Stories of Hurricane Michael Recovery

The Hobbses, Nowlings, Hiltons, Nixes and Rebollars – these are among the many Florida Panhandle families that suffered loss of, or extensive damage to, their homes due to Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

Vasheda Hobbs (5th from left) and family are welcomed to their new home. NFILTRG photo used with permission

They also are among families restored to new homes with the help of the North Florida Inland Long-Term Recovery Group (NFILTRG), formed to coordinate recovery services and build resiliency in the wake of Hurricane Michael’s destruction.

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is among NFILTRG’s partners. To date, it has contributed a $5,000 seed grant and funded construction management. And, earlier this year, it sent $20,000 for building materials.

North Florida Inland LTRG is one of six that UCC Disaster Ministries has helped get established in the Florida Panhandle in response to Hurricane Michael.

The NFILTRG serves Jackson and Calhoun counties. “Both counties sit 50-75 miles inland and never expected to feel the full force of impact,” said Kristy Terry, NFILTRG’s Executive Director. “Ninety percent of the structures in the two counties had damage from the storm.”

Recovery has been slow, with less-than-usual financial support from individuals, corporations, and foundations and significant delay in the approval of federal relief, Terry said. The COVID-19 pandemic also slowed rebuilding.

Hilton family comes home.

“Nonprofits in our area, as well as disaster recovery organizations, have helped keep recovery moving,” Terry said. Today, we have partnerships with organizations from all over the country, and continue to push forward to help our people recover.”

Here are some of North Florida Inland LTRG’s stories of recovery:

  • The home of William and Deserie Nowling and their three daughters was damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Michael. They moved in with Deserie’s family while continuing to work on cleaning up their property as much as they could. Finally, they connected with North Florida Inland LTR and were chosen as recipients of a new home built by AC HarvestCall. “The excitement and sheer happiness on the faces of the girls as they talked about their new home was priceless!” said Terry.
Willie Nix is welcomed home.
  • Willie Nix was recently retired after working many years at Covenant Hospice and raising two active grandsons, ages 6 and 8, when Michael did extensive damage to their home. Chipola Baptist Association provided a travel trailer for them to move into until the home could be recovered. Unfortunately, due to COVID, work was delayed and the family lived in the camper for more than a year. AC HarvestCall took on the project and recently welcomed the family to its new home.
  • Robert Hilton’s home was deemed unlivable after Michael, and he had limited resources. The LTRG connected him with Chipola Baptist Association, which provided a travel trailer as part of the pilot program between the Florida Department of Emergency Management and Calhoun and Jackson Counties. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) constructed a new home for Robert and his daughters.
Rebollars at their new home.
  • Teresa Rebollar’s home was damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Michael. Don and Cheryl Holm’s home also was destroyed in the storm. They relocated to the Santa Rosa Beach area, donating their lot to Marianna United Methodist Church, whose sister Good News UMC raised money to construct a new home on the property. Teresa and her family were chosen as the recipient. The dedication was held Feb. 25.

UCC Disaster Ministries is part of the national setting’s Global H.O.P.E. Team, which also includes Refugee and Migration Ministries, Volunteer Ministries, and Sustainable Development. H.O.P.E. makes clear the team’s vision: Humanitarian. Opportunities. Progress. Empowerment.

Categories: Disaster Updates

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