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After the Storm teams up in flood cleanup in Detroit

Members of disaster relief cleanup crew

STEP TWO: Veteran-led Team Rubicon amplifies flood relief efforts in Metro Detroit by assisting After the Storm, Michigan’s long-term disaster response and recovery nonprofit.  Together, the volunteers did 47 home cleanups.

Content Editor

DETROIT, MI—On Friday, April 21, After the Storm and its partners in Metro Detroit rallied in response to ten days’ worth of disaster cleanup aided by Team Rubicon, a veteran-led nonprofit that brings relief to communities affected by disaster or crisis, all over the world.

Some 50 volunteers met at Calvary United Methodist Church to celebrate the work they had done together before heading out for a day of work removing debris from flooded basements (called “mucking out”). Over ten days, volunteers mucked out 47 basements.

These homes have been sitting ready for cleanup since areas of Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan were devastated by widespread flooding on June 25-26, 2021, which caused over $50 million in damage to homes and businesses throughout the region.

Calvary UMC in Detroit was the host for the celebration rally on April 21. They also provided housing for Team Rubicon volunteers during their 10-day stay in Detroit. Here, a Team Rubicon volunteer (left), Tami Arreguin, After the Storm Resource Coordinator, and Linda Staley, After the Storm Outreach Supervisor, get to know one another during the rally at Calvary UMC. ~ photo courtesy Darryl Totty.

To get these homes operational and livable again, the Metro Detroit Flood Recovery Project was created. This project is financed through a $15 million disaster case management program (DCMP) grant funded by FEMA. Case management is critical to helping survivors find resources and funding to pay for repairs or replacements in the aftermath of a disaster.

Founded by the Michigan Conference, After the Storm has quickly grown to be the expert in long-term disaster response and recovery here in Michigan, trusted by federal, state, and local partners. Because of this, After the Storm was named as the provider for this $15 million grant to manage the funds.

After the Storm is working closely with two veteran agencies to split up the caseload throughout the affected area: Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency. There are over 100,000 registrants on the FEMA survivor list that After the Storm and these partner agencies are working their way through.

Volunteers from Ford Motor Company
Team Rubicon enlisted the help of more than 20 volunteers from Ford Motor Company to maximize their cleanup efforts in this area. ~ photo courtesy Darryl Totty

Since there are ongoing needs for flood cleanup and recovery, leadership from these three case management agencies asked Team Rubicon to send a team of volunteers to assist with muck-outs in home basements. They agreed, and over 20 veterans from all over the country came to Detroit to join this team. Team Rubicon also recruited Ford Motor Company employee resource group volunteers for certain days of the cleanup to maximize the impact for good.

These two teams each had about 25 volunteers. Volunteers worked on general debris removal, including furniture, appliances, personal belongings, and flooring. Everything must be cleared from damaged basements so mold remediation, final cleanup, and painting can be done.

Cheryl Tipton, After the Storm’s Resource Coordinator, says this is one of the hardest things for homeowners to deal with after a flood, and she’s witnessed it. “People are so overwhelmed with getting debris out. It’s emotional for them. But it’s also emotional to feel like you’ve given up and then finally receive assistance. That step creates a path for the next step.”

Disaster cleanup volunteers prepare for work
Team Rubicon’s Ember Munoz welcomes all the volunteers and prepares them for the day’s work. It was a team effort helping neighbors, as each of the three case management agencies was there in support, along with The Salvation Army and other local churches providing food and snacks for the day. ~ photo courtesy Darryl Totty

After the Storm and their partners are doing their part to create new pathways for healing. And the muck-out assistance from Team Rubicon was a recent blessing for the 47 homeowners in Detroit as they continue putting their lives back together.

The Rev. Dr. Darryl Totty, superintendent of the Greater Detroit District, was present for the cleanup rally on April 21. He expressed how The United Methodist Church here in Michigan, through After the Storm, has committed to being there for neighbors in need long after government agencies and other groups have left. This is the heart of their ministry.

He says, “[After the Storm and partners] are the people who were on the ground, who put their hands to the plow, and stayed faithful to the community devastated by the flood.”

Disaster response volunteers
The Rev. Dr. Darryl Totty, superintendent of the Greater Detroit District, and a Team Rubicon veteran volunteer celebrate the partnership and work done to assist flood survivors in Detroit. ~ photo courtesy Darryl Totty

It’s a positive mark the Michigan Conference has left on the community. “It’s really a benefit to have a church that understands the importance of filling a gap,” he notes. “So, when government can’t do it, people have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get to work.”

So, how can Michigan United Methodists contribute to this ongoing disaster relief work? First of all, visit After the Storm’s brand-new website at www.afterthestormmi.org and consider giving financially. Online donations are tax-deductible and can go toward unmet needs for survivors. Use After the Storm’s secure giving portal and note “Donation for unmet needs” as a comment.

Second, congregations can assemble a small team to assist with basic cleanup. And it doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. It could be a Saturday event. Contact Cheryl Tipton directly at [email protected] or 517-512-4049, and she will assess the group’s skills and determine how best to use the team. Many people still need help.

There’s also a need for trained plumbers, electricians, and general contractors. Skilled individuals can consider adopting a home and donating a few hours by helping neighbors in Detroit with simple tasks, like snaking a clogged drain, repairing broken receptacles, or repairing a roof. Again, contact Tipton to learn how best to help in the ongoing flood cleanup.

After the Storm, earlier called Michigan Disaster Response and Recovery (MiDRR), was launched in 2022 as an affiliated nonprofit of The Michigan Conference.  since the work had outgrown the conference’s ability to manage. After the Storm is a Ministry Partner of EngageMI, Step 2.

The Michigan Conference