For flood survivor Tony Kiser, saying this past year has been tough is a significant understatement. Tony served our country in Vietnam and lives with a chronic and debilitating illness. When the flood struck last September, he was renting a low-income apartment in Loveland. It was damaged in the flood waters and the eight men who lived there, including Tony, were displaced. In addition, Tony lost vehicles and most of his possessions.
After the flood, Tony struggled to find housing. For periods of time he lived in a disaster relief shelter, storage unit, or in whatever space he could find with friends. His situation was compounded by the tragic loss of his “life and soul mate” just before the floods.
Unfortunately, the man who owns the rental building Tony was living in decided not to rebuild for housing. Tony was not eligible to receive rental or storage assistance from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association).
Also, because of a pre-flood problem, he also was not eligible for low-income housing or apartments through the Housing Authority. Tony began to work diligently with UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Case Manager Pat Marrs and the Larimer County Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) filing appeal letters, obtaining documentation, etc., and together they slowly pulled Tony out of the downward spiral.
After much work by Tony, Pat and the LTRG, he was approved into a very nice, low-income apartment last month and is slowly furnishing it with the help of gift cards from various faith-based groups, including United Methodists. One thing that is often forgotten is that even when people like Tony receive low-income housing, they generally have to start from scratch to replace everything. Together with the LTRG and Pat, Tony has made a list of the basic supplies he needs for minimal day-to-day activities, and he is slowly building a home for himself.
“Tony’s situation is not uncommon, unfortunately,” said Pat Marrs. “There are many flood survivors that, for various reasons, cannot qualify for government programs designed to help people in situations like the Colorado floods. This is the unique role that the faith-based community can play.”
Faith-based communities, like United Methodists, strive to “serve the underserved.” The Rocky Mountain Conference, through a grant from UMCOR, offers resources to flood survivors that provide disaster case management, volunteer coordination, project management and financial support. In Tony’s case, like many others, that’s just what he needed to get his head above (flood) water.
Click here to get more information about the Colorado UMCOR team and its continuing work with helping flood survivors.