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Hurricane RecoveryNews

Building hope after Hurricane Ian

By March 2, 2023March 20th, 2023No Comments

Left: The roof damage on Jametria’s home from Hurricane Ian. Right: Jametria at the Habitat Admin Office when she selected the color of her shingles for her roof replacement as part of the Hurricane Recovery Home Repair Program.

At Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, our work focuses on strengthening the community by building, improving, and repairing homes. Since Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida, the need for safe and decent shelter has been exacerbated. Countless residents in SWFL are struggling, living in unsafe or unlivable housing conditions.

In response to this need, we developed a Hurricane Recovery Home Repair Program to partner with low-income families in Lee County to rebuild their homes. Our team has worked diligently over the last few months processing applications and engaging disaster-trained volunteers to assess what repairs need to be done on homes. Now, we are partnering with qualified families to begin long-term recovery construction work. One of those families is a single mom of three, Jametria.

Jametria’s Habitat home when she closed in 2000.

In 2000, Jametria purchased a Habitat home at the age of 21. Thirteen years later, she proudly attended a mortgage-burning ceremony to celebrate paying off her house. Since then, she has been enjoying her stable home and quiet neighborhood. However, Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction that has permanently impacted her home and family.

While Jametria’s home is in central Fort Myers, her extended family lives off Gladiolus in the Harlem Heights area. Because of their proximity to the water, Jametria’s family always shelters at her home when a hurricane threatens Southwest Florida. But this time, it was different. While Hurricane Ian did cause damage to Jametria’s roof, it also created a storm surge that rose to 15 feet, destroying many homes in the Harlem Heights community—including those that belonged to her extended family.

“We were all there together as we have been in the past. But [it was hard] to know that they had lost everything the day after the storm,” recalled Jametria. “I felt like it was a blessing that I just had roof damage.”

Though the damage to Jametria’s home felt like nothing compared to what her extended family experienced, she still needed an expensive roof replacement.

“I didn’t know how I would do the repairs,” Jametria explained. “I didn’t have the money to do the repairs myself, and I had been denied by FEMA—so I really didn’t know.”

However, what she did know, was that Habitat could help. In December of 2022, she applied to our Hurricane Recovery Home Repair Program and, two months later, was approved for a roof replacement and other minor home repairs.

Plus, Jametria has opened her home to the 14 family members who lost everything during the storm. For the past five months, she admits her home has felt crowded, but she is happy to be able to help others.

“It was a blessing to know that I could be there for my family and to give them a place to stay,” Jametria shared. “That I had a home for them to be able to come and shelter through the storm and after.”

Because of the generous support of Hurricane Recovery Home Repair donors, Jametria’s home repairs will begin later this month, and she and her family will soon have a safe and stable roof over their heads.

You can help Habitat serve more low-income homeowners, like Jametria’s, to rebuild after Ian.

Your gifts are urgently needed to fill a funding gap for our $1 Million Match. Help us reach our goal of partnering with more than 350 families to rebuild their homes over the next two years. All gifts made to Habitat’s Hurricane Recovery Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million thanks to the generosity of The Edwardson Family Foundation and an anonymous donor. Click here to donate.