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Copper Country update

Clean-up is underway in the city of Houghton and surrounding communities after flash flooding June 16.

Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Conference

The Michigan Conference’s Early Response Team Coordinator, Bob McCormick, travelled to Houghton a week after torrential rains caused flash flooding in the Keweenaw area of the western Upper Peninsula.

One hundred UMCOR Cleaning Buckets were delivered and the Brighton United Methodist Church’s Early Response Team trailer was left with the Rev. Scott Lindenberg, pastor of Hancock: First UMC. Lindenberg is serving as the liaison to the Conference Disaster Response Team.

McCormick explained that damage is localized; homes most affected were those built along hillsides in the path of heavy run-off from the flash flooding.

Houghton Flood June 2018
Bucket brigades worked to excavate a basement filled with six feet of sand and rocks by the flash flooding. See more clean-up photos on the Facebook page of Hancock First UMC.

On June 23-24 trained Early Response Team members, along with McCormick, worked at a home in nearby Hubbell that sustained severe damage. Bob reports: “The home, belonging to one of Scott’s parishioners, had a full basement filled with approximately six feet of sand and rocks. Water had flowed downhill during the storm, carrying the sand and rocks. It broke the basement windows on one side of the home, flowed into the basement and passed through the opposite windows as it continued downhill. I have never witnessed this type of flooding before.”

Excavation was done and foundation secured thanks to bucket brigades comprised of 40 volunteers who worked together on the project, hand-digging, filling and dumping five-gallon pails of sand and rocks.

Local response, according to McCormick, “with an outpouring of volunteers and donations, is very organized and well thought out.” He determined that trained Early Responders are not needed though skilled help is always welcome. McCormick suggests that interested United Methodist ERT members offer their assistance through the system set up in Houghton. Contact the Volunteer Resource Center located at Evangel Baptist Church, 1114 College Avenue, 906-233-6621. Do not self-deploy.

Houghton Flood June 2018
Getting dirty for his neighbors and the Lord. Pastor Scott Lindenberg, Hancock: First UMC, is serving as the local liaison to the Michigan Conference Disaster Relief Team as clean-up efforts continue in the Keweenaw. ~ Facebook/Hancock First UMC

Scott Lindenberg reports that ERTs from Marquette, Green Bay and Milwaukee served in the immediate aftermath of the storm. The focus will soon turn from muck-out to rebuilding. He adds, “The home owners, where volunteers spent their time last Saturday and Sunday, were fortunate, in that no water came into the main floors of the house, only the basement. Not all were that fortunate, so there will be some need for folks who work on reconstruction.”

The pastor notes that almost no one had flood insurance and that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is currently assessing the government’s response. “I know of one situation in which half of a house was literally washed away,” Lindenberg said. “Two other homes I worked on had significant damage. Volunteer labor will be a big help in these situations.” The Emergency Measure officials in the area will soon determine when long-term recovery efforts can begin.

The Michigan Conference Disaster Relief Coordinator, Dan O’Malley stands ready to help mobilize United Methodist efforts once the go-ahead is given to organize a long-term recovery group.

In the meantime, United Methodists are encouraged to give through the Michigan Conference Disaster Response Fund. Make checks payable to the Detroit Conference Treasurer, memo Michigan Disaster Response Fund and mail to Michigan Conference Treasury, 1161 East Clark Road, Ste. 212, DeWitt, MI 48820. Or click here to give online.

Please pray for the community as they continue to come together in recovery.

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