lynn, Mark and Wyatt Hargrove

When Lynn Hargrove heard on the news that Detroit was flooding, she ran to check her basement to see if there was any damage. What she found was that over a foot and a half of water had rushed in, ruining everything in her son’s basement-floor bedroom and all of her husband’s memorabilia from the past 22 years.

Lynn, who suffers from a bad back, and her husband Mark, who just had a full knee replacement, live in their suburban Detroit home with their son, daughter and 3 grandchildren. When the water finally subsided and they saw the extent of the damage, they were overwhelmed with the amount of work they had in front of them. “We didn’t know what to do, and then we heard about All Hands Volunteers and the work you were doing.”

The Hargroves learned about All Hands from their pastor at The Woods Church, the church that generously agreed to house AHV staff and volunteers on Project Detroit. “They said you would be able to help us, I signed up and the next day someone called.” Within a day, All Hands sent a team of volunteers to start removing debris and possessions from their home. “Our debris pile has tripled in the past 3 weeks. I can’t wait until my sidewalk looks normal again on trash day, but we could not have done this without your help.”

The road to recovery is going to be long and hard for the Hargroves. They will need to rebuild what was once a finished basement; but they are certain that one day they will have the house they had prior to the flooding a few weeks ago.

To help families like the Hargroves, volunteer or donate on Project Detroit.

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