Foundation offers grants to Northland nonprofits hit by floodKyrie Sherman has been rebuilding her life with her two children this year with the help of Duluth’s American Indian Community Housing Organization. But she hit a major setback June 20 when her first-floor apartment was flooded.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Kyrie Sherman, who says she’s a victim of domestic violence, has been rebuilding her life with her two children this year with the help of Duluth’s American Indian Community Housing Organization.
But she hit a major setback June 20 when her first-floor transitional housing apartment on North First Avenue West was flooded with mud and water, and almost everything in it was destroyed.
Flooding from Cascade Park a block and a half above the home opened a storm drain that sent currents of water, sewage and mud down the avenue and into homes, said Michelle LeBeau, acting executive director of AICHO. Two of those homes belong to the housing organization and are called Oshki Odaadiziwini Waaka’Igan, or “a place where we dream of new beginnings” in Ojibwe.
“For anybody to lose all of this stuff, it’s hard, but especially someone who is in transition like this and working very hard,” said Jaime Miller, the homeless and housing coordinator for AICHO. “Your things are even more precious.”
Besides the damage to Sherman’s apartment, the basements in both homes filled completely, destroying water heaters and boilers. There was no flood insurance.
Because of that and the plight of other area nonprofits suffering from flood damage, the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation stepped in to create the 2012 Flood Immediate Response Fund.
“The Community Foundation saw a serious gap in the funding for flood disaster relief,” said Holly Sampson, president of the foundation. “The Northland Foundation has created a business recovery fund, and the United Ways across the region have created long-term recovery funds. So the missing link is those nonprofit organizations that have experienced significant losses as a result of the flood on June 20. We are looking at short-term responses.”
On Friday, the Community Foundation gave $5,000 to AICHO to help cover the estimated $37,000 in damages. The fund holds $115,000: $75,000 from the Community Foundation, $30,000 from the St. Paul Foundation and $10,000 from the F.R. Bigelow Foundation.
Sampson said the Community Foundation has received several calls from service delivery nonprofits whose services have been disrupted because of the flood. The transitional homes, which house five otherwise homeless single mothers and their children, didn’t have hot water for several days. They were showering at the Duluth YMCA.
“That’s a high priority,” Sampson said.
Most grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000. Requests for less than $5,000 will be decided within a week.
If the nonprofits later get Federal Emergency Management Agency money, Sampson said, they will reimburse the Community Foundation’s response fund.
Sherman was moved temporarily into an apartment in the second transitional house, which has been declared structurally sound, and AICHO will work to clean and renovate the first house to get her back in as quickly as possible. That means some shuffling of residents, Foss said.
Floor coverings, sub-flooring, cabinets, baseboards, appliances, the bathtub and toilet have all been removed because of damage. Sherman lost beds for her kids, ages 6 and 2, clothing and everything else that wasn’t high on a shelf or touched by mold.
“Even my plants had mold on the dirt after two days,” Sherman said. “The air in here was horrible.”
Transitional housing is a rarity in Duluth, said Kelly Foss, case manager for the two homes.
“It’s important for the community to have this available,” she said. “There are people who need it. A shelter is one thing, but it’s hard to go from a shelter to ‘back on your feet.’ It’s a big transition.”
The organization has applied for grants elsewhere and is about halfway from meeting its damage estimate with the money from the Community Foundation, a St. Paul nonprofit called Open Your Heart, and a secured energy rebate.
Sherman is grateful for the help, she said, both from AICHO and from those willing to help out flood victims.
“I lived in a shelter for three months before this,” she said. “Having a place of my own is quite awesome.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For information about the application process to the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation’s 2012 Flood Immediate Response Fund for nonprofits, contact Jon Blevins at (218) 726-0232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.