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Team Rubicon helps families recover from hurricane damage

To The Leader

Veteran-led disaster relief and humanitarian crisis organization Team Rubicon has been working on a long-term program that launched Dec. 1, 2020, supporting the community of Orange following the damage of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. So far, Team Rubicon has rebuilt eight homes, eight are currently under construction, and 25 homes are approved for rebuild across the Gulf Coast. It is one of the very few organizations that has remained onsite following the storms and is already prepared to respond to the storms that form this hurricane season.

Jerry Kovatch, 77, was born and raised in Orange and has lived in the home on Polk Ave since 2015. An auto mechanic for over 40 years, Jerry enjoys working on his Chevy and hanging out with his son, daughter in law and grandson that live next door.

When the hurricanes came through late last year, Jerry evacuated with his family and came back to a home that sustained damage to the roof and ceilings. A piece of the ceiling later fell on his head, and he experienced post-concussion syndrome.

Despite his age, Jerry is no stranger to adventure. To his children’s dismay, he cut down the limbs on the surrounding trees with a chain saw to ensure no further damage would result in future storms. Jerry is a hardworking, charismatic family man who is doing his best to stay positive while living in the house still needing repairs. He is hopeful Team Rubicon can take on his case and he can return to a safe home and be free to enjoy spontaneous adventures.

Cory Kovatch, 40, and his wife Elizabeth, 47, have been married for six years. Cory was born and raised two doors down from the home on Polk Ave and as a kid would say “I’m going to buy that house one day.”

He purchased the house in 2017, fulfilling his dream while also ensuring he can take care of his father Jerry who lives right next door.

Aside from Cory and Elizabeth, the household consists of their children Miguel, 22, Nickolas, 16, and Zoie, 13. When the hurricanes hit, the family did not evacuate, and Elizabeth recalls the experience being frightening as the wind knocked over 14 trees around their property.

The recovery process has been slow and made more difficult by the fact that Cory and Miguel lost their jobs during the pandemic. On top of that, Elizabeth was diagnosed with colon cancer in January 2020. Although she had a successful surgery afterwards, she has had to seek employment as a cashier to pay the hospital bills.

To Cory and Elizabeth, home means stability and achievement. Cory dreamed of owning the home as a kid and is proud to raise his own kids there. Elizabeth attended 13 different schools growing up and being able to settle down means a lot to her. They both got married on the corner of the property and it holds many happy memories that they are hopeful Team Rubicon can restore through repairs.