New homes for tornado survivors

By Amy Forbus
Editor

Edith Ortiz, left, and Pat Fortner share a moment of joy at the dedication of their new Habitat for Humanity homes in Mayflower. Four families displaced by the tornado that struck the area on April 27, 2014, now own new homes on the same street. AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

Edith Ortiz, left, and Pat Fortner share a moment of joy at the dedication of their new Habitat for Humanity homes in Mayflower. Four families displaced by the tornado that struck the area on April 27, 2014, now own new homes on the same street.
AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

Residents of Fortner Road in Mayflower on March 19 celebrated a dream becoming reality. Four families who had lost their homes in last April’s tornado now have new houses, thanks to a partnership between the many disaster response organizations forming the Interfaith and Partners Disaster Recovery Alliance (IFPA) and Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County.

“This partnership with Habitat for Humanity has opened a huge door to folks who might not have been able to own a home,” said Janice Mann, disaster response coordinator for the Arkansas Conference UMC who also serves as staff for IFPA. Both the Conference and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are part of IFPA.

Mann also expressed appreciation for the involvement of Christian Aid Ministries, a Mennonite organization that led much of the construction, and NOMADS (Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service), a United Methodist group that lives out of RVs to do mission work around the U.S., saying both groups’ steady presence has made a crucial difference in the recovery effort.

Before the tornado, Edith Ortiz rented a mobile home just two lots down from where her Habitat for Humanity home now stands. When that home was destroyed, she never imagined the journey of the following year could culminate in home ownership. She looked forward to a good night’s sleep back in a bedroom of her own.

“I’m ready to rest,” Ortiz said, standing in her new front yard before the dedication ceremony. “I haven’t truly done that in a long time.”

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