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UMCOR helps with Michigan flooding recovery
Photo courtesy Midland Flood Recovery Project

A volunteer from Chesaning; Trinity United Methodist Church works at a job site affected by last year's flooding.

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Offering continues to support recovery efforts 14-months after devastation.

It’s been 14 months since a deluge of biblical proportions flowed through mid-Michigan. Seven inches of rain fell the night of June 22-23, 2017 in Midland, Isabella and Bay counties. Governor Snyder declared an emergency and government and faith-based response quickly began.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief acted in partnership with The Michigan Conference and Midland County. First came cleaning buckets dispatched from the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Illinois. Then a $100,000 UMCOR grant was made and two caseworkers, Anne Wortley and Katie Vokal, were hired. They began their work in October of last year in an office in downtown Midland.

Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere.

Anne and Katie have been reaching out to residents in need ever since. Their work is done in collaboration with the Great Lakes Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group. Anne describes their role. “Our job is to assess and identify needs and then connect individuals and families to resources. Recovery is a partnership.” Michigan Conference Disaster Coordinators, Dan O’Malley and Bob Miller are also members of the Great Lakes Group.

Since their work began last fall, the caseworkers have contacted all 1,800 people on the potential case list supplied by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and local emergency management. Those conversations resulted in the opening of 87 cases and they continue to make home visits and to receive calls for additional aid. “We have closed 50 of the 87 cases,” Anne reports. “The other cases are still works in progress. Some may soon sign off.”

A carpenter from Bath UMC worked in a kitchen damaged by three feet of water last summer. More volunteers are needed. Photo courtesy Midland Flood Recovery Project.

The pair notes that each of the cases has been unique. “Some are as simple as needing a voucher for an appliance,” Anne says. “Another case required $13,000 just to complete the mold remediation.”

Funding for the work itself came largely through the Midland Area Community Foundation. When those funds ran out last March Katie reports, “We were at a stand-still.” When an appeal was made, several individuals and a pastor raised additional money.

A second UMCOR grant of $90,000 helped address the needs of homeowners both inside and outside Midland County.

While the rains fell over a year ago, there are still homes with big problems, especially with mold. Current projects involve water-proofing and fixing of foundations that need professional work.

Not all the work requires contractors, however. Anne and Katie report a number of churches have provided awesome volunteer help, among them United Methodist congregations. They could use more volunteers, especially outside of Midland County where available funds are more limited.

The caseworkers have experienced God moments, like the week they received two phone calls. The first was from a woman in the Sanford area who had suffered three feet of water in her whole house. “Counter tops, cupboards, doors, everything needed to be replaced.” Two days later the Volunteer Coordinator called saying he had a group from Bath UMC that included a person specializing in counter tops and cupboards. “Do you have anyone who needs them?” Indeed we do!

Individuals and churches wanting to volunteer may call Kelly Buell: 989-859-3325 or K2buell@aol.com.

“I am grateful that UMCOR recognized the need to help the people in the Great Lakes Bay Area,” says Anne Wortley. “It has been an honor to work with UMCOR to bring people hope.”

Kay Demoss, Content Editor, Michigan Area

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.

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