There’s only one thing standing in the way of a group of 16 people coming to St. Charles Parish and rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Ida for free – a place for them to stay.
Kacy Kernan, United Way St. Charles director of community impact, is leading the charge to find a suitable housing solution for the eager volunteers.
“Rebuild United is a United Way of St. Charles led initiative to help St. Charles Parish residents who were impacted by Hurricane Ida,” she said. “All funds raised for Rebuild United are managed with zero administrative costs by the St. Charles Parish Long Term Recovery Group.”
Kernan said UWSC utilizes disaster case management and volunteer labor groups to provide support to families and help get them back into their homes.
“We are working in partnership with the St. Charles Parish Long Term Recovery Group, Catholic Charities, Nechama – Jewish Response to Disaster, IOCC Disaster Response, World Renew and St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services,” she said. “I’m looking for either a very large house that could accommodate eight couples or two houses near each other. We could also do multiple units in one building or one open building that volunteers could temporarily separate out into private areas. We are very open minded. They just need access to water and a kitchen.”
Kernan said the group hoping to come to the area and help are married couples.
“These are retired, skilled workers,” she said. “They did this type of things as a career and now just want to give back.”
The volume and quality of work these workers are able to produce, Kernan said, is amazing.
“In the eight months that they’re here they’ll be able to do 30 totaled houses or 80-100 partial projects,” she said. “Their value for an eight-month stretch is about $1 million.”
UWSC, in collaboration with the St. Charles Parish Long Term Recovery Group and Rebuild United, has put months of work into this rebuilding initiative. They first invited World Renew Disaster Response into the community after the storm to assess residents’ continuing needs.
“There are currently 1,500 plus families still in trailers provided by FEMA or IDA Sheltering and 300 plus families already prescreened with documented needs that will not be met by FEMA or their insurance,” Kernan said. “As a community, we implemented our own Disaster Case Management Program in September.”
Disaster Case Managers worked with the client, FEMA and insurance providers to ensure that residents have exhausted all appeals and the true unmet need is determined. Once DCM was complete, the case was presented to the St Charles Parish Long Term Recovery Group Board for approval. The St. Charles Parish Long Term Recovery Group set the priorities of low income, elderly and/or disables, single parent household and veteran for assistance.
Once approved, the client moved on to the rebuilding phase of the program.
“Not all cases will be rebuilt through our program,” Kernan said. “Some smaller cases may be assigned to local volunteer groups for assistance with very small jobs or the client may be approved for a small
amount of financial assistance to complete their home through their existing contractor. Each case is different based on the resources that have already been put in to the rebuild and the resources that are available to the family we are working with.”
Kernan said cases approved to be rebuilt were turned over to a construction manager.
“We have a part time construction manager who works to make sure that all permits, licenses and supplies are acquired,” she said. “He also works with the volunteers to assign jobs and oversees all rebuilds until completion.”
To contact Kernan regarding a possible housing solution, email email@example.com.