Family Has Hope After Fleeing Irma

 Hurricane Irma evacuee Wren (left), whose home in Ocala, Fla., was destroyed, meets with a Crisis Ministry volunteer counselor to discuss affordable housing options in Buncombe County for her family.

Hurricane Irma evacuee Wren (left), whose home in Ocala, Fla., was destroyed, meets with a Crisis Ministry volunteer counselor to discuss affordable housing options in Buncombe County for her family.

Like many Florida residents, Wren and her family had lived through hurricanes. Many times, they rode out the storms in their rented home in the central Florida town of Ocala.

However, the Hurricane Irma forecasts last week felt different than previous storms. This time, Wren sensed the family would have to evacuate. She packed up her grown daughter and teenaged son, along with two young granddaughters, and they drove north.

It’s a good thing they did leave, because after the storm cleared Wren learned from her landlord that trees had fallen on the mobile home, and there was nothing left of it. There was nothing for the family to return to in Florida.

ABCCM was there to help Wren and her family at this desperate time.

As the family drove out of Florida, Wren – a history buff with an interest in geography – looked at maps to determine where they ought to go. She noticed Western North Carolina seemed protected by the mountains and it was likely the hurricane would be much weakened when it arrived. Wren and her family started to call social service agencies and were guided to Camp Cedar Cliff in Asheville for emergency shelter.

They stayed there several nights along with other evacuees, and were able to take their minds off the devastation with activities such as archery and ziplining. But when Wren learned her home had been destroyed, she was unsure where to go for help. She was directed to ABCCM and called the Crisis Ministry. Sheryl Olsen, the Crisis Ministry director, asked Wren to come meet with an ABCCM volunteer counselor to assess the family’s needs.

Although Wren knows that affordable housing is tight in Asheville, the family has decided to stay in Buncombe County for the time being, and is considering making it their new home. Sheryl gave Wren a comprehensive list of housing opportunities along with a quiet office in which to make phone calls to landlords and property managers, and some toys for her granddaughters. The Crisis Ministry also provided Wren and her family several nights in a local motel. The family also received food and clothing. Although they are still searching for a place to live, Wren is grateful that ABCCM has been standing alongside her and her family during this time.

“I’m worried about what to do next and what our future is, but I do feel like there is hope,” said Wren, who is already eager to find a church with an active youth group for her son. “I met with a counselor who was great.  I met with the staff, who was great. We can see that it’s hard to get into places to live, but I know ABCCM is working as hard as they can to help us.”

Do you know of anyone who can help this family with an affordable housing option? If so, email crisis@abccm.org to contact the Crisis Ministry.

 Wren spent most of Thursday and Friday filling out paperwork and making phone calls in her family's search for affordable housing.

Wren spent most of Thursday and Friday filling out paperwork and making phone calls in her family's search for affordable housing.