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Michigan Disaster Relief: A homeowner's perspective

by Bill LaFollette

Just a month ago central Michigan experienced a 500-year flood and the subsequent failure of two dams on the Tittabawassee river. The heavy rains and ensuing flood waters damaged a number of homes in Gladwin, Midland and Saginaw counties. In Midland county alone, 2,500 homes, businesses and nonprofits were affected. Some 150 homes were completely destroyed, with another 790 suffering major damage. As one of the impacted homeowners, it was welcome news to hear Michigan Disaster Relief was being mobilized to help.

Shortly after Memorial Day, twenty-five trained volunteers came from across the state over a two-week period. There were another 67 spontaneous volunteers from Michigan churches. A number were from the Bay Area Baptist Association, some of whom were impacted themselves. The volunteers were housed at Sunrise Baptist Church in Midland where Disaster relief established a command post, along with feeding and shower/laundry units.

Several of the homes had damage to more than one floor. Those homes typically took more than one day to complete due to the amount of work required. Drywall and flooring were removed and the disposing of debris. Thorough cleaning and sanitizing were involved; all while trying to protect household items that could be saved. Because of the layout of many homes, the number of people at some locations had to be limited to keep from getting in each other's way.

When initially contacted during the assessment phase, some home owners were overwhelmed. After a few days passed and volunteers showed up to help, it was heartwarming to see hope returning to their eyes when they realized others cared and their problems were not insurmountable.

All of the homeowners were grateful, many finding it hard to believe Disaster Relief was providing this help without cost. This often led to discussions about Christ’s redeeming love also being free.

The COVID-19 virus restrictions continue, and impacted homeowners are performing the many time-consuming tasks of restoring their homes and getting their lives back to normal. Homeowners are appreciative of Disaster Relief, and churches that showed us the true meaning of loving your neighbor.

For more information about the Michigan flooding, click here.



Bill LaFollette and his wife Linda live in Midland. They have two adult children and two grandchildren. They volunteer with community organizations and attend Sunrise Baptist Church. 


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