LAKE CHARLES, La. – Recovery Houston volunteers made their way to Lake Charles, Louisiana to help those who were hardest hit by Hurricane Laura.
After Hurricane Harvey, then-wedding planner, Kat Creech, turned a post-poned wedding into a Hurricane Harvey volunteer session, working with the wedding couple to have guests, instead, volunteer. That event became the first chapter of the Recovery Houston organization, founded by Creech.
Since Harvey, the non-profit volunteer organization has mobilized thousands of volunteers and helped hundreds of homeowners, even schools in their recovery efforts after natural disasters. Creech KPRC 2’s coverage of Recovery Houston was recognized by President Barack Obama as one of his most memorable humanitarian stories of 2017.
When Hurricane Laura hit, Creech knew Recovery Houston had to get involved. Labor Day weekend, Recovery Houston was able to mobilize a group of dozens of volunteers to bring hearts, hands, tools and supplies to an area devastated by Laura’s wrath.
“The decimation...it really is unimaginable. Our volunteers really didn’t understand what it meant until they started driving down these streets. Home after home after homes were covered in debris,” Creech said. “This is a really unbudgeted expense that [homeowners] are faced with ... We have one homeowner that was quoted $5,000 to remove their debris and another homeowner who was quoted 12,000 ... So this helps them.”
There, volunteers helped to clear that debris in a matter of hours. They got to work laying blue tarp on damaged homes in hopes to help homeowners protect their belongings as they wait for insurance to assess the damage.
“I woke up this morning feeling really good that I was able to help somebody,” Bradley Dennison, a Recovery Houston volunteer said. “[We want homeowners to] know that there’s a lot of other people out there. We’ll be back, and we’re hoping to spread the word.”
For Dennison, this is personal.
“I grew up in Lakes Charles, Louisiana and to see my hometown in the shape that it’s in is really heartbreaking,” Dennison said.
Dennison’s parents are staying with him. Their home was spared, but their neighbors were not so lucky. Dennison’s father made it to Houston just before officials closed off the roadways.
“The scope of the damage is hard to imagine. It’s every street for 20-30 miles. You can find a home that’s untouched and then across the street is a home with a tree in the middle of it,” Dennison said.
That is exactly why Dennison and dozens of others did not mind braving the scorching heat. Volunteers stood alongside locals in the hot weather, finding relief in cooling towels water and Gatorade, which Houstonians donated for the weekend to the cause.
“It’s really rewarding,” Dennison said.
Creech is now spreading the word about the challenges that exist in the affected communities including a lack of economic resources in the area and the extensive amount of damage that will likely take years to repair and rebuild.
“You may not be able to give a whole weekend, but if you’re able to give a few hours. It changes somebody’s life for the better,” Creech said.
The group will continue their volunteer efforts to help the areas affected by Laura.
For more information visit: www.recoveryhouston.org