Nearly one year ago, NECHAMA began the process of rebuilding homes with our partner, IOCC in Saint Charles Parish, LA. Currently, four homes are in the process of being rebuilt. Today we want to share the story of our most recent addition, Ms. Powell.

Ms. Powell’s family has been living in the home since 1951- she has lived there her entire life. Her father was a preacher at the church next door for around 50 years. As her parents aged, Ms. Powell took care of them in that same home. She loves to cook and makes a special point to do so on Easter, Thanksgiving, and New Years.

When Hurricane Ida came, Ms. Powell rode the first few hours out under her kitchen table until rescue was able to come. Though her home is cinderblock, the storm damaged her roof and allowed water to pour in, as well as breaking nearly all of her windows. Ms. Powell was able to move into a FEMA trailer and has been living it for over a year and a half now.

One year after the storm, NECHAMA was able to come in and gut the home to prepare it for rebuilding. Since then, we have begun the work of giving Ms. Powell’s home a new life. So far, we have reframed the entire inside of the home and replaced damage to the flooring structure. We paid special attention to creating a space that was fully accessible for Ms. Powell’s wheelchair.

With reframed walls, we were able to run all new electrical throughout the home as well as installing central heat and air conditioning. This is the first time Ms. Powell has had central heat and air conditioning so she is very excited! Most recently, our partners with IOCC have been able to replace the damaged windows in the home. Our next project will be to build a ramp to allow Ms. Powell easier access to her home.

It has been a long wait to move back home, and Ms. Powell had the good fortune of the use of a FEMA trailer to stay on her property. Families at many of the homes we are working on are also staying in FEMA trailers. Families who use FEMA trailers are currently being charged a reduced monthly rent, at the request of the State of Louisiana.

It is more important than ever to continue the work that we started, allowing families to move back home.

And partnerships make this work possible! One important partnership we have is with the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster (NVOAD for short). NVOAD helps foster more effective delivery of services to communities affected by disaster. They also leverage sponsorships and funding opportunities to support ongoing response and recovery work.

NECHAMA received a grant through the 2022 Lowe’s Reconstruction Grant (Fall Cycle) administered through NVOAD in the amount of $5,000 to purchase insulation. Insulation not only keeps homes warm in the winter, but cool in the hot Louisiana climate. Funds through this grant make it possible for our teams to purchase the needed insulation for Ms. Powell’s home and others. Check out the photos of insulation purchased at the local Lowe’s store being installed in Ms. Powell’s home by one recent AmeriCorps NCCC team we hosted!