On Wednesday, February 24, Ms. Josefina Garcia and her three daughters were at home when severe thunderstorms passed through eastern North Carolina. Ms. Garcia described the experience, “I looked out through the window and everything was dark. My girls were in another room, and I ran toward them. We thought the house was going to blow away, and we were so scared.” When Ms. Garcia and her daughters exited the room, they were shocked by the damage. “We walked out of that room, and it was then when we realized the wind had ripped off the rest of the roof,” Ms. Garcia recalled.
Ms. Garcia’s brother came to her home, and together they called the fire department for help. The American Red Cross also came out to Ms. Garcia’s home to inspect the damage and assist with some of the family’s immediate needs. The next day, Ms. Elizaida Velez-Olan, a Catholic Charities disaster case manager in the Goldsboro office, was in contact with the Red Cross to assist in meeting this family’s needs. Ms. Garcia, who only speaks Spanish, was able to work with Ms. Velez-Olan, who is one of the many bi-lingual staff of Catholic Charities.
After listening to Ms. Garcia tell her story and explain the needs of the family, Ms. Velez-Olan was able to provide food cards and clothing to help the family replace items that had been damaged after the roof was destroyed. “The family has short-term needs of food, clothing, and immediate shelter that need to be met first. Then I will work with the family to assist them on their path to self-sufficiency,” Ms. Velez-Olan stated in summarizing what the family needs. Ms. Garcia is currently staying with relatives while she searches for a new home. The Garcia home and all the contents were destroyed. Ms. Velez-Olan will help Ms. Garcia in identifying a new place to live and best options for replacing the furniture that was lost.
Ms. Velez-Olan explained what Ms. Garcia’s next steps will be like, “Ms. Garcia and her three daughters have a long road to recovery ahead of them. There are a lot of pieces that need to be put back together, and I am just here to take each step with her along that path and assist where I can.”