Miss Frances’ Home One of Many Rebuilt With Help of UMCOR and Partners
By Susan J. Meister, Domestic Disaster Response Correspondent
August 29, 2008—Nicholas, Miss Frances', teenaged grandson says, "This floor feels so good!" when he slides across it in his stocking feet. New floors, new walls, a new roof, renewed hope - in this home in Slidell, Louisiana rebuilt with the help of UMCOR and its partner, the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Ministry.
For survivors of the 2005 hurricanes, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma, the past three years have been filled with challenges. Supported by record giving to the Hurricanes 2005 Advance, UMCOR, its partners and thousands of volunteers are committed to rebuilding homes, communities and lives.
Miss Frances, like so many others in Louisiana and Mississippi, witnessed the fury of Katrina on August 29, 2005 and the days following. She joined thirty-one other Slidell residents who waded through water to a neighbor's house, which had been built on pilings. When the waters receded enough for Miss Frances to return home, she discovered that hers was one of the few houses in the neighborhood to have running water and gas service, despite the extensive damage. She did what felt natural - she began to cook. "I fed 'em all," she explained.
Volunteers Enjoy Down Home Cookin'
After the storm, UMCOR began working with the Louisiana and Mississippi conferences to develop the church's response. Northshore Disaster Recovery, Inc. (NDRI) was established for the greater Slidell area, one of four stations organized by the Louisiana Conference and funded by UMCOR. Staff at NDRI began damage assessment, case management, volunteer coordination, and construction services, and connected with Miss Frances, who was living in a FEMA trailer next to her damaged home.
Debbie Schimmeck was the case manager who walked alongside this 75 year old homeowner during the cleanup and rebuilding process. "She is so proud of her new home," Schimmeck said.
In all, Miss Frances hosted seventy-five volunteers. By recording all of their names and addresses, she has stayed in touch with thank you notes and Christmas cards. "They did such a wonderful job," she smiled. "Even the younger ones got proper supervision! They were so generous to come and give their time."
Volunteers at the home enjoyed a hot meal every day at noon. "I fixed food," Miss Frances said. "That's what I could do!"
Homeowner Remembers Emotional "Last Nail Ceremony"
On October 17, 2007 a Canadian volunteer team celebrated a "last nail ceremony" with Miss Frances. She has a framed copy of the program and a picture of the 14-member volunteer team in her living room.
Miss Frances moved home three days before Thanksgiving. Since she moved in, three couples from volunteer teams have visited her. "I like to show off my house," she laughed. The homeowner's favorite room is her front porch, where she can "see everybody passin' by."
Miss Frances' home is one of nearly 5,500 houses rebuilt and/or repaired by the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Ministry in the past three years. Over 71,000 people have received direct assistance, case management services, and rebuilding assistance in the conference.
A recently released donor report, "Sustaining Survivor's Long-Term Recovery," details the response of UMCOR and its partners from Texas to Florida from 2005 through June 30, 2008. Outstanding stewardship of donor gifts will allow continued response for at least two more years.
Please support UMCOR in helping people recover their lives after a hurricane. Your gift to UMCOR Advance #3019695, Hurricanes 2008 will make a significant difference in the lives of people affected by high winds and water.