In late September, American partnered with Team Rubicon to assist with the relief efforts from this summer’s storms. And part of that effort included an Envoy-operated Embraer 175, taking volunteers from Denver (DEN) to Houston (IAH) and back again a week later.
“I ran saws, lobbing tree limbs for seven straight days,” said Team Rubicon volunteer Johnny Siren. “We had two trucks of volunteers with chainsaws. It was a symphony of saws! We’ve responded to other disasters, but this is the first op we’ve done on this magnitude.”
Rubicon volunteers spent the week “deployed” in a local Houston church on makeshift beds, volunteering their time on a daily basis to make a real impact to the communities they assist.
“Every little issue feels bigger when you’re in a disaster zone – this is peoples’ lives and they matter,” added Johnny. “The most important part is keeping up the momentum. As soon as we get back, another Rubicon team will replace us to keep the work moving. Thank you Envoy and American for getting us there!”
While volunteers like Johnny chopped tree limbs, elsewhere, other volunteers spent their time helping Houston residents prepare their homes for repair. “I spent the week tearing out drywall, flooring, anything that was damaged by flooding,” said volunteer TJ Hermesman. “Most houses we had to gut from the ground to the ceiling. People lost everything.”
“Working conditions were tough,” added volunteer Robert Hibbitts. “High heat and humidity, with goggles, gloves, work boots, work suits – you couldn’t drink enough water! We moved everything we gutted into piles on the street – each pile was four to six feet high, block to block.”
“This week we’ve had sweat and tears – I’ve learned a lot; it’s a lifetime bond,” said volunteer Dan Gleason. “The most interesting part is how people come together in situations like this – you find support and connections where you wouldn’t expect.”
Learn more about Team Rubicon at teamrubiconusa.org.