The 2013 floods nearly ruined Tammie Vaughan and her family’s home.
“I was so sick, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it,” she said, three years after the massive flood hit Colorado.
The catastrophic flooding in September 2013 damaged 19,000 structures across 24 counties from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. Many victims’ homes suffered extensive damage and families were forced to relocate. Unknown to some, the flood also hit Aurora, and the neighborhood where Tammie and her family rented a home.
Her two grown children and four grandchildren lived with Tammie when the disaster hit. The water filled their basement, soaked their walls and destroyed all their belongings. The situation became more hazardous for the family who had limited income and limited options for relocation.
“Where do you go when you have no money?,” said Tammie, who uses leg braces and has lung disease. “We were working but didn’t have money for a deposit (on a new home).”
For months, the family stayed periodically with family members in Denver. But the home was not quickly repaired and black mold began to grow on the walls, she said, showing picture of the damage inside. They had all the symptoms—headaches, vomiting and congestion.
“We lived with that for four months,” she said. “And no one would help us. It seemed like everyone left us there to be sick.”
Until Tammie called Catholic Charities, and she began to feel some hope. Through various national and local funds, Catholic Charities in Denver assisted flood victims across the Front Range. One emergency case manager, Chip Leckway, inspected the home and offered helped.
“I call him my angel,” Tammie said. “He actually cared about us.”
Catholic Charities provided her with gift cards to King Soopers and Target to purchase needed household items and things for the grandchildren. They also paid for Tammie to move her belongings from the damage home and into storage until they moved into the new place they found. Then the grandchildren got new beds, beddings, clothing and backpacks for school.
Away from the ill effects of mold, Tammie’s health also improved.
“I was so sick from that home. I caught ammonia from the cold,” she said. “Now my health is fabulous. I can’t complain. Not only did Catholic Charities save my life, but they saved my kids life.”
What Catholic Charities brought was more than money, but hope for a better situation.
“They made that hard time easier for us,” Tammie shared. “They gave us a better life, and it gave me hope. I’m so thankful for Catholic Charities.”
Tammie’s take on service
Q: How do you strive to be of service to others?
A: I try to make things beautiful in life. I don’t meet strangers. I like to dress up as characters, like the Easter Bunny, and walk around Denver, or visit children, and make them laugh. Laughter heals so much. I will give people hugs, too. It’s those acts of kindness and that love and hope makes a difference. It heals your heart. I treat others the way I want to be treated.