She quickly got up and ran towards the sound. When she opened the door to her spare room, she saw what happened – water damage caused the ceiling to collapse.
Rhonda’s story began more than four years ago. Hurricane Irene swooped up the Eastern Seaboard in August 2011 with 120 mph winds and intense rain that left damage and destruction from the Carolinas to New Brunswick, Canada.
After the storm passed, Rhonda checked over her house for damage and decided it was fairly minor. Although it wasn’t visible from the outside, the wind had loosened the roof shingles so that rain began to creep into the structure of her home.
However, North Carolina was pounded by storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and high winds after Hurricane Irene occurred, and the repeated stress on the roof of Rhonda’s house expanded the unseen damage. By the fall of 2014, the wind and rain had compromised the integrity of the roof, and the ceiling of the spare room collapsed.
Rhonda continued to live in her home for a year after the roof fell in, but the house eventually became unlivable. She was in a bind: she couldn’t afford to make the repairs, and the house was no longer safe. Rhonda was just about ready to walk away from the whole thing when she was approached by a representative of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, a World Renew DRS partner in her area. The representative told Rhonda that she would soon receive volunteer help from World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) to rebuild her house.
World Renew DRS volunteers were in North Carolina for six weeks in November and December 2015, but they were not working on storm repairs from 2011. They were repairing homes that were damaged by tornadoes in April 2014, and one of the homes they were rebuilding belonged to a man named Ray*.
Ray said that the damage that the tornadoes caused to his home made him feel sick and angry. “But as DRS volunteers worked on the repairs, Ray’s dismay and stress started to improve,” said Bonnie Wiersma, a volunteer who worked on Ray’s home. “When his house was completed, Ray said that his difficult journey of recovery taught him more about what it means to ‘let God be God and trust Him.’”
When World Renew DRS volunteers were then alerted to Rhonda’s need, they gladly added her home to their work roster. “We are so happy that we were working in the area when Rhonda’s situation came to light,” said volunteer Lois Hecksel. “She had been living in a home with a leaking roof for years. There was so much structural damage from the exposure to storms and rain that the ceiling was bound to give way at some point.”
However, the lives of Ray, Rhonda, and the DRS volunteers were about to intersect in a way that no one could have anticipated. Ray, who knew what it was like to lose his home, realized that Rhonda would need help and encouragement in the recovery process, so he rallied some friends and collected funds from his church community to help Rhonda fix her home.
“World Renew DRS is committed to helping people like Rhonda, whether it’s one week or five years after a disaster”
“The whole community was involved in the work on Rhonda’s house because Ray stepped in to help,” Hecksel said. “he was so grateful for the help that he received that when he heard we were going to help Rhonda repair her house, he was inspired to come by to lend a hand, too.”
In just a few weeks, the volunteers had worked together to fixed the walls, floor, ceiling, and roof of Rhonda’s house, repairing all of the damage from the last four years of exposure to storms and weather. But Rhonda’s experience is not unique. People with disaster-related needs often wait months or years for help to make repairs to their home after a disaster.
“World Renew DRS is committed to helping people like Rhonda, whether it’s one week or five years after a disaster,” said Ron Willett, World Renew DRS director. “Even though DRS volunteers were responding to a more recent disaster in North Carolina, we realize that some disaster survivors never receive what they need to recover. World Renew DRS is there to help, often in ways that only God can design.”
You can help others who, like Ray and Rhonda, are unable to recover from a disaster on their own.
Please give today to North American Disasters 2016 to support the immediate and long-term response to the recent U.S. flooding along the Mississippi River from Winter Storm Goliath and other disasters in 2016.
*Name changed for privacy.