To the leader
Veteran-led disaster relief and humanitarian crisis organization Team Rubicon is working on a long-term program that kicked off December 1, 2020 to assist the Orange community following the damage caused by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. To date, Team Rubicon has remodeled eight houses, eight are currently under construction and 25 houses are approved for rebuilding on the Gulf Coast. It is one of the few organizations that stayed on site after the storms and is already prepared for this hurricane season‘s storms.
Jerry Kovatch, 77, was born and raised in Orange and has lived in the house on Polk Ave since 2015. As an auto mechanic for over 40 years, Jerry enjoys working on his Chevy and hanging out with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson who live next door.
When the hurricanes broke out late last year, Jerry and his family evacuated and returned to a house with roof and ceiling damage. Later, a piece of the ceiling fell on his head and he suffered from post-concussion syndrome.
Despite his age, Jerry is no stranger to adventure. To the horror of his children, he used a chainsaw to saw off the branches of the surrounding trees so as not to cause further damage in future storms. Jerry is a hardworking, charismatic family man who does his best to stay positive while living in the house that still needs repair. He hopes Team Rubicon can take his case and he can return to a safe home and enjoy impromptu adventures.
Cory Kovatch, 40, and his wife Elizabeth, 47, have been married for six years. Cory was born and raised two doors down from the house on Polk Ave and said, as a child, “I will buy this house one day.”
In 2017 he bought the house, fulfilling his dream and at the same time making sure that he could take care of his father Jerry, who lives next door.
Apart from Cory and Elizabeth, the household consists of their children Miguel (22), Nickolas (16) and Zoie (13). When the hurricanes hit, the family did not evacuate, and Elizabeth recalls it was terrifying when the wind knocked 14 trees down around their property.
The recovery process has been slow and made more difficult by the fact that Cory and Miguel lost their jobs during the pandemic. Additionally, Elizabeth was diagnosed with colon cancer in January 2020. Although she was successfully operated on afterwards, she had to stand in line as a cashier to pay the hospital bills.
For Cory and Elizabeth, home means stability and performance. Cory dreamed of owning the house as a child and takes pride in raising his own children there. Elizabeth attended 13 different schools growing up and being able to settle down means a lot to her. They both got married on the corner of the property and there are many happy memories that they hope repairs can bring Team Rubicon back to life.