The ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI), which includes UCC Disaster Ministries, is now receiving groups of up to 15 volunteers for one to three weeks to do debris removal, cleaning, tarping and sanitization of homes on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Many homes remain untouched since Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused extensive damage in September 2017. The work will involve being exposed to a hot and humid climate, heavy lifting and climbing ladders, often while required to wear safety gear such as eye protection, safety hats, respirators and/or Tyvek protective suits. Minimum age: 16.
To volunteer, contact: STTVolunteer@drsiteam.org
Here is some information about this volunteer opportunity. For details, see links below.
Debris Removal, Cleaning, Tarping and Sanitization. Many homes remain untouched since the hurricane. The work begins with clearing away the debris inside and out. Water-damaged furniture, appliances and belongings need to be sorted through for what can be salvaged and what will need to be discarded. Homes had been tarped over by FEMA teams soon after the hurricanes, but many of the tarps were poorly installed or have already deteriorated and thus need to be replaced. The interiors of the homes need to be stripped to remove drywall, paneling and carpeting etc. so that the structure can be dried out, cleaned and treated to remove and prevent further damage from water and mold.
There are currently a number of small churches who are willing to host volunteers in their buildings. While they vary somewhat in their arrangements, most will be similar. Interested groups should make contact with the Volunteer Coordinators (currently Tim & Marcy Sheaffer). The Coordinators will communicate with the participating churches to identify housing for the week/s the group is interested in volunteering and ‘coordinate’ with the group organizer/leader regarding any specific details. Please understand that there are few individuals and no congregations who were not affected by these hurricanes, so many are in recovery themselves.
A minimum contribution of $10.00 per person per night is expected toward utilities etc. for the host congregation. Your group will have to decide how you are going to handle meal/grocery costs. Be aware that the cost of living on St. Thomas is 24% higher than Stateside.
Project operation will be Monday through Friday. Whatever your availability we expect that groups plan for at least a five-day work week. Often on work projects groups will arrive Sunday evening and depart Friday evening or Saturday by noon.Understanding that all volunteers will be flying, and flight arrangements are still a bit difficult to negotiate for St. Thomas, we will certainly work with you and, given the cost of transportation, do encourage those who are interested in volunteering for a longer term (up to three weeks).
Groups of up to 15 volunteers. Minimum age at this time is 16 years old. Able bodied. The work will involve being exposed to a hot and humid climate, heavy lifting and climbing ladders, often while required to wear safety gear such as eye protection, safety hats, respirators and/or Tyvek protective suits.