By: Danny McGlashing (all donations made to this campaign are tax-deductible)
(Photo: Me on the right, delivering a van-load of donated water coolers to homes without running water for a project I launched in Detroit)
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in late August with flooding and devastation not seen since SuperStorm Sandy in 2012 and Katrina in 2005. It’s been a month and we’ve seen the most devastating hurricane season on record since.
I’m Danny, a 32 year old high school dropout, construction company owner and orphan from Boston MA. I want to tell you a story about a town in Texas where people are living in tents and kids are sleeping in an auditorium because their homes are uninhabitable, and how I need your help to raise $25,000 right now to set up, equip and lead a volunteer demolition, mold remediation and debris removal team to help Rockport residents get back into their homes. But before that, you’re probably wondering why a guy in Boston is trying to raise $25k to save homes in Texas, so let me share my personal Hurricane Harvey Story with you. Having been displaced at a young age myself, I value very deeply and understand the importance of a stable home. Right, now, Rockport residents don’t have that stability.
How Harvey changed my life ..or, my plans for the fall.
I have 4 very unique skill-sets that don’t seem to mesh well in the real world; building and demolishing things, management of large teams, web design (old hobby), and activism. These skills rarely came together for any good reason, I always thought, but I was wrong.
August 24th was like any other day, I was sending out a few bids for various construction projects while keeping an eye on the storm because it was all over the news. As the storm neared land, I had a gut instinct it was going to be bad so I jumped on Twitter and began asking people for help. We added shelter locations to an open google doc I created so people in need knew where to go to get help. I did this before during Superstorm Sandy and I did it for Detroit during the water crisis. I reached out to old Sandy volunteers and as the volunteer digital team grew and so did the list. Shortly after, we took on a really tenacious mapper named Jess from California who began mapping the data while I built a website and appended it to my smaller handyman company’s site (here harveyrelief.handiworks.co) so digital volunteers could get involved and people in Texas could see where the help was. I started seeing news reports that listed 2 or 3 shelters, and the FEMA ‘text your zip code for shelter’ thing didn’t give me anything, not a single shelter. In contrast, the Red Cross website listed about 18 shelters. This wasn’t exactly helpful.
Hundreds came together pretty fast after I requested they scour the internet for any bit of info they could find, vet the info by phone, and add it to the data sheet so our mapper could map the info. Volunteers began calling these locations daily to update their status on the data sheet and pretty soon the map held over 1400 active shelters and locations for resources and aid. I called it the Harvey Relief Map . And we all used our collective social media power to make sure every Texan we could reach had a copy of it. At this point we were being blasted out by the Weather Channel , Hollywood actors , musicians and picked up by various mainstream media outlets across the country because seemingly, a Handyman company was more involved than the Federal Government. But back on point, soon after, another team sprouted up and joined us wanting to crowd source rescue information from the many thousands who began posting to social media needing rescue because, 911 wasn’t answering the phone. (In contrast to FEMA, police and fire were truly swamped) Anyhow, this team was made up of the entire Alt-Gov Movement. Really cool people. They work in various government agencies and they all disapprove of the Trump administration, and they’ve gained quite a support base. These are people with strong moral values.
We all started working together and this overwhelmed my first mapper (she had a day job like we all did) so I met a second mapper. Soon after, a cool kid from Texas named Andrew and him made a map of the info the Alt-Gov people were compiling, we called it the Harvey Rescue Map . Within a few days, other digital teams from around the country merged efforts with ours, adding to the map and a citizen brigade of boaters under different banners from all over the country began to launch best-effort rescues, and it was working.
This is what average Americans look like.
We’re a heroic people who come together, launch rescues, make maps, call shelters, feed our neighbors. We don’t wait around and we don’t ask permission to help our neighbors. We band together, from all walks of life and we get it done for our people. That’s who we are.
Not long into these efforts another Hurricane was brewing off the coast of Florida and as the last person was rescued from a rooftop in Texas, a little Island called Barbuda was being completely destroyed. Within a day, Miami was underwater. Part of our digital team broke off for Irma, and ultimately Maria to try and repeat the relief and rescue mapping efforts for those in need. I stayed to help Texas.
Over in Houston, a pop-up warehouse opened (called the Harvey Relief Hub) only planning on staying open for a single weekend thanks to a kick ass real estate company called Boulevard Realty , led by Bill Baldwin, an amazing guy who took the initiative to help the people. I talked with the warehouse administration and began using this newfound fame to direct supply convoys and volunteers to it, (supplies coming from people like you). Families in need began showing up by the hundreds, dazed from the devastating experience they just went through, some just wanting water to drink. The warehouse has since grown to become a central pipeline for supplies to other smaller warehouses and shelters which have opened up to families in need. They couldn’t close now. Now they’re famous and have a responsibility to the community 🙂 This past Sunday night, seven 18-wheelers sat lined up waiting for a bay to open up to drop their supplies.
The Relief was underway.
The Relief was underway, and man were we tired. We have normal jobs, ya know.
As the Cajun Navy (a citizen led boat brigade made up of people like you) began to launch rescues in Florida, the Cajun Army , their sister organization (also made up of people like you) began to band together to perform house clean outs and demolition to prevent the most destructive element that creeps up in the wake of receding flood waters, mold. More on that later.
