Could you imagine not having heat through the long months of winter?
While this may seem unimaginable for many, residents of the Lehigh Valley and Eastwick neighborhood of Philadelphia are experiencing challenges like these every day. After Tropical Storm Isaias caused severe flooding across eastern Pennsylvania, individuals and families are now struggling to get back on their feet.
Making their journey to recovery even more challenging, many of the residents are elderly or have medical conditions. And most are at or just above the poverty level.
Facing Hardship: Over 120 families affected and in need of help
When homes were flooded with several feet of water, heaters and other appliances were damaged beyond repair. Over 120 families were affected. With heaters costing between $5,000 and $9,000 each, these families are facing incredible hardships. In addition to these most extreme needs, it is estimated that more than 40 families need washers, dryers, and refrigerators.
Lutheran Disaster Response –Eastern PA, alongside partners in the Lehigh Valley and Eastwick neighborhood, are actively working to bring relief to the people of these communities. In particular we are focused on case management and construction coordination to meet these challenges.
An active leader in Eastwick United, Ted Pickett, is familiar with the history of flooding that has been occurring throughout this neighborhood for the past several decades. He sheds light on the community’s larger challenges.
“The homes of Eastwick should not have been built where they are. Our neighborhood sits at the bottom of where two creeks merge, Darby Creek and Cobbs Creek. Because of that location, whenever there is a storm, flash flood, or heavy rain, many of our residents’ homes are flooded,” Ted explains.
When your home gets flooded, it’s not a short journey to recovery. It takes a really long time. You have to throw everything away that was damaged and then you need to rebuild all of that and replace it.Ted Pickett, leader in Eastwick United
Ted also describes the challenges people are facing because of COVID-19. “The pandemic makes things even more difficult. People have lost their jobs and they can’t afford the repairs or to replace the appliances that have been damaged from the flooding.” In addition to residents’ homes being flooded each year, another challenge the Eastwick community faces is their proximity to a very large landfill.
Ted notes, “In the path of the floods that we experience is one of the largest landfills in the country, Clearview Landfill. As you can imagine, this creates a whole other set of difficulties. Also, many of the homes in our community were built on silt. So now, these homes are sinking.”
Community leaders in the Lehigh Valley and Eastwick are dedicated to providing relief for their neighbors in need. Thanks to collaborating agencies, we’ve been able to provide direct financial relief for flooded residents and to advocate for support from various disaster agencies.
We are also actively guiding residents through the complicated process of obtaining resources through home heating and repair programs like LIHEAP and the Small Business Administration to repair flooded homes. Our efforts are partially funded thanks to a grant of $20,000 from the ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response program. We are grateful for these funds, but there are still so many needs we have yet to meet.
The journey to recovery is long and winding, but with your support, LDR-EPa remains committed to supporting the Lehigh Valley, Eastwick, and others across eastern PA still recovering from Isaias. As I write this letter, scores of families still need appliances and help with repairs like hot water heaters, heating systems, and mold mitigation.
With your gift, you can help those affected get through their struggles today. More importantly, your gift lets them know that you see them, you feel their pain, and you are there for them to make their lives whole again.