Volunteer coalition seeks to maximize massive Harvey recovery effort

- On storm-torn Houston's near east side you'll find an "arsenal" in the fight to recover.

"We've got pressure washers, generators, shop vacs, pumps. We are lending all of these tools out for free for Harvey relief," said Erika Hornsey who runs Houston Community ToolBank.

Hammers, scrappers and shovels by the thousands, all waiting for human hands to wield them.

"Our mission is about amplifying impact, so our mission is about getting these blue tools in the hands of volunteers so we can get this recovery underway," said Hornsey.

The ToolBank is part of a critical coalition of more than 40 non-profits known as Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters.

Facing destruction and displacement of gargantuan proportion, it is VOAD's job to deliver the kind of relief that government can't or won't.

"Right now we are focused on mucking and gutting. We want to get people's homes as clean as possible as quickly as possible," said Matt Johns, VOAD's elected Chairman.

Flooding disasters here in back-to-back years have given Johns and his member organizations plenty of practice for what is clearly unprecedented wreckage.

"Memorial Day and Tax Day set us up for this great response that we are experiencing right now, because we've done this before. We are just scaling it to a scale that's never been done," said Johns.
  
That means recruiting, vetting, equipping and dispatching what amounts to tens of thousands of caring Houstonians over the next 24 months.

As head of Volunteer Houston, it's Cameron Waldner's job to position the willing for maximum impact in a recovery that will be neither quick nor easy.

"This is all hands on deck. If you can pick up a shovel and do yard work in your own home you can come out and help us right now," said Waldner.

Johns, who also works for Catholic Charities, is asking for patience from victims and commitment from those inclined to help.

"There is grumbling right now among some people who are frustrated, but we are going to continue helping each other, neighbor helping neighbor, along the way and our organizations are going to drive that as much as we possibly can," said Johns.

If you want volunteer, donate or collaborate here are important links:

http://txgulfcoastvoad.org/

http://www.houstontoolbank.org/

http://volunteerhouston.org/

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