Volunteers from Shiloh Church work Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, to help Jessica Brady’s house in Harrison Twp. The rebuilding project is the first tornado-damaged home to be repaired through a partnership of non-profit organizations formed following the Memorial Day natural disaster. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

First repair job by tornado recovery group is single mom’s home

A widow and single mother’s house damaged in Memorial Day tornadoes is the first to get repaired by a partnership of nonprofit organizations formed to help survivors who have no insurance or lack enough FEMA assistance to rebuild.

The work was coordinated through the Miami Valley Long-Term Recovery Operations Group, which came together a few weeks after the tornado.

Jessica Brady feared her house on Swallow Drive in Harrison Twp. would never get fixed, including her 7-year-old son’s bedroom that was destroyed by a falling tree. Her husband, Jimmy, died three years ago on Memorial Day, and she couldn’t afford homeowners insurance on her own, she said.

“I was paying Vectren, DP&L, buying groceries, and I didn’t expect a tornado to come,” she said. “I kind of let the insurance go.”

INTERACTIVE MAP: See where thousands of properties were damaged in Montgomery County tornadoes

Brady went to FEMA and was approved for $3,000, “which didn’t even put a dent” in repairing the wall and the roof.

“I got a little bit discouraged that I wasn’t getting anywhere,” she said.

Brady’s fortune reversed Thursday as more than 20 volunteers from nearby Shiloh Church dug into repairs on her garage, exterior windows, siding — and put her son Jagger’s bedroom back together.

“I can’t even describe the excitement,” she said. “My son didn’t even want to go to school today. He just wanted to stay home and see his room fixed.”

Following her husband's death, Jessica Brady was forced to stop paying homeowners insurance to help make ends meet. Then the home where she still lives with their son Jagger was hit by a Memorial Day tornado. About two dozen Volunteers from Shiloh Church through Rebuilding Together Dayton worked Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, to help repair the home in Harrison Twp. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart

The Long-Term Recovery Operations Group’s housing committee has been working on the “very complicated puzzle” of figuring out the process of getting uninsured homes repaired through a variety of grants, gifts, donations and volunteer labor, said Amy Radachi, president and CEO of Rebuilding Together Dayton. The work could take years to finish.

One piece of the puzzle fell into place last month with $5 million in funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati’s Disaster Reconstruction Program. Brady is an early grant recipient.

Andy Howell, president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, said the grants help keep communities intact following natural disasters.

MORE: Tornado assistance helpline now taking calls

“In many cases, we see when this happens that communities might fall apart, residents leave, they don’t rebuild, they don’t come back,” he said. “And we want to help maintain the integrity of the community and help it thrive and survive moving forward.”

Along with Rebuilding Together Dayton, the other groups forming the local housing recovery nucleus in Montgomery County include County Corp, Habitat for Humanity and Miami Valley Community Action Partnership.

Rebuilding Together Dayton organized the Shiloh Church volunteers who will work on Brady’s house through Saturday.

MORE: Not all tornado survivors sign up for FEMA assistance

“There are a lot of unmet needs, and that’s where we come in,” said Michelle Hausman, a program director with Rebuilding Together Dayton. “For a lot of the homeowners affected by the tornadoes, they might not have homeowners’ insurance because it was deciding between that and medication or food.”

The path of the most destructive tornado, an EF4, went right through some of Montgomery County’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in Trotwood and in Harrison Twp., where 15 percent of all parcels were affected.

Jessica Brady and her late husband, Jimmy, are seen with their son Jagger. Following Jimmy's death three years ago, Brady stopped paying homeowners insurance to help make ends meet. Then the home where she still lives with Jagger was hit by a Memorial Day tornado. Volunteers from Shiloh Church through Rebuilding Together Dayton worked Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, to help repair the home in Harrison Twp. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart

“Especially in areas that were hit, a lot of homeowners already had issues with their houses, and this has just added onto their worries,” Hausman said.

As many as 35 volunteers will be at Brady’s house today and nearly that many on Saturday, said Sue Cox, Shiloh Church member who is also on Rebuilding Together Dayton’s board.

PHOTOS: Tornado outbreak in Miami Valley

Usually in the fall, church members travel to repair housing in Appalachia. But this year the mission trip will be only blocks away from the church on Philadelphia Drive at North Main Street.

“We are really happy to do something in our immediate neighborhood following the tornadoes,” Cox said.

Many survivors with insurance have already had homes repaired or started the process. Those in limbo without means to make repairs should call the 211 HelpLink number to connect with a case manager who can identify resources and help survivors achieve recovery goals, according to officials.

Brady said help will come to survivors, but it will take patience.

“Don’t give up. Just keep trying,” she said. “Somebody will help you.”

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X