Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders will uplift Hurricane Ike victims over the next two years with a massive reconstruction effort
When you drive around Orange and Bridge City, Tex., the homes look like a Hollywood set, says Robert Hyneckeal, one of the leaders of The Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders program. The outsides of the houses appear perfect, as do some of the manicured yards. But open the doors to those homes, he says, and there’s nothing inside, not even plumbing or electrical wiring.
Almost every house in the area was flooded with four to six feet of saltwater as a result of Hurricane Ike. Robert estimates that there are 3,000 houses that need work, which is why Disaster ReBuilders moved its base of operations to Orange, Tex., from Biloxi, Miss., and started doing interior repair work in June.
Last week, Disaster ReBuilders spent five days fixing up five houses, including completing some of the June projects. Almost 40 volunteers from around the country worked together to paint interiors and install drywall, tiles and doors. Boys Hope sent five people from New Orleans, led by former AmeriCorp member Travis King. Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, Minn., sent 27 youths and nine adults to volunteer.
August will be a dead month for the group due to the extreme Texas heat. Starting in mid-September, Disaster ReBuilders will host 50 to 60 volunteers per week. They have so many projects on their list that they plan to stay in Orange for two years and will begin new house construction in January 2010.
Disaster ReBuilders will also bring in several AmeriCorps teams over the next two years and are continuing sponsorship of an internship program for architecture students from the University of Cincinnati. Four interns worked with the group last year. Disaster ReBuilders President Bart Tucker hopes for four more during the upcoming semester.
Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders seeks to serve the most needy homeowners, usually those well below the median household income. The group places a special emphasis on single-parent families, senior citizens and persons with serious medical conditions. Generally they serve those with no access to conventional financing.
There are still openings for volunteers in November and December and a great need for house sponsorships. More information can be found HERE, on the Fuller Center Web site, and HERE, on the Disaster ReBuilders site.