In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and massive flooding, Houston people continue to amaze and gather together to help rebuild our beautiful city. I’ve been very involved in the relief efforts and been doing what I can to contribute my time to give back to the community from documenting the damage, volunteering at GRB to serving at the Houston Food Bank.
This past weekend, I had another intimate look into the recovery process in Houston and the true devastation that the flooding from Harvey caused. On Saturday morning, I trekked out to Canyon Gate out in Cinco Ranch where a few of my coworkers houses had been decimated by the flood waters. At 9am, I was confused why I hit standstill traffic in this Katy neighborhood, only to realize that everyone and their mother (literally) was heading into this neighborhood to help repair it.
Canyon Gate is one of the many neighborhoods that had multiple feet of water rush into people’s homes. Basically anything that was touched by the flood water is contaminated and has to get thrown out and the house has to get mucked (I did not make up this terminology). That means people need to toss out everything from furniture to appliances to flooring and dry wall.
It’s sweaty and messy, but definitely necessary to salvage what’s left of the flooded homes. The work is rather physical and I was on my feet all day kicking in dry wall, filling up wheel barrows with debris, and trashing belongings. This website has a bunch of good resources on the proper muck tools and procedures.
What moved me most during the weekend was the incredible amount of support that people were giving to the people of Canyon Gate. The roads were packed with cars lining the streets and double parking in cul-de-sacs and illegally across medians. Every house had a whole team of people in it doing hard labor. The neighborhood was so packed, I didn’t have cell service all day–like I was at a big concert event or something because there were so many people in one small space. Neighbors were walking down the blocks handing out water bottles and sharing boxes of pizza. One guy had a big barbeque cooker out there and was making people meals. If I had a food truck *cough anyone with a food truck* I’d definitely drive around and hand out snacks to people working.
The Church of Latter Day Saints were definitely one of the stars of the day and had hundreds of people going around in packs of yellow shirts chiseling out tile and ripping out carpets, moving from house to house like a highly effective swarm of worker bees. They made appearances in both the houses that I worked in and made such a difference!
If you want to volunteer and help muck a neighbor’s house, check out this map from Sketch City to connect yourself with homeowners needing volunteers. As flooding goes down in new neighborhoods, extra set of hands will definitely be needed.
Here are some things to keep in mind before you go:
- Wear jeans / work pants you don’t mind getting dirty
- Wear closed toed shoes — rainboots and work boots are good (I wore gym shoes and was fine, but wish I had rain boots when we hosed out the house)
- Apply bug spray
- Take personal safety seriously – wear eye protection, face masks, and gloves at all times
- Drink plenty of water – it’s still hot in Houston! Although, beware you might not have a legit place to use the bathroom.
- Wheelbarrows and wagons are clutch for hauling debris
It takes a village to rebuild a city and there’s plenty of ways to get involved in the Houston recovery efforts.
Given the outpouring of support that I witnessed in Canyon Gate, it’s pretty clear that Houston isn’t mucking around. #HoustonStrong