Help After Disaster: How One Tampa Woman Refused to Give Up

Disaster Relief & Emergency Services

Regardless of your level of emergency preparedness, hurricanes affect everyone differently. Helen’s story shows how disaster case management programs can help in even the “smallest” situations.

The thing about natural disasters? They hit everyone differently. Especially hurricanes.

A deadly combination of high-force winds and torrential rainfall, hurricanes are violent storms that can knock down trees, raise up creeks, and push even the most well-built homes to their structural limits.  

However, one of the most sinister (and most common) hurricane after effects can go unnoticed for weeks: mold.

When Helen O’Leary discovered mold growing in her home after Hurricane Irma, the results could have been disastrous. Thankfully, the Endeavors Disaster Case Management program stepped in to help…and the results were inspiring.

Disaster Case Management in Florida- a home has help with flood damage and mold after Hurricane Irma

Helen’s Story: A New Life in Florida

When Helen moved to Florida several years ago, she came hoping for a better way of life. Though she was living with a disability and making do with a fixed income, she was able to purchase a reliable mobile home.

At the time, she was told she wouldn’t have to purchase hurricane insurance because the home was “inland enough.” She took the advice and settled in to enjoy the Sunshine State.

Then, Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017, wreaking havoc across the central part of the state.

The damage to Helen’s home was thorough. Water damage had seeped into various parts of the residence, leaks dripped from various corners of the roof, and repairs were obviously needed. However, when she completed an application with FEMA, she was told that she did not qualify for assistance because the home was still technically “habitable.”

Refusing to Give Up

Helen, however, was not giving up quite yet. She moved on to contacting county resources. However, she was quickly informed that assistance had run out for mobile home owners within her county.

She still wasn’t going anywhere. She had worked hard to secure her home, and it meant too much to her to leave behind. Helen decided to live with the leaking roof and tackle the problem herself. She started to save up money for supplies.

Disaster Case Management in Florida- a home has help with flood damage and mold after Hurricane Irma

The Issue Grows Worse

Fast forward one year: Still determined to stay in her home, Helen had reached her limit. The home that once promised a sunny existence now leaked with any kind of rain and wind. The interior was the opposite of the cozy dwelling she had once imagined. Instead, it felt musty, moldy, and damp all the time.  

Not only that, but Helen and her roommate began dealing with increasingly alarming health issues, from trouble breathing to joint problems and depression.

When Helen performed a mold test, the results were unsurprising: the home was contaminated. It was time for a change.

Disaster Relief In Tampa Becomes a Reality

When we met with Helen in 2018, she was afraid for her life. CT scans proved that she was suffering from lung damage, and help seemed far away.

However, our incredible Disaster Case Management team was ready with disaster relief resources and points of connection. Helen’s case manager was able to complete applications for Helen through Red Cross Direct and Complex needs. She was awarded $6,500!

Finally, the home could be repaired. At this point, the mold was creeping along the walls, ceilings, and even the A/C filters. Helen hired a handyman in record time, and they were able to reseal the roof, tear out walls, replace insulation, and purchase new A/C units.

Disaster Case Management in Florida- a home has help with flood damage and mold after Hurricane Irma

One Final Step

It seemed like Helen’s case was closed. Walls had been replaced, and it appeared that the repairs to her home had been fully completed. However, the mold returned with a vengeance.

Helen registered with Rebuild Florida in December 2018, but never received an application, always being told that they were “processing registrations.”

Helen went back to her Endeavors case manager, and they started working on estimates. The Disaster Case Management team presented the case to an Unmet Needs Committee with estimates for repairs on May 31 of 2019.  

A New Chapter Begins

Finally, after a long and arduous process, the case was approved! Helen received a new roof, mold remediation, and hotel lodging during the process.

We called Helen recently to check in. When she picked up the phone, she broke down crying. “I was so afraid of losing everything…now, I’m on the road to recovery. I’m so grateful for Endeavors’ assistance in this process.”

What is Disaster Case Management?

Like Helen, many people in need of Disaster Case Management discover their issues after the emergency buzz has died down.

If you find yourself facing issues after a disaster or emergency, we urge you to contact Endeavors!

When you contact us, we are able to create a disaster recovery plan and execute it quickly by referring you to the right resources in your community. Whether you need construction and repair or health services, Endeavors wants to help you find your footing after a disaster.

Overall, we want to provide a strong connection between people in crisis and organizations and businesses willing and ready to meet their needs.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one are in need of disaster assistance, we would love to connect with you. We are passionate about serving vulnerable people in crisis, improving their quality of life in innovative, personal ways. Click here to connect with someone from our team and learn more about the many ways Endeavors® can help!  

In addition to providing Disaster Case Management and Emergency Services, we also help connect military families to clinics, provide emergency staffing services, create long-term recovery plans, and far more.

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