On May 20, 2020, two dams failed in mid-Michigan, flooding entire neighborhoods and leaving 10,000 people displaced. Two months later, Pastor Dan Kempin of St. John’s, Midland says that about one-third of town had some form of damage and, even though many people are now in the rebuilding phase, some are still struggling, and some are simply walking away from their homes. He describes what the priorities were in the aftermath of the floods and how St. John’s is stepping in to help:
To begin, I would like to report how utterly encouraging it has been to see people stepping forward in this community, and from outside the community, to help those in need.
The first phase of that need was getting people to immediate safety—and thank the Lord that there was no loss of life during this flood. Nevertheless, many people were displaced from their homes and there has been a tremendous loss of property. Homes that were not on the flood plain have no flood insurance, and I have heard anecdotally that some flood insurance companies will not pay out because it was a dam failure, not a natural flood.
The second phase of need was the “mucking out” of homes and basements. Again, it was encouraging to see numerous relief organizations come with volunteers to help local volunteers tear out flood-damaged materials, prepare and deliver meals and water, and pray with those who are going through the loss. It would be impossible to name all of the churches and organizations that have helped, but the Midland Circuit churches have been involved in sending volunteers, hosting relief organizations, preparing meals, and even helping to replace washers and dryers, which took place through “Pivot Point*,” a ministry of Messiah, Midland.
The next phase is rebuilding, which is taking place throughout the area, from the replacement of flooring and drywall to the repair of foundation issues on the homes that are currently condemned.
St. John’s is currently seeking to address one of the needs by helping people without the means to replace their furnace before the heating season. (We know there is going to be a need for furnace replacement because the vast majority of furnaces were in basements and destroyed by the floods). This program is being done in partnership with Wild’s Plumbing and Heating, since a furnace requires professional assessment and installation. The hope is that we will be in a position to help people in the ALICE** demographic to proceed with a furnace replacement in the late summer and early fall. The need could easily exceed what St. John’s is able to provide, and if so, we may be seeking funds from other churches or organizations, as well as additional professional partnerships.
We ask for prayers in this endeavor, and that God would connect us to the people who have this need.
If you would like to help to those in need of furnace replacement, contact St. John’s through its website.
Photo by Jeff Heisner/Michigan District, LCMS
* Pivot Point is a non-profit organization run by Messiah, Midland that operates by taking in donated appliances and repairing and cleaning those appliances to give them a new life instead of sending them to a landfill. Then they are re-sold to the community for an affordable price.
** ALICE = Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, a.k.a. people who live paycheck by paycheck and who just don’t have the money to cover expenses such as a furnace replacement.
Listen to the podcast in which Rev. Dan Kempin is interviewed by Michigan District, LCMS’ Jeff Heisner.