House after house they went, in northern coastal towns and cities helping those in need, ripping out drywall and removing debris, setting up shelter in churches to house incoming volunteers and getting medical supplies to those most in need.
After many phone calls back and forth with Cajun Army founders, particularly Chris King (this guy has an absolutely amazing heart) and Chelsea, their social media dispatcher (who has worked tirelessly for a month) we all decided to band together, and begin sharing our resources, info, volunteer leads, and supplies in an attempt to help fill each others gaps. The warehouse, me, the Cajun Army’s northern demo crew, and now even a Houston based wedding planner who turned a wedding party into a demo crew that has saved over 200 Houston homes.
I reached out to old friends from the Jewish community in America’s underdog city, Detroit, (a city where an economic disaster laid siege during the Great recession) to set up a non-profit for us under their 501c(3) so we could offer donors like you, a tax-deduction and they agreed. We appreciate their help, check them out, they teach low-income Detroit kids how to build and keep their neighborhoods pristine.
In all this insanity, a coalition was born. We are, the Harvey Relief Coalition.
In all this insanity, a coalition was born. We are, the Harvey Relief Coalition. Aaron Flores, the admin of the warehouse team made our logo.
You can check us out here.
Now at this point it’s only been 2+ weeks since the storm made landfall, and the urgency and need for assistance was growing in Texas and we were doing everything we could as a coalition for Houston and the Northern coastal towns like Port Arthur, I reached out to so many people who work in the media but most of them had to cover Maria’s devastation as the Hurricane began to hit Puerto Rico. I was beginning to feel like Texas was forgotten and then it hit me going into week 4, this week:
What about the southern coastal communities?
I remember early on how hard they had been hit but we had been working in a bubble around Houston and North and East from there this entire time.
A group I had contact with called Austin to Houston Harvey Relief decided to send a scout party southward to Rockport TX and what they found was nothing short of horrific.
The first message I got back from one of their volunteers was this:
“They were smashed into the dirt and are sleeping under the stars or in tents. The children are all being housed in an auditorium together to give some stability to their lives since their homes were destroyed. The community is crying out for everything from cots and pillows to cleaning supplies, please help lead and mobilize a response”
At this point it’s been almost 4 weeks, I felt trapped, being up here in Boston, I broke down, I’m not a machine. Stubborn yes, but I’m not a machine, emotionally.
I got photos/videos back from their scout team and it made me think of villages and towns in Europe during World War 2’s destruction.. kids in an auditorium.. parents in tents and sleeping bags, destruction everywhere, and I’m still here in Boston.
I have to get to Rockport, and you should make an impact with me.
So here’s my pitch to you, I have reached my maximum effectiveness as any organizer can be from a laptop and phone from Boston. I have chosen to put my construction and handyman companies into the hands of a project manager to get to Rockport, and set up a camp to equip and lead a volunteer demolition and debris removal team to help save these Rockport homes, so these people can actually go home. I’m far more effective leading on the ground than from a computer anyhow. Last year I led 100 men across multiple construction projects both residential, commercial and federal under my upstart construction company called HammerWorks, also, construction and demolition is my expertise and that’s what Rockport needs.
I’m raising this money to cover the cost of a rental van to move tools around, the cost of equipment needed to outfit 50-100 demolition and debris removal volunteers and to purchase cleaning gear like Mold X (as many people are using bleach right now not knowing that it’s ineffective in the fight against mold). This fundraiser will also cover my food, lodging and travel expenses.
I can offer a tax-deduction on any donation made to this effort, because the cool people that teach those Detroit kids how to build, are handling the accounting and they’re wicked smart. Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll have them email you a fancy receipt for your tax records.
Volunteers groups can also reach out to me at this email to pitch in. If we hit our fundraising goal we’re going to stage at a Baptist church in Rockport. The good people at Austin to Houston Harvey Relief have already pledged volunteers and I’m pretty well networked, so getting more groups involved shouldn’t be too hard.
If this fundraiser doesn’t reach it’s goal the Baptist church administrators will distribute Home Depot gift cards to residents so they can purchase tools and needed items for mold remediation and debris removal. I know I keep saying that phrase: “mold remediation” ..you may be reading this and wondering what that even means. So I’ll explain.. When a hurricane or flood hits, the interior of your home is exposed to water, the water eventually drains away and within a week or 2, mold starts to grow everywhere. Within 3 months (and it’s been a month since Harvey hit). Your house if overtaken by it..
In many cases in Rockport, mold is only part of the issue, the wind speeds were so high there, that many homes were torn apart and debris is everywhere and conditions are highly unsafe for people to return home.
Anyhow, help me help Rockport Texas. This town was hit worse than Houston and these people shouldn’t be sleeping in tents, lets get them back into their homes with some dignity.
Thanks for your help, I can be reached on my cell anytime as well if you have any pressing questions: 781-697-7255
Founder of the Harvey Relief Coalition.
Owner of HammerWorks/HandiWorks Co.
If you can’t donate or volunteer than I want you to take one thing away from this story and that’s this, if you have a heart, a little bit of fighting spirit than you can do what I did, all you have to do is try. Everyone in our group are everyday champs with hearts of gold who persisted and continue to help people in need. If that sounds like you than the next time something happens in your community, do something, don’t wait, or ask for permission to be you. Just do it 😉