Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
In September of 2017, Hurricane Irma had devastating impacts across much of the state of Florida. Week of Compassion responded immediately through local congregations, helping meet critical needs in the aftermath of the storm. But even in those early days, it was clear that recovery was going to be a years-long journey for communities in the area.
One of the partners that Week of Compassion has worked with throughout the recovery process is NFLTRO (The Northeast Florida Long-Term Recovery Organization). The group organized to meet long-term recovery needs in Duval and Nassau Counties. Many of the households they serve are people aged 67 and older. Most of these residents live in underserved neighborhoods, and typically live well below poverty guidelines. Even before the storm, many were barely able to make ends meet for basic needs--much less for costly repairs.
George G. was a 68-year-old homeowner who, along with his wife, sustained major damages to his roof, siding, and interior ceilings and floors when Hurricane Irma made landfall. The home was also flooded, causing damage to the kitchen, bedroom, and lower-level den. He used his entire savings to make temporary repairs to the roof, fix the kitchen, and replace the den floor. After exhausting his savings--and with no assistance from FEMA and no property insurance--the remaining scope of needed work was substantial: a complete roof replacement, siding repair, mold remediation, and significant interior drywall repair.
Mary P. was a 63-year-old homeowner who suffered damage to her roof, ceiling and walls. On top of the impact of Hurricane Irma, she had sustained significant injuries in an auto accident and was unable to work, resulting in her monthly expenses exceeding her income. The scope of work, again, was extensive, including a roof replacement, mold remediation, window repair, and interior repairs to walls and ceilings.
With no property insurance and her claim denied by FEMA, Mary, as well as George and his wife, were referred to NFLTRO. After much patience and perseverance, both were able to make a full recovery and recently returned to their homes!
These are just two examples of the many neighbors that turned to NFLTRO when other resources were unavailable or fell short. With support from Week of Compassion, our partners helped these homeowners--and many more like them--make a full recovery from Hurricane Irma. Their presence in the community continues, making a difference in the lives of many despite rising supply and material costs over the last year resulting from the pandemic.
To date, Northeast Florida Long Term Recovery Organization has assisted 91 families in Duval and Nassau Counties who had no other resources for home repairs, making their homes safe, sanitary and secure. Our partners share these words of thanks: “We are grateful for the support of Week of Compassion and other donors who have allowed us to help these homeowners move beyond the damage Irma left behind and be more prepared and resilient should future storms impact our community.”
May 15 marks the official start of the 2021 hurricane season, and this week, May 9-15, is Hurricane Preparedness Week. FEMA has resources available to help families plan ahead. Also, congregations that plan for disaster are better positioned to respond and serve their neighbors following a disaster. Week of Compassion is here to help church leaders be prepared. Visit our website for more information and planning resources.
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