PHOENIX (KSAZ) - In many cases, cleaning up is a race against the clock. Once the mold sets in, the house has to be demolished. A group of Arizona realtors are finding that out first hand. Typically, they'd be at a real estate conference in Texas this time of year, but their company decided to help Hurricane Harvey victims instead.
Removing all that water logged debris from those homes is not an easy job and that's where a group of valley realtors come in. They're joining volunteers from across the country, lending a helping hand to the people who have lost just about everything they own.
When valley realtor E.J. McKinney and his team arrived in Houston to help homeowners with the demo of their storm-ravaged homes, he wasn't fully prepared for what he was about to see.
"It was much worse. It was actually so heartbreaking to see all the families in the neighborhood we were in. In between Katy and west Houston, that have pretty much lost everything," he said.
McKinney and thousands of other Keller-Williams realtors from across the country had a long-planned conference in Austin this week, but after Hurricane Harvey hit, they decided to switch gears and help out instead.
Help they found out was much needed when their buses pulled into a neighborhood on Tuesday.
"There were people that were sitting out on their front lawns in patio chairs, waiting for people to come help them. Just complete devastation and people were helpless, didn't know what to do," said McKinney.
They worked in teams of 15 people, essentially tearing out everything in the homes that had been under six feet of floodwater.
"It was complete demolition of the home. Going in, taking out carpet, taking out cabinets, taking out all the drywall, all the wet insulation in the home," explained McKinney.
And the helping hands from Arizona aren't stopping there. On Wednesday, they'll be focusing on the children who have been displaced from home and school for weeks.
"Tomorrow night, some of my agents and I will actually be going out at night and will be taking families back to school shopping in Austin and so the kids will have supplies to go back to school in Houston," he said.
It's estimated at least 100,000 homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey and thousands may have to be demolished if they can't get cleaned up in time.