Grace’s husband died two years ago. Six months later a fire destroyed three rooms of her home, so she was making-do with the other rooms in the house. Shortly after the fire, Grace, a great-grandmother, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and her health was too poor to consider tackling fire clean-up. A year had passed since Grace started chemotherapy, and she was ready to determine if further treatment was needed when Hurricane Isaac hit in late August, filling what was left of her home with four feet of water.
"Flood clean-up is hard work—it’s tedious, smelly, and exhausting... but our teams do it with a glad heart and a caring spirit."
World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) volunteer Doug Van Der Meulen and crew talked and prayed with Grace as they stood in her doorway. Bolstered by their support and assistance, Grace said yes when Van Der Meulen asked her if she wanted to start cleaning out the decades of precious family treasures she had collected.
“The team carefully cleaned off and packed each knick-knack and piece of jewelry,” regional managers Len and Carrie Blauwkamp said. “They encouraged and prayed with Grace as the work progressed. Eventually, the appliances were removed, the carpet pulled up, and the drywall torn down.
“Flood clean-up is hard work—it’s tedious, smelly, and exhausting,” Blauwkamps explain, “but our teams do it with a glad heart and a caring spirit. It’s impressive to watch our volunteers work, and it’s rewarding to hear our partners say that they enjoy working with us so much that World Renew DRS was one of the first recovery groups they turned to after Isaac hit the Gulf Coast.”
World Renew DRS has been sending clean-up and reconstruction crews regularly into Franklinton and other areas along the Gulf since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The organization completed a $6.5 million response to Katrina in 2009, building a solid 5-year reputation with other non-profit organizations and government agencies there, but mostly working closely with disaster survivors like Grace.
As Rapid Response Teams like Van Der Meulen’s continue the hard work of flood clean-up in Louisiana, World Renew DRS will begin to unroll plans for sending volunteer reconstruction teams to help homeowners like Grace who have little other assistance.
“Grace’s home and thousands of others will need rebuilding,” Blauwkamps say. “We are hoping and praying that the funds will be there to give them the help they need.”