HDR Teams: South Carolina 2016

HDR Teams: South Carolina 2016

2016 witnessed the first deployment of FBB’s highly anticipated Humanist Disaster Recovery (HDR) Teams program. To support this program, please donate here.

The October 2015 North American storm complex brought a high precipitation cold front across the United States, stalling along the Eastern coast, tapping into moisture from nearby Hurricane Joaquin as it hit the Bahamas, and developing a surface low just east of the Florida/Georgia border. This event led to one of the most prolific rainfall events in modern history. Rivers and levees breached their banks, washing away road, bridges, and homes. The combination of these elements produced a 1 in 1,000 year event in Columbia, South Carolina, leaving residents who did not qualify for other assistance, reliant on non-profit aid.

South Carolina Flooding
Photo credit: Daily Released

Partnered with secular organization, St. Bernard Project, HDR Teams deployed 19 volunteers from seven states and contributed 554 hours of service providing $12,104.90 worth of donated time to the affected region. Volunteers worked on demolition, mold remediation, drywall installation, mudding, sanding, and priming homes in the area.


Columbia, SC

Dates of Deployment:   

January 2nd 2016 – January 9th 2016

Type of Disaster:   



St. Bernard Project

Number of volunteers:   


Number of hours donated:   


HDR Teams is an evidence-based program, and as such, grows very carefully as tested through volunteer experiences on the ground. During this first deployment, volunteers not only contributed their time toward recovery efforts, but also took part in nightly meetings to assist in shaping the future of HDR Teams. This feedback was later incorporated into HDR Teams documentation and training, in preparation for HDR Teams’ second deployment in 2017.

Nature of the Work


Mold Remediation

Hanging / Patching Drywall




Quotes from the Deployment

“Our site managers told us it must just be the kind of group that we are because we all work so hard and she could tell that we care because of how much effort we put into getting everything done right.” – Rebecca Vitsmun

“I’ve never worked harder for less pay in my entire life, and I couldn’t be happier.” – Tom Amon

“Working with the HDR Teams was an experience I will never forget. My teammates were awesome and so positive, and we accomplished so many things working as a team. I hope I get to do it again. It’s rewarding to give back and help someone who needs a hand.” – Sara (age 14)

“So much is beyond words and expression. To give selflessly and to want to excel in charity toward your fellow human is what this project is truly about.

My new friends accepted each other and the task without a single complaint or hesitation save the regret of not having more time and money to commit to the project.

With our bodies tired everyday and spirits high every evening, we pushed on regardless of the task. There was no menial job, no insignificant duty, no prejudice, or preferences to be had.

Work needed to be done and we did it.

I want to personally thank Rebecca Vitsmun for her vision. People with vision make the world a better place. She truly has put love onto action.” – Thomas True

Team Members

Amy Monsky
From South Carolina

Cara Hardin
From South Carolina

Chasity Elliot
From North Carolina

From South Carolina

From South Carolina

Janney Woods
From Illinois

From Georgia

From South Carolina

From Georgia

From South Carolina

Noelle George
From Texas

From Georgia

Rebecca Vitsmun
From Washington

From South Carolina

From Georgia

From South Carolina

Thomas True
From Missouri

Tom Amon
From South Carolina


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