April 13, 2012

Volunteers are needed for tornado disaster recovery in Henryville

Special to The Criterion

HENRYVILLE—In its continued effort to provide support for the people whose lives were devastated by the tornadoes that ripped through southern Indiana on March 2, Catholic Charities in the archdiocese is seeking volunteer teams to help rebuild homes from now through August.

The first wave of volunteers who responded to the devastation have left the area, according to Catholic Charities officials. Yet, there is still a great need to provide long-term recovery, which means rebuilding and repairing homes, outbuildings and fencing.

Currently, an estimated 50 percent of homeowners are uninsured or underinsured, and will need cash assistance and volunteer labor to rebuild their property, Catholic Charities officials noted.

The area has been declared a disaster zone by Federal Emergency Management Assistance officials (FEMA). While homeowners will receive cash assistance from the federal government, it is often not enough to cover all the costs of rebuilding and repairing homes. FEMA also does not provide assistance for damage to land and outbuildings, according to Catholic Charities officials.

Volunteers are specifically needed who have experience in building fences, repairing barns and doing general construction.

Groups of volunteers are also being recruited to rebuild homes in the area. Expertise in plumbing, replacing electrical wiring, and stripping and replacing drywall is needed. So are volunteers to paint, landscape, install kitchen cabinets and help with a variety of tasks that need to be accomplished to get homeowners back in their houses, Catholic Charities officials said.

Officials are seeking volunteer crews of five or more people. In those groups, there should be at least one trained adult with experience in home repairs who will lead every four untrained volunteers, ages 15 and older.

When volunteer crews are assembled and the dates they are available to help have been determined, they should register at www.archindy.org/cc/disaster.

Before groups register, Catholic Charities officials ask the volunteers to consider these points:

  • When registering, it will be helpful if you already have a date or dates scheduled when you and your group can help. Also let Catholic Charities know if your group could come with just a couple of weeks’ notice.
  • Remember that the area where you will be helping is a disaster zone. Debris and metal ended up in unexpected places, including yards and fields. Some debris sticks out of the side of concrete buildings. Houses and other structures are no longer reliable or sound. Black mold could be and will be growing in many homes.
  • There are many ways to help. Even if you can’t physically help to rebuild a house, you can hold fundraisers to purchase Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart gift cards. You can remember in your prayers the families affected by the tornado damage. You can also form a team to spread the news about the different ways people can volunteer and help in the area. †

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