The Florida panhandle was affected by four weather systems from April 7 through May 2, 2014, that produced historic rain fall, severe storms, tornadoes, and straight line winds.

According to 30-year PRISM (prism.oregonstate.edu) data, rainfall exceeded norms by 200 to 600 percent. More than 25 inches of rain fell over a 36-hour period, and five panhandle counties received a federal disaster declaration (sic),” said Andrea Krieger, president of the United Way of Escambia County in Pensacola.

Seeing the need, World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) came in to help. Rapid Response volunteers came to Pensacola in June because there were many homeowners who did not receive immediate help after the storm.

Some residents did not realize the extent of damage or know how to treat for water damage, while others were not physically able to do the work themselves. And although some homeowners received insurance to pay for the cost of materials to repair their home, they could not afford the cost of labor.

Etta, a victim of this flooding (pictured), was unable to do clean up on her own. The team did minor roof repair, which included shingling and flashing, power washing, and various clean-up inside her home. With gratitude, Etta said, “It’s a blessing you all help people…may God continue to bless you for helping people. Thank you God for sending you all.”

Our DRS Rapid Response team helped a number of residents diagnose and fix their flood-damaged homes. At Roselyn’s home, volunteers helped remove moldy drywall and apply Shockwave, a mold treatment, on open studs and flooring. On other homes, like Gina’s, DRS volunteers helped tarp her roof and remove damp insulation. The team also helped take out damaged drywall, carpet and tile from hallways and bedrooms, treat for mold, and cover roofs with tarp to temporarily keep any future rain out.

In September, World renew DRS conducted a needs assessment, going both door to door, making phone, calls, and hosting a walk in center to talk face to face with residents who still had flood and storm related needs. Financial, household, emotional, and physical needs were taking into account and complied for the long term recovery group, Be Ready Alliance in Emergencies, or BRACE. World Renew DRS building estimators also provided BRACE with personalized construction estimates for 59 homes.

Soon after, BRACE invited World Renew DRS into a long-term partnership in which World Renew DRS would open a reconstruction site, sending back to back teams of self-contained volunteers to do home repairs for homeowners in need.

On January 10, 2014, the first of many reconstruction volunteer teams began working on rebuilding and repairing homes in Pensacola, Florida. “We anticipate doing home repair through 2016,” says Ron Willett, World Renew DRS Director.