[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
28476: Hermantin(news)Volunteers' repair work after Wilma `a blessing' for poor in Bell (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Volunteers' repair work after Wilma `a blessing' for poor in Belle Glade area
By Chantal Abitbol
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
June 20, 2006
Belle Glade · Eight months after Hurricane Wilma, Iris Taylor still covered her
roof with a blue tarp and collected leaking water in buckets because she
couldn't pay to get it fixed.
Help finally arrived when a crew of volunteers turned up on her doorstep in
Belle Glade early Friday.
About 440 people from Haitian communities in Palm Beach and Broward counties --
and out of state -- have swarmed into the storm-battered communities of Belle
Glade, Pahokee and South Bay since June 12 to gut homes and replace roofs.
The legion of carpenters, electricians, nurses, plumbers, doctors and engineers
represent the nonprofit Community Development Foundation.
By Thursday, the group plans to fix up about 211 homes, said foundation
Director Quetel Osterval, who runs it from his cyber café, Utel, in Boynton
"This is a blessing," said Taylor, 57. "I'll sleep better at night not tossing
and turning, wondering how I am going to get this damage done."
Her situation is like that of many from the low-income area living in damaged
homes because they can't afford repairs.
"I thought I was in a third-world country. It doesn't look part of the United
States," Osterval said, after driving through the area a few months ago.
That's when he realized something needed to be done.Many homeowners are single
mothers or the elderly, he said.
"They can't really help themselves," he said.
Since November, the group has organized three missions to Mississippi and
Louisiana to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
In April it sent a team of 40 to knock on residents' doors here to assess
repairs and costs. The offer: If homeowners secured the materials, the group
would provide the labor.
Last week, busloads of volunteers shuttled in to begin work -- but they hit a
Most homeowners had failed to secure permits and materials, said Houston L.
Tate, Belle Glade city manager.
That stalled work until Wednesday in Belle Glade, but some volunteers in
Pahokee and South Bay were able to start earlier because the cities waived the
permit requirement, Osterval said.
Jean Louis, 27, a contractor from Delray Beach who immigrated to the United
States in 2000, took 10 days from work to help out. "I have to sacrifice to
help people," he said, just before he laid the last shingles on Taylor's roof.
Many Haitian immigrants feel an obligation to contribute to their new homeland,
"Haitians cannot just stand there in the front of the immigration building and
hold up a sign and say we need this," he said. "We need to be a part of the
rebuilding of this country."
Chantal Abitbol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-272-3189.
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel