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Disaster relief updates, furnace needs in Detroit

Cleaning kit rally volunteers

Michigan disaster relief updates include a final report on the October cleaning kit rally and a call for financial assistance to replace flood-damaged furnaces in Detroit and for volunteers to help clean and paint basements.

Content Editor

The Michigan Conference’s Disaster Response Team concluded its rally on October 24 with a successful shipment of cleaning kits and supplies to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center (MMDC) in Pawnee, Ill. This was in response to MMDC’s appeal for disaster recovery in Florida following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.

In the Detroit metro area, long-term recovery efforts managed by Michigan Disaster Response and Recovery (MiDRR), an affiliated nonprofit birthed out of the Michigan Conference, continue following the 2021 flooding that damaged homes and left many without heat and hot water.

Grants for immediate assistance have been beneficial to families and individuals, but there is still a need for furnace repairs and replacements as winter sets in. Congregations and individuals who wish to contribute financially are encouraged to contact Cheryl Tipton, Resource Coordinator for the “After the Storm” Metro Detroit Flood Recovery Project, at 517-512-4049 or by email at [email protected].

Final Tally for Cleaning Kit Rally

MMDC’s cleaning kit supply had been depleted, given the number of U.S. disasters this year, including summer flooding in Kentucky and St. Louis. In late September, additional cleaning kits and other supplies were requested from disaster relief partners in Florida following Hurricane Ian. MMDC sent an appeal to the Michigan Conference, and Dan O’Malley, Michigan Disaster Response Coordinator, took the lead in managing the collection of kits.

Six collection points throughout Michigan received a total of 357 empty buckets, 121 full buckets, and 153 boxes of kit supplies.

Cheryl Tipton was the Disaster Response Coordinator for the Greater Detroit District’s cleaning kit collection at Resurrection UMC. She noted that collaboration between United Methodist churches and other faith groups made the rally successful. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stepped up and supplied 50 filled buckets to contribute to the cause. Tipton said disaster relief unites people of faith, for “great things happen when we work together and not apart.”

Trailer for disaster relief supplies
A trailer from the Midwest Mission Distribution Center is ready to be loaded with cleaning kits and supplies collected by Detroit area churches. ~ photo courtesy Cheryl Tipton

In the East Winds District, over 30 boxes of cleaning kit supplies were collected in addition to 57 empty buckets. Rev. Kayla Roosa, pastor of Bethany-Otisville Cooperative Parish, was part of the coordination of the rally. She has participated in previous rallies and is always moved by the quick response and servant attitude within our conference. “It was an amazing witness,” she said, “to how people respond in a short period of time when the need is placed before us to love our neighbors through dish and laundry soap and buckets of other items.”

O’Malley was pleased with the overall response and wrote a thank you to the United Methodist congregations and volunteers who helped communicate, collect, consolidate, and transport the cleaning kits. He also noted that another appeal will be held in the spring, probably in March, with the goal of getting all the districts represented with donations and collection points.

Furnace Needs in Detroit

Certain areas of the city of Detroit are still struggling following historic flooding in late June 2021. It’s been almost a year and a half, and some survivors are facing their second winter without heat. Furnaces permanently damaged by flood waters filling basements must be replaced.

Cheryl Tipton, Resource Coordinator for “After the Storm” Metro Detroit Flood Recovery Project, is looking to raise money to help pay for furnace replacements for flood survivors. She is also seeking volunteers to help clean basements and do necessary painting. Those who are interested in volunteering to work will be trained by certified contractors.

“After the Storm” Metro Detroit Flood Recovery Project is a collaborative disaster relief effort funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and managed by Michigan Disaster Response and Recovery (MiDRR). MiDRR is a service ministry created by the Michigan Conference, which grew to become a separate nonprofit organization focusing on disaster case management and assisting individuals in long-term recovery following disasters.

Hundreds of flood survivors in Detroit have been living without heat and hot water for more than a year. Tipton explained, “Our neighbors in need include hardworking families who couldn’t afford enough insurance, elderly individuals living without a safety net for anything beyond what their fixed income can provide, and single parents working and caring for their young children. They are resourceful, resilient, and ready to live fully in their homes with hot water and heat this winter.”

Disaster Outreach Supervisor Phyllis Bell told a story of a household of two adults with three children, ages 14, 11, and 3, who need a new furnace. FEMA awarded them less than $4,000 to repair their home that sustained damage to the roof and to the furnace and hot water tank in the basement, along with damage to the front porch from a tree that toppled in the front yard.

The family’s husband was diagnosed with a rare disease caused by a mosquito bite in 2020, which left him unable to continue his CDL long-distance truck driving employment. The wife recently began employment as a valet driver making minimum wage.

The FEMA money was used to remove the tree, repair the front porch, and contribute to the purchase of a hot water heater. After the June 2021 flooding, the family’s savings were also depleted to assist with the ongoing house repairs and to go toward the new water heater, in addition to buying portable heaters to get them through last winter.

Currently, they are getting estimates to repair the roof and replace the furnace.

For those able to contribute financially to the replacement of furnaces for families like this one, please contact Cheryl Tipton at 517-512-4049 or by email at [email protected]. She will provide additional information on where checks should be sent. Church groups or individuals wishing to volunteer to clean basements and paint should also contact her.

Last Updated on December 6, 2022

The Michigan Conference