Recovery continues three years after storms

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Recovery continues three years after storms

Sept. 21, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0742}

An e-Review Commentary
By Mary-Ann Luther and Pam Garrison**

The man ambled carefully up a ladder.

“I love my roof,” he said. “It is the most beautiful roof in the world. I want to live on my roof.”

Not many moments later that was followed by: “It sure is hot up here. How do you ’fellas stand it?”

And then, “I don’t have much to offer you, but I do have one thing.”

After slowly making his way down the ladder, the man went into his home. He returned with a plate of toasted English muffins, the last of his stores from his pantry, and sat and enjoyed the food and conversation with the construction workers repairing his roof.
The Volusia County homeowner was a disabled man on a fixed income. His roof had been damaged in the hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004. The date of reconstruction? Summer 2007.

Volunteers from Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church Disaster Aid Response Team help secure a Lady Lake homeowner’s roof after the home was damaged by tornadoes that hit Central Florida last February. Photo courtesy of Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry. Photo #07-0673. Web photo only.
The work of recovery after the initial impact of a disaster goes on for months and often years. It’s the work that long-term recovery organizations do, and it’s the hallmark of The United Methodist Church’s work after a disaster.

The Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry helps disaster survivors — like the Volusia County homeowner — through that recovery process. It’s done by working cooperatively with local long-term recovery organizations, providing the resources they need to help their community recover. The conference ministry also encourages and assists United Methodist pastors and church leaders in taking an active role in long-term recovery efforts in their communities.

Florida United Methodists have worked with dozens of long-term recovery organizations during the past three years to provide training and funding for recovery from the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes. One of those organizations is Volusia Interfaiths/Agencies Networking in Disaster, or VIND.

VIND put all the pieces together to repair the man’s home.

A VIND employee noticed his house, more specifically the blue tarp, and questioned why it was still there. VIND identified the man as a 2004 hurricane victim and assigned a case manager to determine his ability to pay for the repairs and if any money he had received after the disaster went toward his recovery. VIND discovered the man had used a good portion of what little money he did receive to pay for the blue tarp to be installed on his roof.
His case was presented to the VIND Rebuild Committee, which includes VIND staff, local pastors, and representatives from Volusia County government offices, local agencies and organizations. After hearing and examining the case and learning money was available to repair the home — the VIND office manager had found a fund donated by a faith group — the committee unanimously approved the project.
VIND staff organized the timeline, pulled a permit, had a dumpster and materials delivered, and scheduled volunteers.

The project, like most after a disaster, was a community effort. A local resident ordered too many shingles on a construction job and donated them to the American Red Cross, rather than return them to the store. The American Red Cross let VIND know the shingles were available. Federally funded laborers assisting with recovery from the tornadoes that hit the Central Florida area last February delivered shingles to the job site and loaded them on the roof. Another resident, reading a request in his church bulletin, donated used electric tools from his garage, many with instructions still attached, to help with the project. Other supplies were purchased at a discount from local businesses with funds donated to VIND. Out-of-state volunteers replaced moldy ceilings and reinstalled a light fixture that had been removed because it filled with water after every rain.

Before recovery from past storms was complete, volunteers were called in to respond to a new recovery effort. Many volunteers, like these from Coronado United Methodist Church in New Smyrna Beach, have helped residents in The Villages and Lady Lake areas repair their homes and property after tornadoes hit the Central Florida area last February. Photo courtesy of Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry. Photo #07-0674. Web photo only.

Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the disabled man was finally able to put away the buckets he had been using to catch the rainwater coming into his home. The home and its owner have a feeling of wholeness again.
Those who have been a part of this picture — those who have supported government and local agencies and faith groups, who have volunteered or donated money or sold materials at a discount, or who have simply thought or prayed for victims of disaster — should take a moment and savor that accomplishment.
Those who want to be part of making that difference should give. Give their time. Give their excess supplies. Give an extra dollar from their wallet. Enjoy the feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. Help a disaster victim become a survivor.

Individuals who would like to know more about how they can become involved should call the Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry office at 800-282-8011, extension 148.


This article relates to Discipleship.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Luther is program coordinator for Volusia Interfaiths/Agencies Networking in Disaster. Garrison is manager of the Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry.

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