Between August and September 2017, three major hurricanes hit the United States. These storms had a ripple effect that caused difficult situations for many people. Hurricane Irma stormed through the Florida Keys in September 2017. In April 2018, a World Renew Disaster Response Services needs assessment team interviewed more than 500 individuals and families who had been impacted by this storm. Iris* cleaned homes in the Florida Keys before Hurricane Irma struck. The storm damaged or destroyed all of the homes where she worked, leaving her unemployed.
At the time of the needs assessment, Iris could no longer pay her rent. Instead, she and her brother, who lives with disabilities, were sleeping in their truck. Another young family from the Keys was doing fine until Irma destroyed their home and one of their vehicles. The family of four became homeless and began living in their remaining car.
Finally, after five months, they were able to move their family into a studio apartment.
“We still feel like we are drowning financially, but at least we have a roof over our heads,” they said. Daryl* is 80 years old, and, like many other people in the Keys, he lives on his sailboat. He rode out Irma on the water by tying his boat to some mangrove trees. “It was terrifying,” he said.
His boat was badly damaged and some of the safety features were destroyed. He has nowhere to go and does not have the funds to fix his boat.
To cope with his losses, Daryl is fixing a small diesel motor to use to take the boat elsewhere to find work. Hurricane Harvey was similarly destructive in August of 2017, leaving many Texans struggling. “Ten months after Harvey hit Galveston, we found many people living in moldy homes,” said World Renew volunteer Yogi Haasdyk, who led a needs assessment team in Galveston, Texas, in May 2018. Some of the houses had been gutted, but the homeowners had nowhere else to go, so they were still living in the bare shell of their houses. Others, living in hotels “temporarily,” were still trying to get back home.
World Renew needs assessment volunteers helped to identify needs like these. With the information they gathered, a local recovery group can begin to respond. “Most people appreciate being offered emotional and spiritual support and prayer. We shed many tears together,” said Haasdyk. “We cannot promise people anything concrete in terms of rebuilding, but the local recovery group is looking forward to supporting their neighbors now that they know what needs their community members still have.”
A third storm, Hurricane Maria, devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico in September 2018.
Linda’s* home was destroyed, and she was at risk of losing her children because they were homeless. World Renew is partnering with a Seventh Day Adventist group in Linda’s community; together, volunteers from both organizations built her and her children a new home.
World Renew is committed to helping hurricane survivors for the long term. Please continue to keep this work in your prayers. * Names have been changed.