- Tuesday, 18 September 2018
- Published Date
- Written by Villalba Online
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Through FEMA’s VALOR, nonprofits receive materials and equipment to perform minor repairs so many families may return home while permanent repairs are planned.
BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico – Hurricane María survivor Francisco Diffut remembered what crossed his mind when he saw 20 volunteers standing outside the remnants of his home.
“They said more were coming but I thought that wasn’t true”, he said. “Then a van full of people appeared. When I saw all those other people arrive, I was so stunned I just cried.”
Diffut and Iris Mateo Rivera couldn’t go back to their home until three days after Hurricane María made landfall because of debris-blocked roads. They found their house had lost its tin roof, wooden walls and practically everything in it. They were left with only the stove and refrigerator.
“We felt our world had ended,” said Diffut.
They registered for FEMA assistance that same night and the agency later provided funds to make their home habitable. Diffut was recovering from an illness, which meant he wasn’t able to physically contribute much to the rebuilding process. They needed all the help they could get.
Their church referred them to an organization that uses materials paid for by FEMA. Centro de Ayuda Social, Graneros Del Cielo, Inc., a voluntary organization with over 20 years of experience helping the people of Bayamon, identified the reconstruction of the roof as a top priority. More than 40 volunteers worked on the property.
Through FEMA’s Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repair program, or VALOR, nonprofits receive materials and equipment to perform minor repairs so many families may return home while permanent repairs are planned.
FEMA has provided $5.2 million for home repair materials that volunteer agencies have used to repair 1,351 homes.
“We qualified for FEMA’s VALOR program and that has been the biggest blessing we’ve encountered because having the desire to help is not enough. They’ve given us the tools for us to reach out to every home and every family in extreme need,” said María Torres, director of Centro de Ayuda Social.
The Diffut household continues working on permanent repairs to their home, but thanks to the combined efforts of volunteers and FEMA, they have a roof over their heads and a place to call home. With tears in his eyes, Francisco said his family had recovered hope.
For more information on the VALOR Program, please visit https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2018/01/20/voluntary-agencies-launch-home-repair-program-survivors.
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