Veteran-based volunteer group cleans up 42 homes in Hampton Roads

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Homes in the Bow Creek area of Virginia Beach saw significant damage after Hurricane Matthew came through the area. The streets are still filled with restoration crews.

One of those crews was made up of volunteers from across the country who are here with Team Rubicon, a veteran-based group. But the volunteers, and the people they help, do not have to be connected to the military.

Dessie Atkinson says waking up after Hurricane Matthew was surreal.

“There was dirt from the water everywhere. Our floors were buckled throughout the whole house, eventually turning into hills of laminate wood,” said Atkinson.

She didn’t know where to start, so she went to the City of Virginia Beach’s website and filled out information on the damage to her home. The next thing she knew, Team Rubicon was at the door.

Atkinson said, “For people to volunteer and help us like this, it’s amazing.”

The entire first floor of her family’s home was destroyed, so the volunteers from Team Rubicon had their work cut out for them.

“We cut the sheet rock generally two feet or four feet, we pull out insulation to that level,” said Arno Kohler, one of the volunteers and a firefighter in New Jersey. This was his first project with Team Rubicon.

Kohler said, “Sometimes we go in a house and when you look at it it’s like, ‘Gosh, I can’t imagine what I would do if I was in their situation.'”

“The community has really stepped up to help out these homeowners and help out each other. And I think you see it every time something like this happens,” said Danitza James, who was a volunteer and works with Wounded Warriors in Virginia. She says Team Rubicon helps the community while helping veterans with their healing process.

The team has cleaned up 42 homes in Hampton Roads in two weeks.

“These people that we’re helping today, we’re staying here. So these are relationships that we’re building,” said James.

Atkinson’s husband is active duty military and stationed at Oceana. So having the help of a veteran-based organization is personal.

“It’s a great thing that they’re doing,” said Atkinson. “I feel so fortunate and lucky and I am so grateful.”

Team Rubicon doesn’t charge for their services. Many of the volunteers who were in Hampton Roads are now heading to North Carolina to lend a hand there.