Marlene was among homeowners affected when Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017 devastated Volusia County on Florida’s east coast, destroying dozens of homes and leaving thousands in disrepair.
Her roof suffered serious damage, and her bathroom and kitchen were knocked out of service. A tarp was affixed to her roof and, for a year and half, she traveled back and forth to her daughter’s house next door when she needed the kitchen or bathroom.
Living on a small, fixed income, she could not afford the necessary repairs.
Then she got a call from VIND – Volusia Interfaiths/Agencies Networking in Disaster, the county’s only long-term disaster recovery agency assisting low-income hurricane survivors who have exhausted all other resources and still have unmet needs.
VIND estimates that 350 to 500 homeowners in the county have unmet needs totaling a staggering $7.5 million. Donations of labor, materials and funds are the only hope for helping them all. UCC Disaster Ministries is supporting VIND with funds ($150,000 to date) and recruitment of volunteer work teams.
Marlene’s recovery came April 8-14 at the hands of a 12-member mission team from Evangelical Reformed UCC in Frederick, Md., Christ Reformed UCC in Middletown, Md., and St. Paul’s UCC in Fleetwood, Pa. (pictured above with Marlene, center).
"The main work was putting on her new roof, repairing and installing a new toilet and sink, and bringing her kitchen plumbing back online," said the Rev. Barbara Daniel of the Frederick congregation. "Marlene worked with us and was so grateful for what the group had done."
Grateful indeed. In a thank you note to the work team, Marlene wrote, "Every nail hammered, every stroke of the paint brushes, all the cleaning and all the extras that you all did was very much appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with each and every one of you. You guys need to be CLONED!"
Added Daniel, "So much happens on these work trips. There is great satisfaction in helping someone get their home back in order. Beyond that, there is also the joy of working together on a common purpose with people you know, and making some new friends.
"I have done work camps in a number of places. The set up in Daytona Beach is among the best. Not only did VIND staff provide good direction, they often worked side-by-side with us. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we are scheduled to return in March 2019."