Stories From the Recovery: Crossing the Finish Line

“What BakerRipley has done is give me a running start and I’m so blessed to have the assistance,” BakerRIpley neighbor Linda Jerrols said. “I couldn't have crossed the finish line without my disaster case managers help.”

Resilience. That’s what Linda Jerrols friends & family think she should title this Hurricane Harvey chapter in her life. The 55-year-old disabled, and recently retired, single mother of three has displayed grace and determination up against adversity, but it hasn’t been easy.

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“My stress level has been high through Harvey. At times, I just burst into tears,” Linda said. “However, I’ve held on to my faith and I know there’s a game plan for me. I feel like part of the win for me has been BakerRipley helping me recover. With them, I have a championship team!”

Linda lost everything in her Champions Forest home when five and a half feet of water flooded the house. She worked in the oil and gas industry for 32 years, traveled all over the world and at each destination, she’d purchase a collectable to fill her home. All of her culturally diverse artifacts were ruined and those treasured finds cannot be replaced.

“The waterline was over my head, so all of my worldly finds on tables and the walls were destroyed,” Linda said. “A layer of mud covered the floor, the refrigerator had floated and landed on the kitchen island, dressers floated and turned over. I was devastated.”

Linda thought she had planned ahead by purchasing flood insurance, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make her home livable. The Spring resident also fit into a segment of the population who didn’t meet the income requirements to apply for FEMA home repairs assistance.

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“FEMA denied me for home repairs because my income was too high, but they did provide a 7-month hotel stay,” Linda said. “I’ve gone through five contractors and been a victim of contractor fraud; it exhausted my life savings. I wouldn’t be this far without BakerRipley and Trinity Lutheran’s assistance.”

With her home still in repair mode, Linda turned to Trinity Lutheran Church who assisted with tearing out and installing new sheetrock in her home. Thanks to private funding from non-profit agencies, like BakerRipley and Trinity Lutheran Church, people like Linda have gotten critical assistance along their path to recovery. Linda first came to us in February when she needed prescription eyeglasses lost during Harvey. Since then, her disaster case manager, Jaime Obando, has helped her apply and get approved for the BakerRipley homeowner-managed restoration program where the homeowner manages the construction with their selected contractor. Our home restoration includes a complete bathroom renovation as well as master bedroom cabinets, pantry shelves, paint, and door knobs and trim.

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“I’m Linda’s researcher and advocate through the recovery process,” Jaime said. “In addition to home repairs, she’s been approved for unmet needs assistance for a sectional couch with ottoman, queen bed, dresser, nightstand, mattress, dining room table and chairs, which all arrived in June. I also applied for the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Financial Assistance grant on behalf of Linda and she received $2,000 to use however she needs to recover.”

Jaime recently applied for air conditioning repairs for her as well. The application has been approved.

“What BakerRipley has done is give me a running start and I’m so blessed to have the assistance,” Linda said. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford the furniture, air conditioning and home repairs. Jaime has held my hand and been my biggest supporter emotionally, plus he’s very knowledgeable. I don’t think I could’ve crossed the finish line without his help.”

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Linda credits BakerRipley’s personal touch to disaster recovery coupled with her case manager’s familiarity with available resources for helping her regain a sense of normalcy and give her hope. She’s looking forward to getting back in her kitchen and cooking and says her first meal is going to be a homemade lasagna for friends and family to come over and celebrate the next chapter in her life.