Our Commitment and Disaster Relief Impact
December 18, 2020
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been declared to be the most active on record. “With storms able to hold more moisture in a warmer climate and sea-levels rising, people along the coasts in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America are facing increased risks from Atlantic storms” (Bloomberg).
Your support enables us to serve vulnerable communities in areas devastated by natural disasters as well as those hardest hit by the pandemic. In September, our DM12 volunteer initiative allowed us to get back to work safely so that we can assist communities affected by hurricanes in Louisiana (2020), The Bahamas (2019), Florida (2018) and Texas (2017). We are also helping to distribute food and to provide free COVID-19 tests in California.
THE IMPACT OF ALL HANDS AND HEARTS
At All Hands and Hearts, we arrive early and stay late. Arriving early enables us to assess immediate needs and to lay the foundation for a productive long-term relationship with members of the community. This is how we ensure that the work we do continues to serve their needs. As coping with the immediate challenges of a disaster evolves into long-term recovery, our team assesses the long-range needs of communities that have received little or no help.
Over the past five years, we have steadily increased the amount of time that we stay on the ground following a natural disaster.
SPOTLIGHT: THE BAHAMAS HURRICANE RELIEF
On September 1, 2019, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian made landfall in The Bahamas, tying the record for the strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the Atlantic.
“Hurricanes are categorized by their wind speeds, but the most deadly and destructive threat posed by most hurricanes is the storm surge they can produce…. While no tide gauge measurements were available in the hardest-hit parts of The Bahamas when Hurricane Dorian struck in 2019, witnesses reported that the storm put parts of the islands under as much as 20 feet of water” (CNN).
Arriving in The Bahamas just a week after Dorian, our disaster assessment response team immediately realized that our volunteer work could do a lot of good in the Abaco Islands. Our team worked to set up a program that opened to volunteers on October 1, 2019. Thanks to $2,000,000 in matching funds from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, we were able to make a commitment to the people of Abaco to be there for the long haul.
Before COVID-19 forced us to suspend operations, 504 volunteers from 29 countries had completed 175 projects on Great Abaco, benefiting more than 2,200 people. We re-opened our programs in mid-September 2020, resuming work on two schools: Every Child Counts (ECC) and Central Abaco Primary School (CAPS). ECC is the only school on the island for students with special needs, and CAPS is the largest school on the island, serving more than 800 students.
SPOTLIGHT: LOUISIANA HURRICANE RELIEF
“Residents in the Gulf states have already faced significant loss this hurricane season with damage from Hurricane Laura estimated at between $8 billion and $12 billion, Delta between $700 million and $1.2 billion and Zeta between $2.5 billion and $4 billion. These property damage losses aren’t the only financial impacts from this active hurricane season, as a record-breaking five named storms made landfall in Louisiana causing widespread disruptions” (Forbes).
When Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border as one of the most powerful storms in modern U.S. history, our disaster assessment and response team was on the ground within 48 hours to assess the damage and determine the most effective course of action. We launched our Louisiana Hurricane Relief Program to provide immediate assistance to communities in accordance with our new operational standards. These standards promote a safer environment that is appropriate when working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our team is helping families disrupted by both Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta. With the support of AmeriCorps NCCC members, we have been focusing on remedial work like chain-sawing, tarping roofs, roving debris and mucking and gutting. Having made a commitment to stay in Louisiana well into 2021, in December of 2020 we are beginning to shift to long-term recovery work, starting with a resilient roof-repair program.
SPOTLIGHT: RENEWAL PROJECTS
Educational Technology (EdTech) consists of the technological tools and media that foster the communication, development and exchange of knowledge. Depending on a school’s requirements, the EdTech we provide may include hardware or software or both. It also always includes teacher training so that teachers are adequately prepared to use the new resources to enhance the learning experience of their students.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) improve the health of children and community members by reducing the incidence of water-related and sanitation-related illnesses.
We are committed to collaborating closely with partners and to learning from those we serve in order to achieve an impact that is lasting and meaningful.
Our work would not be possible without you.
In 2021, we plan to repair and rebuild disaster-resilient schools in Mexico, Peru and the Philippines; to help provide bush-fire relief in Australia; and to launch a pilot program to provide natural-disaster preparedness and relief to U.S. communities affected by wildfires. Our disaster assessment response team will continue to work remotely to determine how we can most effectively support communities coping with natural disasters around the world, especially those whose lives have been disrupted by recent major disasters in Central America and Southeast Asia.
Learn how to get involved at allhandsandhearts.org. Volunteer for our programs around the world; join the Builders, our passionate community of monthly donors; arrange to have your gift matched by your employer; give through a donor-advised fund or create a fundraiser.
Together, we can build stronger communities that can better withstand disasters.