Three Years After Hurricane Laura, Two Sisters Come Home

Julie H. Case

On May 12, Team Rubicon welcomed home the 27th family in its Gulf Coast Rebuild program.

Less than three years after launching its Gulf Coast Rebuild project in response to Hurricane Laura, Team Rubicon has welcomed the 27th, and final, family home. 

Born and raised in Orange, TX, Kerinique and Kyra Jenkins share the home, which was left to them by their mother, with their two sons. When Hurricane Laura hit, the four evacuated safely, but the house fared less well: A tree fell across the roof, causing debris and water to penetrate the home. Worst of all, Kerinique had just finished fixing up the home when the hurricane hit. “When I found out that the tree was in the house, I was hurt,” Kerinique said. 

As essential workers—Kerinique in home healthcare and Kyra in criminal justice—both were at the front lines of the pandemic while also dealing with the devastation of their home. Which is where Team Rubicon came in. The disaster response nonprofit was informed of the plight of the home by a local long-term recovery group in the fall of 2020 and included it in its Rebuild program shortly thereafter. 

Team Rubicon’s support in Louisiana and Texas after Hurricane Laura initially started within hours of the 2020 hurricane’s landfall, when dozens of volunteers—known as Greyshirts—hit the ground to clear roadways to help first responders. In the days and months following, Team Rubicon deployed more than 1,000 Greyshirts to Orange, TX, and Lake Charles, LA, and surrounding areas to help tarp roofs, remove hurricane debris, and muck damaged homes. Once the majority of that cleanup was complete, Team Rubicon decided to launch a Gulf Coast Rebuild project in hopes of helping the communities of Orange and Louisiana’s Calcasieu Parish both recover from the hurricane and build resilience toward future ones. 

Team Rubicon’s Gulf Coast rebuild project was made possible in large part by PXG and the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. In 2020, PXG Founder and CEO Bob Parsons, a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War Veteran, committed to challenging donations dollar-for-dollar, in the end donating $2 million to support the effort.

“Hurricane Laura ravaged the Gulf Coast. I saw the damage first-hand in the quiet following the storm,” Parsons shared. “I also witnessed Team Rubicon, and the many veterans who make up its ranks, fall in to resurrect the devastated community. Knowing that the last family is finally headed home, well, that means the world to me.”

Proceeds from the Two Million Dollar Challenge allowed Team Rubicon to continue serving the people of Louisiana and Texas with long-term recovery. “This partnership allowed us to welcome dozens of families back home and return to their everyday lives,” said Art delaCruz, CEO of Team Rubicon. 

To put money back into the local economy, Team Rubicon hires contractors from the community with resilient home repair in mind. Depending on the damage, repairs may include roof and floor replacement to a total home rebuild, including interior and exterior improvements. 

Team Rubicon takes an all-hazards approach to its Rebuild program, incorporating resilient building materials and methods wherever feasible to mitigate the adverse effects of future hazards while addressing the community’s current recovery needs. The approach prioritizes building to Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) Fortified standards, where possible.

Of the 27 homes in the Gulf Coast Rebuild project, 17 were built with Fortified Roof standards designed to prevent damage that occurs during high winds, hurricanes, hailstorms, severe thunderstorms, and even tornadoes up to EF-2, according to the IBHS. An additional home was built to an even higher standard—Fortified Silver—which, in addition to reinforcing the roof, offers impact protection to windows and doors, bracing to chimneys and gable ends, and more. Team Rubicon has continued to make investments in increasing the resiliency of homes and has been incorporating Fortified standards into rebuild projects since 2019. It’s essential, according to the organization, since the homes being rebuilt are almost always in areas that are repeatedly experiencing hurricanes and severe storms. 

Team Rubicon’s Rebuild program began in Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and has expanded to communities throughout the U.S. It currently has five Rebuild programs in progress—Houston, TX; Selma, AL, after Hurricane Zeta in 2020 and tornadoes in March 2021; Louisiana after Hurricane Ida; and Kentucky after the December 2021 tornadoes. To date, Team Rubicon has rebuilt or repaired more than 650 homes across the nation and repaired hundreds of roofs in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

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