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Residential Real Estate
Jul 1, 2019

Who is in Charge of Hurricane Recovery Anyway?

Sponsored Content provided by JC Lyle - Executive Director, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry

In the nearly 10 months since Hurricane Florence, thousands of individuals, businesses, churches, civic clubs, nonprofits, and government agencies have stepped up to the plate to help our region recover from Hurricane Florence.

Many of them have joined forces in one of the Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs), also known as Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs), organized by county with assistance from FEMA and NC Emergency Management, to unite the community and streamline our response efforts. The structure of each LTRG is customized to the needs of the community but typically include committees such as Case Management, Construction Management, Volunteer Management, and Child Welfare.

Because WARM serves Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties, our staff members participate on committees in all three LTRGs. As the only permanent nonprofit in the tri-county area whose one and only mission is to rebuild owner-occupied homes of low-income families, we chair all three Construction Committees, bringing a regional approach.

These organizations serve on at least one Construction Committee with us and currently offer owner-occupied home rebuilding programs for low and/or moderate income families impacted by Hurricane Florence: Baptists on Mission, Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity, Brunswick Housing Opportunities, Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, Cape Fear Volunteer Center, Greater Currie Community Action Group, Team Rubicon, and United Methodist Committee on Relief.

WARM has been rebuilding homes since 1996. So, we were able to hit the ground running immediately after the storm, assisting those already on our waitlist.

New applications have poured in and, fortunately, so has volunteer and donor support! We’ve hired two additional field supervisors so we can help people faster while ensuring quality control and adherence to building codes.

As of June 30, 2019, WARM has completed 57 hurricane rebuilds and has 29 more under construction. 

To make all this happen, locals eagerly volunteer in groups or individually and mission teams come from as far away as North Dakota! Here’s WARM’s Volunteer Map from the past 10 months (dark blue = 2018, light blue = 2019): 

NC WARM volunteer map

The home rehab organizations in our LTRGs have reported several challenges.

  1. Out-of-town mission teams have trouble finding low-cost lodging in the Cape Fear Region and decide to go elsewhere.
  2. Rebuilding flooded homes cannot begin until the muck-out (gutting and clean-out) work is completed, which is less desirable to volunteers. Can you believe there are still homes that have not been mucked out?!
  3. Organizations just starting their rebuild programs may not be skilled in all aspects of home rehabilitation or volunteer coordination.
  4. Individual case workers may not understand the requirements of various agencies and send families to the wrong place, adding to their frustration.
The LTRGs are working to overcome some of these barriers. Can you help?

While this column is about owner-occupied rehab, the LTRG does more than rebuild homes. For example, the New Hanover County LTRG, officially named New Hanover Disaster Coalition, will hold a Hurricane Preparedness Expo on July 20th.

In all three counties, LTRG members advocate for those impacted and address issues such as food insecurity, homeless children, joblessness, and spiritual care. Nearly every social problem was worsened by Hurricane Florence.

There are still thousands of individuals, paid and unpaid, working hard to restore our community to wholeness. There is much more to do over the coming months and years. If you are not involved and want to be, there is a place for you!

So, who is in charge of hurricane recovery? Every single one of us.

JC Lyle has served as WARM’s Executive Director since January 2009. Under her leadership, WARM's annual revenue and productivity have more than quadrupled. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Lyle worked at McKim & Creed on subdivision design, rezoning and permitting throughout coastal North Carolina. Lyle earned her Master of Business Administration from UNCW's Cameron School of Business and has presented workshops on affordable housing issues and nonprofit management at state-level conferences. Lyle serves on the Planning Commission for the City of Wilmington and the North Carolina Housing Partnership, the board that oversees the state's housing trust fund. In 2012, Lyle was named Wilma Magazine's first Woman to Watch in the Nonprofit Category. In 2014, she accepted WARM's Coastal Entrepreneur Award in the Nonprofit Category, given by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Cape Fear Chapter named her Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year.

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