*Client name changed to protect their privacy in this story.
In September of 2018, Hurricane Florence ravaged Renee’s home of 20 years. The storm tore her home apart, causing the ceiling to cave in and floodwaters to rise through the floors. Devastated as she was, this is the home she shared with her late husband and Renee refused to abandon it – she worked hard to salvage what she could.
By the time Renee reached out to Catholic Charities for assistance, the mold and mildew in the home were starting to affect her health – but it was her inability to care for her granddaughter that brought her to us. Renee’s granddaughter needed a new home, but for DSS to place the child in her custody, the house needed to be fully repaired. Though Renee had resigned herself to “make do” with the damages, she knew she could not keep her granddaughter safe under these conditions.
In August of 2019, numerous local agencies and volunteers came together to start working on her home, but the group soon realized that there was severe structural damage. The beams underneath the home were rotted and it was deemed too hazardous for Renee to inhabit. These damages also made it difficult for volunteer agencies to assist.
For several months, Renee relied on the hospitality of friends and family while Catholic Charities staff worked with the Cape Fear Volunteer Center and UMCOR to find a way to complete the rebuild of her home. It was a blessing when New Hanover County began accepting applications for the Disaster Recovery Act Project (DRA), a program granted to the county by the state with enough funds to repair approximately twenty homes.
Catholic Charities staff shared in the excitement with Renee when she was accepted into the program and the process of rebuilding and repairing her home began. It took a few months for the work to be completed. Fortunately, the DRA funds had provisions in place for temporary housing.
Finally, on April 17th 2020, 580 days after Hurricane Florence made landfall and almost ten months after starting her recovery journey, Renee became the first resident to move back into her home thanks to the DRA Project. The house has been completely transformed and is now safe, sanitary, secure and beautiful! With everything finally coming together, Renee is most excited to finally have her granddaughter living with her and start building a new life together.
Renee is an inspiration to all. Her story is one of true resilience, because no matter how long it took or what hurdles were thrown at her, she remained strong.