Castaway Kids started constructing houses after hurricane Jimena, when so many low-income families lost their homes. Over the years, CK has assisted in providing materials and people to repair and build houses for those in need.
The Construction Committee accepts applications from needy families who can ask for any type of construction assistance such as: adding a bathroom and a sewage system, completing a room or a roof, or even building a whole house from the ground up. The decision as to which projects are chosen is based upon many factors such as, the need of the family, demolitions required, existing building size, distance and availability of infrastructure requirements at the site (water, electrical and sewage) and or hookup, travel time for the group, etc... All of the applicants who are being considered are interviewed and the building site is visited by the committee. Any Castaway Kids member who is sponsoring a student can provide the application form to their student’s family to be considered to be eligible for a construction project.
Castaway Kids 10th donated boat, a 28 foot Lancer, had a very damaged deck that could not be repaired. It is now the warm, dry, and secure home to a family that lives at the back of the Ranchitos, nearer the hills behind San Carlos. The interior of the boat was left intact so that the family could benefit from the stove, sink, and toilet if they want. In due course they will be able to plumb it into their water and septic systems. We owe the growing and continued success of our "donated boat program" to Art Lewis, our resident boat expert, and the generous cooperation of the owners and workers of Marina San Carlos. Not only have we "re-purposed" three yachts into "homes" but we have also funded our education programs and raised funds towards our Community Education Center. The remaining donated boats are now being used by their new owners here in San Carlos and we hope to see our 11th donated boat join that fleet very shortly.
Hurricane Jimena - 2009
On Labor Day weekend, 2009, Jimena came to town. Downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, it didn’t make the national news. It did, however, devastate the lives and landscape of San Carlos and the surrounding communities.
In an area which typically receives a mere 2-3 inches of rain annually, this 100 year storm sat off our coast for 30 hours delivering 35 inches of rain. The enormous amount of water became a deadly force; roads, bridges, homes and lives were washed away. Flatlands became arroyos, arroyos became rivers, and the San Carlos Golf Course became a lake.
The Mexican army cut new roads to allow access to the area. Aid in the way of tents and water arrived. Immediately the Castaway Kids volunteers sprung into action. Calls went out for water, bedding, clothing, cookware, household items, food and money. Tirelessly the volunteers worked the devastated and already impoverished area of San Jose and other surrounding communities, distributing water, food, supplies and encouragement.
Our Construction Committee began the task of assessing each family’s loss, prioritizing by need. Families described their ordeal, many standing on the sole piece of concrete left from what was their home. They shared stories of loss, fear, panic and tears as the cold raging floodwaters washed away lives. One family of eight tied themselves to a large tree as the waste deep water surged. People were tangled in downed barbed wire, or injured by debris. There were stories of courageous rescues and complete devastation.
An enormous task awaited our all volunteer work staff as they began returning to San Carlos in the fall. Our goal was to get people off the ground and into shelters before winter. The cleanup and rebuilding began.
Between Castaway Kids, The Rotary Club and Sonora is Safe, funding received for the rebuilding exceeded $160,000 US. Families worked side by side with our volunteer staff building over 30 – 12’x 18’ houses, at a cost of approximately $2,000 US. We also replaced numerous roofs. As winter approached, the tents disappeared as families moved into their newly rebuilt homes.