Volunteers build new house for woman whose home was damaged by Hurricane Irma

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-19 20:27:58-05

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IMMOKALEE, Fla. (WFTX ) — On Friday, an Immokalee woman who lost her home due to damage from Hurricane Irma met the volunteers who are building a new home for her and her six-year-old nephew.

“Hurricane Irma destroyed our home, to the point where it had to be demolished,” said Debbie Coe.

Volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Service in the Midwest partnered with groups such as the Salvation Army and the Immokalee Unmet Needs Coalition, after coming to Florida to lend their home-building skills to help people like Coe.

“To be able help somebody to recover and rebuild their lives, their hearts, and their homes, to give them hope…it means a lot to us,” said Philip Maneikis, project director with Mennonite Disaster Service.

Friday, several volunteers worked on the new house’s frame, which is on the same Plum Street property Coe has called home for almost a decade.

“It’s an amazing thing to see these people coming together to do this,” Coe said. “I’m so excited, and very grateful.”

Since Irma tore through Southwest Florida in September 2017, Coe and her nephew have gone from staying at a hotel, to a relative’s home, and now a camper.

But the toughest part came when she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago.

“That was kind of rough,” Coe said. “But I’m doing well, and looking forward. I feel very blessed that this is happening.”

“This is an example of what can be done,” said Dawn Montecalvo, chair of the Unmet Needs Coalition. “A home can be built. We’ll have six homes built by the end of this spring.”

Other agencies partnering in rebuilding Coe’s home, along with three other homes in Immokalee, include the American Red Cross, the Collier Comes Together Disaster Relief Fund, and Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Coe’s home is expected to be completed by the middle of March.