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Taking the keys: tornado survivor moves into home four years after disaster

Four years ago Dwight lost his home – in summer of 2023 he took the keys to his Habitat for Humanity house, and we helped move him in.

Tornado survivor, Dwight Days, worked with Catholic Charities disaster case manager, John Doyle, on navigating the many ins and outs of disaster recovery. Last summer, we delivered Dwight’s furniture to his Habitat for Humanity-built home and celebrated the closure of his disaster case file.

Four years after his home was destroyed by the tornado that tore through Jefferson City in Spring of 2019, Catholic Charities helped move Dwight Days into his new house. The home was built by River City Habitat for Humanity with funding support from the Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) managed by United Way of Central Missouri.

“We first met Dwight, a veteran, after visiting one of the schools who were temporarily housing displaced survivors in the gym,” said John Doyle, mobile resource coordinator at Catholic Charities.

Dwight’s case was one of 600 opened through the Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC). The committee brought together supportive organizations to assist with the rebuild and recover efforts. Participating in the committee with long-term disaster recovery case management services, Catholic Charities took on Dwight’s case along with many others.

“Survivors often need time to understand their needs after a disaster,” John said, “there are a lot of unmet needs to work through after a disaster that long-term disaster case management helps map out and work through.”

After a natural disaster or severe weather event strikes a community, agencies, organizations, and volunteers provide immediate relief help – clearing debris, setting up water and food stations, triaging injuries and working on short-term shelter for survivors.

John shared, “When that boots-on-the-ground recovery help wraps up, that’s where we come in.”

“We advocate for survivors to get what they need – funding, housing, furniture, replacements for lost documents and paperwork needed to pursue insurance and benefits, healthcare and mental health support are just a few examples,” he continued.

Households navigating an already tight budget often find themselves one disaster away from facing abject poverty. That’s why long-term case management after a disaster or severe weather event is so critical. With a hands-on approach, John helps navigate insurance claims, construction and repairs on homes and vehicles, maps out a budget and checks in on survivors regularly to help keep things on track for the long-haul.

“Dwight’s case was open for four years,” John said, “So it was very rewarding to see him take the keys and move into his new house.”

He continued, “We’d been in contact with him monthly since his displacement, advocating for funding, storing furniture, ready to help him move in when the build was complete on his Habitat for Humanity house – to close his case in 2023 was a relief for Dwight, and a relief for us, to see him settled and safe in his own home again.”



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