rowena crawford_audrey m edmonson_web.jpgBROWNSVILLE — Eight years after a tornado destroyed their homes and several others in their unincorporated neighborhood, two families will soon move back into new houses, courtesy of cooperation among Miami-Dade County agencies and the federal government.

The Brownsville Tornado Relief project, as the initiative is known, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 28 at the homes of Gwen Allen, in the 2400 block of Northwest 55th Terrace and Theresa Durand in the 2200 block of Northwest 61st Street.

The tornado struck the northern end of the county in March 2003 and damaged several homes. The County Commission adopted resolutions that authorized several county departments to help families recover.

Fourteen families were identified for help to rebuild but one dropped out. A county statement said between 2003 and 2008, $1.15 million in federal Home Investment Partnership (HOME) funds was allocated through the commission for the recovery effort. In addition, a total of $429,000 was allocated from Documentary Surtax funds for 13 homeowners.

By last March 1, four damaged structures in Phase I of the project were demolished and construction began on three homes, with two completed for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Construction is pending a start date on the fourth house in Phase I.

One of the two homeowners in the second phase has since moved into a recently rehabilitated home owned by the county.  Another family has recently signed a contract to purchase another county-owned rehabilitated house.  Additional funding has been identified to complete the remaining six homes in Phases II and III.

The ribbon-cutting formed part of Miami-Dade’s observance of the 25th anniversary of National Community Development Week, April 25-30.

“The National Community Development Week activities allow us to educate residents about the [Community Development Block Grant] and HOME programs," Miami-Dade County Manager Alina T. Hudak said in the statement.  "These programs are important because they contribute to our local economy by serving households in need, maintaining and stabilizing neighborhoods, and providing the flexibility to develop partnerships and projects that are vital to the well-being of our community.”