Major grant will keep much-needed Northland flood help comingA day of hard work by a squadron of college students made all the difference for Noel and Pat Pearman in preparing their flood-damaged Hunter Lake property for winter.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
A day of hard work by a squadron of college students made all the difference for Noel and Pat Pearman in preparing their flood-damaged Hunter Lake property for winter.
“I feel like winter can come; my heart’s at peace and I won’t have any dreadful surprises when spring comes,” Pat Pearman, 66, said on Saturday from the couple’s century-old homenorthwest of Duluth that was surrounded by water after the unprecedented June flooding in the Northland.
Twenty students from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., volunteering under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity, descended on the Pearmans’ one-acre property on Oct. 27. They shoveled out the garage, installed shelves, repaired a bunkhouse and scrubbed hundreds of rusted tools with Coca-Cola and steel wool.
The volunteers and the Pearmans found each other because Pat Pearman had signed up for a case manager when she applied for a Small Business Administration loan to help pay for flood damage. Adam Palan, a disaster case manager, and Ilsa Peterson, volunteer/community coordinator for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, connected with the Pearmans and found the volunteer crew to meet their needs.
A $500,000 grant announced today will enable Palan, Peterson and other case managers to continue serving the hundreds of Northland residents still struggling to recover from flood damage to their homes.
The grant was announced by Holly C. Sampson, president of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, with the money provided by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation of Eden Prairie, Minn. The Cargill grant will be distributed in three areas, a Community Foundation news release said:
* Supporting Lutheran Social Service’s disaster case managers, who serve as third-party advocates for their clients.
* Addressing unmet financial needs through the Long-Term Recovery Committee, which is housed at the United Way of Greater Duluth.
* Assisting area nonprofits that were affected by the flood.
Exact distribution of the money is yet to be determined, Sampson said in an interview. Nonprofit agencies will need to apply for shares of the money. But case managers will be among the priorities.
Lutheran Social Services has a staff of eight case managers, a volunteer coordinator and a reconstruction manager appointed for the flood relief effort, said Drew Digby, regional long-term recovery coordinator. While the agency had funding for initial costs of the crew, additional financing was needed to keep them on the ground.
Case managers generally are needed for between 18 months and two years following a disaster, Digby said. The recovery committee in Wadena, Minn., just shut down operations last month, a little more than two years after a tornado hit that community, he said.
Almost everyone affected by the flood at least has a secure place to spend the winter, Digby said. But there’s still an immense amount of work to be done to bring homes, garages and lots back to pre-flood condition, and not all of the work is covered by state and federal programs.
“It’s not like a small disaster, where an insurance company covers everything,” Digby said. “In this one, a million different pieces have to come together.”
The Pearmans say they’re luckier than many of their neighbors. They bought their property in 1996 and moved in full time in 2003 after both had retired from their jobs in the Twin Cities. But first they built a garage and lived in it while remodeling the cabin, including a fateful decision to raise it by 2 feet. Because of that, they were able to stay at home throughout the flood and its aftermath, although they worried when curious boaters passed by, producing wakes that threatened to slosh into the house.
The rest of the property, including outbuildings, their driveway and Pat Pearman’s three gardens, was a mess. The SBA loan helped, and their sons came up from the Twin Cities to help when they could. Pharmacy students from the University of Minnesota’s Duluth campus also pitched in. But the Pearmans still faced mountains of cleanup tasks. Pat Pearman, who has rheumatoid arthritis, was limited in what she could do, and Noel Pearman, 74, suffered a stroke a month ago.
With winter approaching and much left undone, the Habitat for Humanity crew from Concordia was a godsend, Pat Pearman said.
“I was thinking that we should hire a handyman or something,” she said. “But what they accomplished in a day would have taken weeks (for) a handyman.”
Pearman has told some of her neighbors the difference her case manager made. “I hope more people apply for it,” she said.
The Cargill grant will continue to make that a possibility.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” Sampson said. “This is just great news.”
Who to contact
Here are the people to call if you need flood relief:
For individuals — disaster case managers, (218) 499-9480; floodhomeswithhope.org
For businesses — Northland Foundation, Erik Torch, director of grants, (218) 723-4040; firstname.lastname@example.org
For area nonprofits — Duluth
Superior Area Community Foundation, (218) 726-0232; grantsinfo@dsacommunity