A few household essentials were enough to bring Brenda Lambert nearly to tears.
After losing everything in the April 27 tornado, the Mayflower resident was grateful for every dish, towel and hanger that Catholic Charities brought to her new residence on Monday.
The tornado took the trailer that was Lambert’s longtime home. Since then she acquired one trailer that "fell apart," and now she is setting up housekeeping in a second, used doublewide that she is very happy with.
"I lived in that old trailer for 40 years," she said. "The tornado happened for a reason, I guess. Even growing up I never had anything as nice as this. I get lost in it right now."
Lambert is among those eligible for help from Catholic Charities because she had no insurance and received little assistance from FEMA following the disaster. She said the funds she received from FEMA weren’t enough for the doublewide, but her brother helped with the rest. Now she needs to get water and sewer lines hooked up, air conditioning installed and underpinning in place.
"The guy who fixed the roof — he told me, ‘That roof is going to fall through.’ He said it is in terrible shape," she said. "I’m just scraping to get by."
However, Lambert was all smiles as she looked through the assortment of household cleaning supplies, new dishes, a toaster and a blender that Catholic Charities brought.
"Oh my gosh, more?" she exclaimed. "I’m so excited."
She said of Catholic Charities, "When I have a problem I call Clara or someone up there. They have helped me so much with paperwork I don’t understand. They’re a blessing. That’s all I can say. I don’t know what I would have done without them."
Tracy Eichenberger, disaster preparedness and response coordinator for Catholic Charities of Arkansas, said the organization normally works out of Little Rock but has set up temporarily in Conway to be closer to the victims of the tornado.
"We have two case managers," she said. "We focus on the elderly, those who are on a fixed income, the disabled, single moms with children and undocumented immigrants. If they were uninsured, particularly, we try to assist them. If they apply to FEMA and don’t get very much, we assist them with an appeal for additional funds."
She said Lambert’s home was a total loss, but Catholic Charities is also helping those who did not receive as much assistance as they needed to make repairs.
"We try to assist them with resources in the community," she added. "The clients don’t necessarily know about all these resources.
Eichenberger noted the Salvation Army has grants available for tornado victims. Two of her clients have acquired appliances through the Salvation Army grants.
Also, she said, "If we know of things they need we can pick them up at the warehouse."
Case worker Clara Avila said, "We’re trying to get the word out that we have help to give. In Mayflower we’re not getting a lot of people coming to us, and we see a lot of need."
Avila speaks Spanish and is eager to help members of the Spanish-speaking community.
For assistance, call 501-246-9088, for Spanish, call 501-764-2290.
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)