In 2012 and 2013, a Hannibal homeowner found himself with no heat, relying on electric space heaters for warmth. Everything changed when Northeast Community Action Corporation (NECAC) and partnering contractors started weatherization efforts in 2014.

In 2012 and 2013, a Hannibal homeowner found himself with no heat, relying on electric space heaters for warmth. Everything changed when Northeast Community Action Corporation (NECAC) and partnering contractors started weatherization efforts in 2014.

When Henry Stieben first and started working on his 100-year old home, six feet of water sat in the basement. A wood-fired furnace would soon break down. The oak floors were warped and a French door was sagging, Stieben said. Stieben and Kyle Roberts began to bring the house back into shape, but they needed help from NECAC to make it weather-tight and safe.

NECAC began winterization and home preservation efforts for what Stieben referred to as “Project Hope” in 2014. Contractors work with NECAC staff to weatherize about 500 homes annually in 12 different counties, NECAC Deputy Director for Housing Developments Carla Potts said.

Stieben’s home was extremely leaky, and his utility bills totaled between $400 and $500 each month. During initial testing with a fan placed in the door to depressurize the home, NECAC staff members recorded movement of 7020 cubic feet per minute of air. After contractors performed weatherization tasks — including installing a 90-percent efficient gas furnace, replacing two new windows, installing new insulation, hanging a new front door and sealing the other windows — the reading plummeted to 2,932 cubic feet per minute, NECAC Weatherization Director Ken Schneidler said. Stieben said his previous allergies and infections went away. His utility bills shrank tremendously. Now, the gas bill barely reaches $30 per month, Stieben said.

“Miracles are happening,” he said.

Now that the weatherization efforts are complete, the project is about halfway complete. Crew members will install sheetrock, replace electrical components and repair the roof with the help of Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) funding, Schneidler said.

Stieben said nearby neighbors have been working on their houses, too. His next door neighbor performed substantial renovations to her home, and a new roof topped a home across the street. Children often fill the yards along his block of Chestnut Street. NECAC board member Paul Maddox grew up in the neighborhood, NECAC public relations officer Brent Engel said.

Throughout the process, Stieben said he met regularly with Schneidler and Lee Hart of Hart Construction. Stieben planned to host an open house so he could demonstrate his home’s transformation. He and Roberts both said they felt excited about the progress so far. Roberts said he enjoyed working with the contractors.

“They do an awesome job,” Roberts said. “The crews are awesome.”

Schneidler said October is a busy month for NECAC staff, as they submit MHDC grants forms, use the rest of utility funds and complete the federal home loan process. Schneidler said staff members planned to weatherize about 60 homes throughout 12 counties.

After he discussed the weatherization and forthcoming preservation efforts at Stieben’s home, Schneider said goodbye and set out for a home in St. Charles.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com.