'You know you're making a difference': P.E.I. woman helping with Hurricane Harvey cleanup

When Sarah-Jane Bell of Belle River, P.E.I., saw a call for volunteers to help clean up in Texas after Hurricane Harvey, she jumped at it.

'Whenever I get a call, I usually answer'

Sarah-Jane Bell 'really enjoyed' a church mission trip to Guatemala in February, and wants to help flood victims in the U.S. (Submitted by Sarah-Jane Bell)

When Sarah-Jane Bell of Belle River, P.E.I., saw a call for volunteers to help clean up in Texas after Hurricane Harvey, she jumped at it.

Bell, 44, a financial advisor, fitness instructor and volunteer firefighter, is headed to Pearland, Texas, a city of about 90,000 people just outside Houston, where the hurricane wreaked havoc seven weeks ago. 

"I thought, that'd be kind of neat, so I signed up," said Bell, who is leaving Nov. 5. "I can't wait."

The relief effort is co-ordinated by Samaritan's Purse Disaster Response, a Christian non-profit organization which has units working from five bases in Texas, according to its Facebook page.

She'll be doing debris removal, roof tarping and "mud-outs" — removing mud from homes. 

"I'm excited," Bell said. "There's going to be some challenges, I'm not saying it's going to be easy."

"I'm always up for a challenge," she added. "Whenever I get a call, I usually answer." 

'Making a difference'

Harvey brought record flooding in Texas, damaging at least 140,000 homes and killed a reported 82 people

Floodwaters engulfed homes in Houston Aug. 29, and the cleanup continues more than 7 weeks later.

Bell is financing the $1,000 trip out of her own pocket. It includes her flight, meals and accommodations in a church. 

The organization is also encouraging volunteers to fundraise an additional $1,000 for its cleanup efforts. Bell has a fundraising page on Samaritan's Purse, which has already been supported by the Belfast Fire Department and Lions Club, Bell said. 

Bell travelled to Guatemala for church mission work for 10 days in February and "really enjoyed" it, especially the physical exertion. 

"You know you're making a difference, so that's important," Bell said. 

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca