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Residential Real Estate
Jul 15, 2019

Hurricane Florence: A Source of Grace and Hope

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

Diane and her daughter Phyllis live 12 minutes apart. Before Hurricane Florence, they each had their share of tragedy.  
 
Diane lost her husband and her son several years ago and has been struggling to pay her bills. Somehow, she has managed her income well enough to hold onto the home she and her husband purchased together.
 
Phyllis and her husband had a house fire and lost almost everything. Her husband started to repair the damage but did not complete it before he, too, passed away.
 
Both widows watched nervously as Hurricane Florence churned toward them, knowing their homes may not be able to withstand severe weather. Hurricane Florence caused extensive roof damage to both homes. Emotionally exhausted and desperate for help, they attended a resource fair and learned about WARM.
 
Diane wrote on her application that she needed WARM “so I don’t have to go live in a homeless shelter. God Bless You.” Both women qualified and were among the first Hurricane Florence rebuilds WARM completed.
 
Something else remarkable happened! When our assessment team visited their homes, we discovered their pre-storm needs. Diane needed flooring repairs and a ramp so she can safely navigate her home with her walker. Phyllis’ home was still not finished from the house fire.
A student from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa volunteers on a WARM hurricane recovery rebuild as part of an alternative Spring break trip in April. 
You see, Hurricane Florence led us to Diane and Phyllis, but they needed our help long before her winds blew onto shore. Believe it or not, Hurricane Florence was a source of grace and hope for two women who may not have asked for help otherwise.
 
Hundreds of other qualified homeowners wait for assistance from WARM and our nonprofit and church partners. In a recent partner survey, these were the top 10 unmet needs (in no particular order):

  1. Furniture
  2. Appliances
  3. Mental health services / suicide prevention
  4. Rehousing fees such as utility deposits and first month’s rent
  5. Muck and gut; mold remediation
  6. HVAC repair/replacement
  7. Partial rebuilds/repairs for those still living in the home
  8. Total rebuilds for displaced families
  9. Temporary affordable housing
  10. Permanent affordable housing
At this point, nearly one year after the storm, the people who have not fully recovered are the ones who were already experiencing barriers to self-sufficiency before the storm. Florence has made their problems worse, causing them to finally ask for help.
 
Together, we can help them go beyond hurricane recovery to overcome their pre-storm problems. We can turn the tables on this disaster and ensure some of the most vulnerable among us have a brighter future than they would have if Florence never made landfall here.
 
Wouldn’t that be amazing?

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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