The following blog was provided to us by All Hands and Hearts, beneficiary of our 2020 Humanist Disaster Recovery appeal responding to Hurricanes Laura and Sally.


All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) is honored to be selected as Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB)’s featured Hurricane Recovery 2020 Appeal beneficiary. AHAH and FBB have partnered since 2016, and the recent devastation that Hurricane Laura caused in Texas and Louisiana shows how AHAH can only continue our vital disaster relief work with partners like FBB by our side. We welcome you to make a contribution, so we can assist communities with immediate needs and through long-term recovery.

Too often, following a natural disaster, communities are overwhelmed with short-term aid and then quickly abandoned with no meaningful long-term solutions. At AHAH, we pride ourselves on our commitment to arrive early and stay late, working with the community, our volunteers and our partners to implement ‘Smart Response’ — a tangible, transparent and resilient rebuilding strategy that enables lasting community strength.

When natural disasters strike, we immediately respond to help families put the pieces back together and rise stronger. We begin by carefully listening to the community to identify its greatest needs and ta  ilor our plans accordingly. Our volunteer teams engage in activities like mucking and gutting after a flood, rubbling after an earthquake, or tree and debris removal after a tornado. Where needed, we make long-term commitments to repair and rebuild disaster-resilient homes, schools and other infrastructure. With a long-term plan in place, we welcome volunteers from around the globe and via on-site training, enable them to complete the work safely and effectively. When Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Texas/Louisiana border as one of the most powerful lstorms in modern United States history, our Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) quickly deployed. Within two days, our team was on the ground to assess the damage and determine the most impactful course of action to follow. We launched our Hurricane Laura Relief program to provide assistance to the affected communities within the framework of our new operational adaptations and standards to promote a safe environment, appropriate for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

400_Hurricane Laura_DART_Damage_9_08.29.20AHAH assists communities where no other resources are available. This often includes smaller towns that do not receive as much attention as larger cities, yet have significant unmet needs. In response to Hurricane Laura, our team is building a work queue of high priority cases and beginning work in Jasper County and Newton County in Texas as well as Beauregard Parish and Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana. We are starting with chainsaw work to remove downed trees and will soon expand our scope of work to include roof tarping, mucking and gutting, and mold sanitation. If we can secure the necessary funding, we plan to stay for up to two years to help the affected communities rebuild.

This is not the first time that AHAH has responded to disasters in Texas and Louisiana with FBB and its incredible network alongside us. With FBB’s financial and volunteer support, AHAH provided assistance following the 2016 flooding in Louisiana, and we are still assisting communities in Texas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. After a six-month suspension of our volunteer-powered operations due to COVID-19, we will reopen our Texas Hurricane Relief program in early October and fulfill our three year commitment to the Coastal Bend region, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Our volunteer teams, led by skilled site supervisors, will continue transforming damaged houses into safe, functional, disaster-resilient homes, targeting the most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, disabled, veterans, single parents and immigrants. We will use our hard-earned expertise, from 15 years of disaster relief experience, to continue helping people like Evelyn , Julio , Linda and Joanie.

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In addition to our Response and Recovery activities , we also create and implement Renewal projects, based on the unique needs of the communities we serve, to engage community members and build capacity, allowing them to rebuild stronger than before. In the Coastal Bend, for example, our volunteers and staff have participated in highway clean-ups through our partnership with Keep Aransas Beautiful. We also regularly invite homeowners, like Francis , to join volunteers and staff for dinner at our residential base and share their stories.

Over the years, our volunteers and staff alike have developed strong connections to communities in Texas and Louisiana. We care deeply for them, and as parts of Texas and Louisiana face the impacts of yet another devastating disaster, we will continue to be there for them and ensure they receive the critical assistance needed to recover. We are poised to commit for the long-term. By donating to FBB’s campaign today, you can help us serve our mission. Thank you for your consideration.

 

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The Humanist Disaster Recovery program is sustained through a partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association (AHA). We thank AHA for their generous support of our efforts.