A year ago, two flood-damaged Holy Cross houses sat in dire need of repair while their homeowners had few options and little money to renovate. 5461 Royal Street took on 12 feet of water during the storm and its owner, Ms. Diane Johnson, was trapped in her attic for three days before being saved by a passing boat. Ms. Leona Ford’s home at 5329 Chartres Street suffered four feet of flooding and wind damage. Not only was her house devastated, but she endured a stroke and a broken leg during her evacuation to Texas. Faced with harrowing struggles, both homeowners did as much as they could to rebuild their homes, but insurance money fell drastically short. After a year of work by Rebuilding Together and hard-working volunteer groups, these two houses have gone through a remarkable transformation.
This year, eight volunteer groups arrived at 5461 Royal Street to give their time and effort to renovate the house. Rebuilding Together Denver
and Hope’s Friends arrived in May 2007 to start rebuilding efforts. A month later Operation Nehemiah, Hands On, Rebuilding Together National, and Trinity Christian Community AmeriCorps all made their mark over one week’s time. In October, local volunteers from Adams and Reese, LLP, working as part of RT’s October Build Weekends, lent their support as well. These volunteer teams repaired and replaced windows and weatherboards, installed radiant barriers, insulation, drywall, flooring and kitchen cabinets, and primed and painted the interior and exterior of the house. Combined with other services such as electric wiring, plumbing, and reframing that were performed by professionals, the volunteers’ efforts brought the home closer to being habitable again. Ms. Johnson is currently awaiting a few finishing touches before she can move in, but it will only be a short time before she can call 5461 Royal home again.
The house at 5329 Chartres had only one dedicated group of volunteers this year, with most repairs requiring professional work. During one week in October, volunteers from the American Petroleum Institute came and made energy-efficient repairs to Ms. Ford’s home. Along with donating $25,000, the volunteers installed radiant barriers and kitchen cabinets, primed and painted the interior and exterior, and planted trees around the house. Presently, Ms. Ford is only waiting for her utilities to be turned on before she can reside within her familiar four walls.
These homes are two prime examples of what Rebuilding Together has accomplished this year with generous donations and volunteer labor. Fifty-eight homes have been completely renovated by Rebuilding Together since Hurricane Katrina, and the organization is primed and ready to increase their capacity and the number of homes they can work on at a certain time. With the increased staff and volunteers at Rebuilding Together more homes will be able to experience the journey in the upcoming year that these two Holy Cross homes will soon complete.