Habitat homes weather the storm
Hurricane Irma made landfall in Marco Island on September 10th as a strong category 3 hurricane, just miles from many Habitat homes and Habitat Collier’s main office in East Naples. As our staff and partner families took cover in shelters or amongst friends and family, we prayed for the best possible outcome, not knowing what the aftermath of this incredible storm would bring.
Thankfully, we emerged to find that the damaged sustained during the height of the storm was much less severe than predicted. Habitat Collier has built more than 2,000 simple, decent homes in our community, and after the storm those homes are all still standing tall. They withstood Hurricane Irma’s wrath with no significant structural damage—lost shingles and minor cosmetic issues making up the majority of damages reported.
“Sorry Hurricane Irma, our houses are built with love!” says Legacy Lakes homeowner, Gaby.
Neighbors helping neighbors
In the days before Hurricane Irma, we saw our partner families come together to board windows, clear yards, secure property, and to make sure everyone had a safe place to be– together as a community. After the storm, the story is no different. Our staff has visited Habitat neighborhoods and homes around the county and found that neighbors quickly came together to clear debris, pick up fences, and to offer a helping hand to one another in this time of need. While there is still plenty of work to do, Habitat families are doing it together.
For those who lost shingles in the storm or sustained other damage to their roofs, teams of Habitat volunteers and staff have been on-site helping to place tarps to mitigate any damage until Habitat families are able to work with their homeowner’s insurance companies to make permanent repairs.
“Habitat isn’t just about building homes, it’s about building lasting partnerships with families in our community,” says CEO Lisa Lefkow.”That means we’re still here to offer a hand long after sweat equity is complete and mortgage papers are signed.”
These same families may not have had anything to come home to if it weren’t for their Habitat homes. In the trailers and makeshift apartments where many Habitat homeowners have lived before partnering with Habitat, we’ve seen a much different story: roofs completely gone, walls torn away, and some units completely caved in or blown over. Natural disasters like Hurricane Irma serve as a grave reminder of just how vulnerable our population is, particularly those at low wage-earning levels. They have the least access to secure, well-built housing.
In times like these, we are especially thankful for the support of all of our friends, donors and volunteers who make it possible to offer people a hand-up out of these deplorable and unsafe conditions into a safe, decent home where they can feel secure, even in the worst of circumstances. Because of your support, these families live in neighborhoods where people are kind to one another and there is a strong sense of community amongst neighbors. Your gifts of time, talent and treasure have allowed families to move from truly inadequate housing to well built, safe homes. Thank you for all that you have done for these families and all that you continue to do as we work toward the vision of the day when every family in Collier County has a safe, decent place to live.