Crystal McCutcheon’s spinal problems were affecting her ability to help her family clean up all the flood damage from her Andrews home.
The floodwaters seeped into her home business, Triple Stitch Dezigns, and have stalled her income for a few days. Her husband Brian was working to get the business back up and running, so “Cindy has something else to focus on,” he said.
“Who thought that six inches of water could destroy your life?” Crystal McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon was stocking her refrigerator with bottled water and Gatorade Tuesday afternoon as a crew of volunteers gutted her large brick home. She pumped out all the floodwater from her house a few days ago, but most of the drywall and insulation had to be removed after about six inches of rain seeped inside.
It’s sad that we have to be here, but it’s good that we can help. It’s good there are people like this in the world.
Kaylee Chapman, All Hands volunteer
The McCutcheons had just remodeled their house.
“We’ll have to start all over again,” McCutcheon said. “I thought we were good, but now we’re in a nightmare.”
McCutcheon and her family thought they got ahead of the damage by pumping out all the water as soon as the rain stopped last week, she said. She doused the walls in bleach to stop any bacteria from growing, but then the mold came.
“You would not believe how fast it grows,” McCutcheon said.
Instead of tearing down walls and ripping up flooring of their home for the second week in a row, the family was able to take a little break, thanks to All Hands Volunteers.
All Hands is an international non-profit organization that engages local volunteers in times of crisis. The non-profit addresses immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters, such as rural areas affected by S.C.’s historic flooding, said Sherry Buresh, director of disaster response.
All Hands does not charge people for their work.
The organization has volunteers from all over the world and sends help to disasters everywhere, Buresh said. Georgetown County volunteers gutted some Habitat for Humanity homes Tuesday along with the McCutcheon’s home on Magnolia Street. The crews aim to give help where it’s needed most, Buresh said.
“This is their disaster, not ours,” she said. “We don’t come in and tell them what to do, we just come in and ask what they need from us and then jump in.”
To learn more about All Hands Volunteers or to register to help, visit http://hands.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several volunteers spent Tuesday morning gutting a Habitat house on Rosemary Street, including Larry Dillard, who lives in Myrtle Beach. Dillard has volunteered with All Hands since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana.
He originally wanted to help homeowners around Myrtle Beach, but most of the extremely flooded homes in the area still have standing water, he said.
“We have to wait for the water to recede before we can do anything there,” Dillard said. “So I looked for other places to help, and this is a nice start.”
Dillard was tearing out a washer and dryer from the Rosemary Street home while other volunteers removed water-damaged toilets, drywall and appliances. Some of the volunteers wore dust masks and gloves, but all were working tirelessly to give Andrews residents a new home.
“You couldn’t pay me to do this crap,” Dillard said. “But it’s very rewarding, and that’s why I do it.”
Volunteers from Wilmington and Goose Creek were also cleaning out Andrews homes, including 20-year-old Kaylee Chapman. She signed up with the United Way to help flood victims, and when she heard Georgetown County needed help she jumped at the chance.
She said many volunteers flocked to the Columbia area – where many roads, bridges and neighborhoods were ravaged by the flood – which means the lesser-known towns in the state have received less help.
“The rural areas don’t get any attention,” Chapman said.
Chapman took a semester off from college and wanted to help flood victims any way she could. She said she’s willing to go anywhere there’s a need – even the small town of Andrews, S.C.
“I’m just surprised that there’s not more people here,” she said. “We are all neighbors and we all need to help each other.”
The McCutcheon family just needed a little bit of that help, and Cindy McCutcheon said All Hands Volunteers were a welcome relief.
My business is what keeps me motivated. It’s what makes me get up in the morning and not just lay in bed and dwell on the pain.
Crystal McCutcheon, Andrews resident
“We are so exhausted, but when they first came to help Monday I thought it was a dream,” she said.
When volunteers showed up again Tuesday morning, McCutcheon realized it wasn’t just a dream – it was a blessing.
“It eased all our minds to have someone here to help,” she said.
Claire Byun: 626-0381, @Claire_TSN