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BRACE Grant To Aid In Sally Recovery


Recovery efforts from Hurricane Sally one year ago will continue, for the next two years, thanks to a new grant to BRACE (The Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies.)

Totaling $300,000, the grant, from the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, is what BRACE CEO Michelle Luckett calls critical, in the face of the need that remains from Sally’s rampage — which she terms “still pretty significant.”

“BRACE has conducted 315 needs assessments, and the unmet need for construction repairs, for those cases alone, is a little over $4 million,” said Luckett. “In our community, a little bit over $600,000 has been raised towards recovery efforts. So there’s quite a bit of a gap.”

The grant allows BRACE to continue purchasing building materials and bringing in volunteers for labor.

“BRACE has a mission to work with low-income residents,” Luckett said. “As well as those residents who did not have insurance or residents who had insurance (and) received FEMA assistance, but there’s a gap between the repair cost what they have received.”

Low-income families get first dibs, then as many others as possible. Luckett says the most prevalent damage to houses is to roofs — either wind damage or debris, such as uprooted trees, hitting them. The biggest lesson out of Sally for BRACE, she adds, is the ability to strengthen their case-management program.

Michelle Luckett BRACE.png
Michelle Luckett, BRACE CEO

“The funding for that program has been done through the state of Florida instead of FEMA; we’ve utilized the Displaced Workers Grant,” said Luckett. “It’s the first time it has been utilized in the way that we’re using it, in placement of personnel to run the case management program."

Besides the financial flaming hoops BRACE is navigating, Mother Nature has also thrown somebody checks: Hurricane Ida and Tropical Storm Nicholas dumping torrential rain on the Panhandle.

“Especially with the rain that we’ve had over the last week and a half or so,” Luckett said. “Folks that are still having tarps on their roofs, or having issues with debris. These types of weather events just exacerbate that problem and make it worse.”

If nothing else, the work on houses damaged by Hurricane Sally is dispelling rumors that all damage related to that storm has been cleared up. Not even close, says Luckett, who adds most of the recovery work can’t be seen from the street.

“The tarps may be gone, but that’s just because the roof has been repaired; but when you have roof damage, you’re going to have water damage your ceiling,” she said. “You may have mold that then requires the removal of drywall. You may have electrical issues, you may have flooring issues. I can assure you that there is plenty of work still to be done.”

To apply for assistance in-home repairs related to Hurricane Sally from BRACE, CEO Michelle Luckett says the first step is to contact them. Applicants will then speak to an intake specialist.

“We’ll then do an over-the-needs assessment and we’ll talk about the kind of damage you’ve got; then from there, you’ll be assigned to a case manager,” said Luckett. “That case manager will then come out and meet with you, review the damage, and then see if the repairs you have are something we might be able to help with.”

The time frame for completion will vary, from roughly six weeks to five months, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done and the available funding. There's also a waiting list.

"And the kicker for us right now is that the funding is beginning to dwindle, but we are in the process of working through that waitlist," Luckett said. "I am working on bringing in another case manager because we still have plenty of people that need help. So, the more I can get resources in, then the more clients we can help."

More information is available at bereadyalliance.org

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.