It’s been over four months since a severe windstorm swept through the Inland Northwest, yet for some residents, the impact is anything but distant history.
In the first quarter of 2016, SNAP is still fielding calls related to windstorm damage. Ron Gaunt, Technical Services director for the agency’s Home Improvement program, said the ripple effect of the storm has been extensive and extreme.
“There were houses just devastated, trees in living rooms and people left wondering what they were going to do,” Gaunt said.
Michael and Teri Goodman were in their Spokane Valley home when the wind began to gather momentum on Nov. 19 of last year. A double leg amputee from the effects of diabetes, Michael was a truck driver and handyman for years before health issues took their toll. He is currently dealing with throat cancer. Teri left her job at a local hospital last year to be her husband’s caregiver.
The storm left the cottonwood tree outside the Goodman’s home in shambles with branches crashing down on their roof and causing damage to the ceiling above the bedroom. Like some 250,000 other households in the region, the Goodmans lost power that night. Michael was rushed to the ER after his ventilator and oxygen tank gave out.
“It was very scary,” Teri recalls. “Just terrible.”
Where once the Goodman’s home had been a refuge from the strain of Michael’s condition, it was now a tenuous setting. Michael wanted to help but simply couldn’t.
“There was a time when he would have been up on that roof, repairing things,” Teri said. “It’s tough on him to not be able to do stuff like that.”
Teri reached out to SNAP and talked with Housing Improvement Specialist Michelle Christie about the challenge of addressing necessary home repairs while being on a fixed income with a stack of medical bills. A SNAP crew arrived on the scene and placed temporary tarps over the gaps in the roof. Before long, the repairs were made and the Goodmans once again felt safe at home.
“I don’t like asking for help – it’s tough for me,” Teri said. “When I talked to Michelle, I could tell she understood what we were going through. That meant a lot.”
Spokane County Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn saw the devastation that took place across the region as the result of the windstorm. She credits SNAP with being part of the large-scale relief effort.
“As it has done for 50 years, SNAP responded with resources and compassion to address many repercussions from the windstorm,” O’Quinn said. “So many of our neighbors across Spokane County were affected in dramatic ways and SNAP responded with a level of support that helped calm worries. We are fortunate to have a strong network of nonprofits in our community and SNAP is certainly one of those that always steps up when there is a need. The post-windstorm work they did was another example of that commitment.”
With their home restored, the Goodmans can now concentrate on the happier things in life, like welcoming a new grandchild into the world last month.
“I don’t know what we would have done without this help,” Teri said. “All I can say is SNAP was a lifesaver.”