In November I listened to an inspiring interview on NPR’s “The Takeaway”, hosted by John Hockenberry. The discussion was about disaster preparedness – or, more to the point - disaster unpreparedness. The severe weather over the holidays and the resulting chaos had me thinking about this interview once again. The discussion was about how few people are truly prepared to respond to a disaster. And the trick to this issue is that individuals and families really need to look to themselves and their communities as their own first responders. If it’s difficult for trained, professional responders to get to your community right away, then you will be dependent upon your own supplies for that interim amount of time. And if you are the home on the block that has prepared, might you not feel called to share that preparedness with the most vulnerable in your community? In fact, experts say that you should plan to do so. Essentially, you are preparing not only for you and your family, but also for those around you who will be in need of emergency supplies.
In the Close to Home marketplace we have many small homes for sale. A buyer can take their pick – from micro homes to shipping container homes to yurts and back to tiny homes on wheels. A buyer will find an array of choices on our site. We created the marketplace concept at Close to Home because we want to empower people who are looking for housing after a disaster. We understand that housing needs are different in various communities – there are needs for varying price points, aesthetics, size, etc. in order to appeal to people living in vastly different communities. And we want to empower people with choice and an option to live small as they rebuild alongside their neighbors.
Back in 2011, the United States saw a housing crisis of sorts – a housing crisis that followed the rash of tornadoes that hit the United States in record numbers that year. The number of deaths due to the tornadoes was 551, with the damages totaling 28 billion U.S. dollars. Close to Home recognized the [...]
Yes, the news can seem dire. Another tornado, a storm, a flood, lives lost, homes destroyed, families and their larger communities devastated. The cameras and news teams leave after the major tragedies are caught on film. Then what happens? Good things. Good things happen. Volunteers come out of the woodwork. Some are with highly trained crews; others are individuals from a neighboring town. Even more are locals. More people come because the same thing happened to them a few years ago. The common thread between all of these people who show up to help is that they want to do good work. They want to feel helpful, connected, to give hope and possibility at a time when it is hardest for the victims to see that possibility.
At Close to Home we are working to get our products out into the world – to the people who need them. We’ve spent some time this last fall learning more about the needs for housing in Pateros, WA a community that lost about 100 homes due to the wildfires of this past summer. They are one of the communities impacted by the Carlton Complex wildfires – which impacted numerous communities within the beloved Methow Valley (around 300 homes were lost in total). The recovery efforts are in full swing – especially with the coming of spring and better weather for building.
I sit here on this Saturday evening, excited and ready to launch the Close to Home Marketplace this coming week. This project is one that started for me back in 2011. It’s been a really interesting learning journey – one that I’ve taken with numerous friends, both old and new. The news cycles of [...]
We chose the name, “Close to Home”, last summer, during a group brainstorming session within the Seattle business incubator, “Kick”. We wanted to convey our work at its core – post-disaster housing solutions – available to help keep a disaster-impacted community as close to home as possible. We are motivated in our work to help [...]
Jennifer Williams and I are in Washington, IL this week. Washington was hit by an EF-4 tornado last November 17. The storm damaged over 1000 homes and we wanted to visit Washington to see where the town is in its recovery less than three months after the disaster. We spent Monday surveying the damage and rebuilding efforts. We saw what one might expect – a very mixed picture of where people are right now. Some homes are well on the way to being rebuilt, others are in a surreal state – the front of the house ripped off – exposing still made beds, other furniture still on the second story – clothes hanging in the closets. The only thing that makes these pictures bearable at this point in the story is the sound of hammering and sawing in the background – comforting sounds in this community determined to build back stronger than ever.
On December 30, Rachel visited Greensburg, Kansas, the town that rebuilt sustainably after being hit by a devastating tornado in 2007. Close to Home continues to find inspiration in the lessons that Greensburg has learned and shares with other communities that are rebuilding post-disaster. Rachel met with Mayor Bob Dixson and Greensburg GreenTown's Jana Schwartz & Ruth Ann Wedel. [...]
The City of Greensburg, Kansas, was struck by an EF5 tornado (winds in excess of 200 mph) on May 4, 2007. Ninety-five percent of the infrastructure of Greensburg was demolished that night - only three buildings remained, none of them residential. Eleven people lost their lives. Rachel Stamm (Founder) and Erin Hulme (Advisory Board) traveled to Greensburg in March of 2013 to learn more about the story of Greensburg first-hand. Close to Home is a business that has been further inspired by the personal stories heard during that visit. The quality of disaster response has an important impact on a community’s ability to recover and restore post-disaster. That lesson informs our work at Close to Home. The story of Greensburg and its residents has become a beacon of hope as well as a valuable resource for other towns and residents recovering from natural disasters.