South End flooding picture from July 20, 2021

A flash flood event in July 2020 caused a levee to break in Contrary Creek which damaged around 200 homes on the South Side of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph Habitat for Humanity has received a $20,000 grant to help out in the South Side area affected by flooding last summer.

The grant came from State Farm, and Habitat Executive Director Cate Manly said her organization determined where to direct the funds based on the relationships made during the previous year when Habitat volunteers were working inside homes with area residents.

“The $20,000 has been identified for some of the homes down in the South End already, and we’re really looking forward to getting some more people home,” Manly said. “The area still has a lot of need.”

This grant adds to the $500,000 the United Way calculated was donated earlier this year for flooding relief that came from area charities and nonprofits. Besides spending money to repair homes, many of the organizations donated labor, but that expense is unknown since volunteers performed a majority of the work.

Habitat International asked its local volunteers to pull out of the South Side after there was a surge in COVID-19 cases locally last summer. Many other groups had to follow suit because there was no emergency declaration from the state or federal government.

“We look forward to this spring and summer to be able to help more,” Manly said. “In April ... we have some more insulation that we’ll be able to give, and so we’ll make sure that we announce that.”

The grant from State Farm requires Habitat to educate area youth on disaster response. It’s an important lesson to learn, and if you take the South Side flood for example, many of the residents had only an hour at most to make their decisions.

“Talk about what would happen and what do you do. You know, everybody finds a local space that they’re gonna meet up for families who might be displaced,” Manly said. “Hopefully, some of the youth, who had great ideas themselves on the Zoom call, will never have to live through a disaster.”

Ryan Hennessy can be reached at ryan.hennessy@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.

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