HOME AGAIN — Family moves into new house 3 years after hurricane destroyed childhood home

Published 12:38 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

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Kerinique Jenkins was born and raised on 11th Street in Orange.

Her mom died approximately four years ago, but Jenkins remained dedicated to her childhood home.

She fixed it up, moved in and took over, and then, Hurricane Laura delivered surprising wrath in August of 2020.

The house and most of its contents were damaged beyond repair, forcing the large family into the arms of others while they attempted to rebuild.

Jenkins had resided in the home, along with her sister, and their children.

Things began to turn around when she noticed Orange County Disaster Rebuild’s social media post informing residents of available services. The Orange County-based organization helps survivors recover, repair and heal following to natural disasters.

The result was a multi-year recovery effort that concluded this month when a team of Orange County Disaster Rebuild, Team Rubicon, World Renew Disaster Services, Salvation Army, DRC Construction and Church of Christ unveiled a brand new home complete with appliances and furniture.

“The incredible amount of teamwork between local partnerships and volunteer teams made it a reality, and we are so grateful,” organizers said prior to the unveiling.

The team gathered on the morning of May 12 to reveal the finished home to the owner and hand her the keys.

Jenkins represented her family. Her sister, who was at work, participated in the unveiling by teleconference. Although Jenkins found herself at a loss for words, she expressed being overwhelmed and thankful for having her home restored.

After Jenkins qualified for help, Team Rubicon assisted with the immediate response by clearing debris and eventually removing the damaged home.

Team Rubicon’s mission is to assist communities that have suffered as a result of natural disasters. Services are free of cost and usually involve immediate relief work. In Orange County, Rubicon’s funding of and hands-on work that aided in the rebuilding of the Jenkins home was the first of its kind.

Team Rubicon volunteer Chris Cotton, who has a background in architecture, designed plans for the home.

Team members tried to keep the same footprint of the outside of the house changed the inside of the house with the intentionality of providing everyone their own bedroom and creating an open space for family get-togethers.

Orange County Disaster Rebuild Executive Director Michelle Tubbleville said funding is generated from different avenues.

“It comes from foundations, it comes from around the area, it’s just community foundations that gave money to use to put back into the community for those that need it,” she said. “To access assistance post disaster, homeowners go through a case management process.”

— Written by By Shari Hardin