Grimaldo breaks ground for new home with help from local officials

(Submitted photo/Ashley Jones) Pictures are members of The Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, Dalila Grimaldo and her family, Embassy Suites by Hilton Fort Myers Estero, Immokalee Chamber of Commerce (Cherryle Thomas and Estil Null), Habitat for Humanity, Immokalee Unmet Needs Coalition, Catholic Charities of Guadalupe Social Services and neighbor.

By Lisa Loren
Special to the Immokalee Bulletin
Fearing the worst as Hurricane Irma approached Southwest Florida, Dalila Grimaldo and her husband left their beloved home to stay with their son in a more secure location. The moment they felt it safe to return, they rushed to inspect the damages. They were heartbroken to discover the extent of the destruction wrought by this devastating hurricane.

Although the Grimaldo’s had been in Immokalee for 40 years, they had been fortunate to weather the previous lesser hurricanes with little issues. This time would certainly be different as they struggled to come to grips with all that needed to be done. Immediately they could see that their roof was compromised.

Nothing, however, prepared them for the scene when they opened their front door to find the ceilings completely falling apart onto the floor from the weight of the torrential rains. This deluge of water onto their floors was an even greater concern. Stability was non-existent. The floors were (to quote the homeowner) “squishy” as well as uneven, which created a huge trip hazard for this senior couple. Safety was a constant source of anxiety. To complicate matters further, their severely limited income was well below the poverty line. The first step was to complete the FEMA application. While they doubtfully awaited a decision from FEMA, by necessity, they remained living in this precarious position.

The family did not have homeowner’s insurance. Fortunately, FEMA did award funds for both property damage and rental assistance. As landowners, they were determined to find a way to repair their home and diligently saved every penny possible. Unfortunately, the integrity of the structure was so compromised; it was imperative that they find alternate housing.

They put down deposits for an apartment, electric, and water. Sadly, Mr. Grimaldo got deathly sick and passed away in September of 2018, barely one year after suffering through Hurricane Irma. Dalila mourned her husband’s death, and everything in her life stalled. She vacated the apartment and returned to the unsafe home.

This widow indeed needed help to transition from disaster victim to disaster survivor. Through our partnership with Team Rubicon, Paradise Coast Builders, and Mrs. Grimaldo’s remaining FEMA funds, we can build a new home.

Although Mrs. Grimaldo was hopeful that we could help her save the home that holds so many treasured memories of the life she shared with her husband for so many years, she understands the integrity of the structure was so compromised, that it was unsafe to repair.

Disaster Case Manager: Clara Herrera.

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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