CENTRAL FLORIDA (April 30, 1998) -- Dedicated volunteers from around the country have begun to rebuild the
first of more than 100 homes destroyed by violent central Florida storms
As part of a Community Development Block Grant secured by Seminole County,
$20,000 of building materials are being supplied for each of the first
seven homes to be rebuilt. Thanks to an expedited county permit process and
funding for much of the building materials, volunteers with Mennonite
Disaster Services (MDS) started work in early April on the first three
According to Lester Glick, project director for MDS, the agency hopes to be
able to build seven 1,200 square foot homes by the end of the summer.
Volunteers from other organizations will join MDS later this Spring to
provide relief for more of the people who have been left homeless by what
has been called, some of the most violent weather in Central Florida
As a result of a series of storms that included severe flooding and
tornadoes, as many as 3,000 homes may have been damaged in the three
hardest hit counties of Seminole, Osceola and Orange, according to Jody
Hill, executive director of Florida Interfaith Natural Disaster (FIND).
FIND provides coordination and funding assistance to local interfaith
organizations that are being formed in the disaster-striken area.
Although not all of the assessments have been finished, Hill said FIND
members believe there may be at least 100 homes that will need to be
rebuilt. Unlike the block grant monies available in Seminole County, many
of the rebuilds will depend on funds provided by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), insurance claims and donations, she said.
Local interfaith organizations in each disaster area will help coordinate
assistance to victims as final assessments are completed. Other faith-based
organizations including the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran
Disaster Relief, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance are all expected to
provide funding and/or volunteers to aid in the long-term efforts during
the next six to 12 months.
In Seminole County, however, residents may be able to move into the first
of the Mennonite-built homes as early as June.
In nearly all cases, the new homes will be better than the ones that were
destroyed and the homeowners get a chance to play an integral part in
deciding the design and colors of their homes, Glick said.
"We will give them more space and make the house more secured than what
they had before," Glick said. "They never expected to have a house of this
kind of construction with the different appointments and finishing
touches." Labor is being provided by volunteer teams from up and down the
east coast who come to Florida to work for a week. Some are retired but
others have arranged time off from employers to help disaster victims. In
many cases, they have helped in other disasters and are excited to be
involved again, he said.
"It's a catching mania. One of the best resources we have are the people
who have done
it before," Glick said. "It's an exciting opportunity to be a part of this
kind of thing."
"Our hammer brings us together for a common noise, but our spirits bring us
together for a common purpose."
Posted April 30, 1998
More links on Severe Weather