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Indiana groups reach out

For one man in Waverly, Ind., the past few years have not been easy.

BY HEATHER MOYER | WAVERLY, Ind. | July 1, 2005

"He’s having a tough time having experienced so many losses at once, but each day he’s getting stronger."

—Kevin Cox

For one man in Waverly, Ind., the past few years have not been easy.

Living in the White River floodplain just outside of Indianapolis, his home has flooded three times in five years – the most recent flood hitting in January. He also lost his son last winter.

Enter the Indiana chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (IVOAD) and Hope Crisis Response Network (HRCN). The two disaster relief coalitions and their member agencies are going to rebuild the man’s home for him – but this time it will be a little different. 

“We’re going to knock the house down and raise the foundation substantially,” said Kevin Cox, president of IVOAD and CEO of HCRN.

Cox added that they are doing all they can to meet the man’s requests – which include not moving him from the floodplain. “He lost his son, and all their best memories were on this property.”

The construction started last weekend when a crew from the American Baptist Men removed the concrete porch from the home. Other involved agencies include Mennonite Disaster Service, Indiana Crisis Assistance Response Team, and the American Red Cross. Cox said 84 Lumber is also giving the coalition a great break on prices for this rebuild.

“It’s so wonderful to see such a collaborative effort – everybody’s been involved,” he noted.

To help the project along, Cox said they are relying almost entirely on volunteer labor.  Skilled laborers like plumbers, carpenters and electricians are especially needed. The home is more than 100 years old, so its age and condition worked against it as volunteers assessed whether they could just raise it without completely rebuilding. “We determined that it is more feasible for us to replace the home rather than raise it,” Cox explained.

So far, several local Waverly churches have stepped up to help the man. Volunteers from Mt. Gilead Community Church regularly check in him to see if he needs anything, and Cox said a companion program run by Indiana Crisis Assistance Response Team (ICART) really helped bring the man out of his shell.

“He’s having a tough time having experienced so many losses at once, but each day he’s getting stronger,” said Cox.

The Waverly home is the only one hit hard by the flooding in January, but IVOAD and HCRN are helping in other areas of the state affected by floods and tornadoes in the past year.

Cox said IVOAD is assisting with rebuilding homes in Marengo after a tornado devastated that area in the spring of 2004. A rebuild team from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) is constructing five new homes there.

In the southwest Indiana town of Hazelton, work continues for a neighborhood that also suffers from repeated floods. Cox said he stays in touch with a local pastor, who is also a representative for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, helping to build trust in the close-knit, impoverished community that is resistant to outside help.

“He’s trying to make an impact and gain that trust so we can come in to help,” explained Cox.

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