When the flash floods came, Troy Hernandez was at home with his parents. They were trapped inside their home but were able to break down the back door and swim through the neighborhood to find safety.
“The floodwater was so high it reached the top of that telephone pole.” The pole stretched way above many of the houses in the community. To the left is a massive pile of debris that was removed from Troy’s home and to the right is a glass doorway covered with mud. After the floodwater resided it left not only debris but also several feet of mud.
Troy found out about All Hands when he saw volunteers clearing his neighbor’s home.
Now that the mud is cleared from Troy’s home the sound of volunteers scrubbing the mud spattered walls echoes through the buildings interior.
Troy lost his aunt in the flood, “There wasn’t enough time to save her. We saved only ourselves. My parents told me we had nowhere else to go. So I slowly started to clean the house but I couldn’t do it alone.”
There was a soundless moment as his eyes glisten reflecting a little more light than before. “My father worked for 14 years saving to build this home. So when this tragedy happened it really hurt him and it really hurt me also.”
Troy recalls how he helped build their home. How he felt a sense of accomplishment and made his parents happy. The flash flood destroyed years of work and the task of cleaning their home was insurmountable.
Troy’s eyes reflect an unfathomable tragedy, hope, and gratitude. “Thank you isn’t enough. I couldn’t do this alone.”
Troy’s home is now one of 93 that have been cleaned as part of All Hands mud removal program.
Keely Kernan is an award winning freelance photojournalist. She has worked for an extended period of time with All Hands Volunteers. Her photography work is driven by a desire to connect the viewer, inspire understanding, and instill a sense of responsibility to become involved.