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“We’ll Do Whatever It Takes To Help”: Hurricane Irma Recovery Continues In Florida

Disaster Relief & Emergency Services

Hurricane Irma struck Florida 4 years ago, and people across the state are still recovering. Here’s how Endeavors is helping 14 families rebuild.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida coast, leaving behind $77 billion in damages and thousands displaced. The Category 4 storm eviscerated power across the state, leaving vulnerable individuals and families stranded and isolated. 

After Irma was declared a Federal Emergency, Volunteer Florida awarded Endeavors a contract to deploy our Disaster Case Management team to assist residents hit by the storm with their long-term recovery. We set up headquarters in Orlando, and between 2017 and 2020, Endeavors assisted nearly 2,000 individuals affected by Hurricane Irma and provided outreach and information to 37,000 more. In Bradford County, we helped clients like Lori Gerrard get the funds, labor, and materials they needed to make their homes livable again, 

When that contract ended in 2020, Program Coordinator Renee Temple continued working in Florida to provide referrals for residents still struggling to recover from the storm and support the community through volunteerism at her local food pantry.

Despite the tremendous amount of work completed to help Floridians recover, we knew there was still more work to do, more people in need of help, and we wanted to be there for them. Renee and her team submitted a proposal for a contract through Volunteer Florida, and we were honored to receive $200,500 to reactivate Disaster Case Management services in the community and assist families still in need of home repairs due to hurricane damage. “Our clients’ homes will now be safe, secure, sanitary, and comfortable,” Temple shares. “There’s nothing better than knowing you had a hand in helping our more vulnerable population affected by Hurricane Irma.

These funds allow Renee and her team to continue helping Floridians digging out of the physical, financial, and emotional rubble of Hurricane Irma. For the fourteen households Endeavors is serving, that $200,000 could change everything. 

Digging Out of the Rubble of a Hurricane

“The majority of our clients are older and on a limited fixed income,” Temple explains. They may not be able to afford home repairs, may have lost work, or couldn’t obtain flood insurance. In some cases, clients submitted claims with other recovery organizations like FEMA, but for various reasons did not qualify for aid. 

For nearly half a decade, these families have lived with leaky roofs, unusable appliances, thousands of dollars in lost clothing, vehicles, and personal items. The storm didn’t just ravage their homes — it left lasting scars on their lives, significantly impacting their quality of life. 

Two of the most deeply devastated communities were Orange County and Duval County, where Renee and her team have identified fourteen families in need of recovery assistance. 

Repairing, Rebuilding, Recovering

Natural disasters never hit two people (or families) the same way. That’s why we never use one-size-fits-all recovery plans at Endeavors. Our Disaster Case Managers work one-on-one with disaster survivors to rebuild their homes and their lives. 

“We’ll be able to help with anything in the home,” says Temple. “A lot of the issues have been roofing, ceiling damage, and mold in the walls and baseboards. They sometimes need new doors, windows, or cabinetry.”

So, what does this Disaster Case Management process look like for our Florida clients? 

Step One: Conduct damage assessments to identify each client’s unique needs.

Our DCM meets with the client and conducts a thorough intake process that includes photos of the property and any damage sustained. Does the client currently have a home? Is it livable? Do we need to find them temporary housing? Has their furniture or appliances been irreparably damaged by the storm? Do they have a safe vehicle? 

Step Two: Develop customized recovery plans.

The DCM researches potential resources for assistance and helps the clients complete and submit the appropriate applications for financial assistance, labor and materials donations, or other forms of aid. This might include a temporary trailer to live in, new appliances, or medical equipment.

Step Three: Coordinate with our Long Term Recovery Group Partners to begin home repairs or rebuilds.

Endeavors has partnered with three Long Term Recovery Groups, RISE Orange County, Duval Disaster Recovery, and LIFT JAX, to execute comprehensive home repairs for clients. These local organizations will help procure labor and materials to repair damage caused by the storm. 

Throughout this entire recovery process, Endeavors DCMs are there for the client every step of the way. We schedule weekly touch-base calls and visits, walk them through any and all paperwork and legal processes, and ensure they receive high-quality, complete repairs and services. Endeavors is committed to helping vulnerable Floridians in need fully recover from the natural disaster. 

“My clients mean a lot to me,” Temple shares. “We’ll do whatever it takes to help.”

ABOUT ENDEAVORS

Endeavors is a national service organization that has been assisting vulnerable populations since 1969. Endeavors offers an array of services and programs supporting children, families, Veterans and those struggling with mental illness, disabilities, disasters or emergencies. Endeavors serves people in crisis with personalized services. For more information, visit www.endeavors.org

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