Dexter tornado recovery continues as donations, volunteer offers pour in
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Recovery efforts are moving into a new phase five days after a powerful tornado struck the Dexter area, leveling homes, uprooting trees and generally disrupting life for hundreds of residents.
The Red Cross, which had been operating a distribution and service center out of Creekside Intermediate School on Dexter Ann Arbor Road, said it was shutting that down at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Washtenaw-Lenawee Chapter of the American Red Cross will continue offering assistance from its headquarters, 4624 Packard Road, Ann Arbor. Anyone needing assistance can call 734-961-3009.Meanwhile, Washtenaw County said it would expedite building permits for tornado victims and the United Way of Washtenaw County as well as Dexter Township continued to act as clearinghouses for donations of food, clothing and services. Donations are being accepted through the United Way's website. Those who have in-kind donations or people seeking United Way assistance can call 211.
The township has established an online signup for volunteers.
United Way officials said they’ve been most impressed with the spirit of togetherness in the community and the way people and agencies have stepped up to help in any way they can.
“I think it does show how much Washtenaw County takes care of their own," said Sandra Rupp, president. “So many non-traditional plus traditional agencies responded.” Rupp praised the efforts of first responders as well as the Village of Dexter, Dexter Township and Dexter Community Schools. United Way has also been working with Faith In Action to provide relief.
She also noted that John Thorhauer, president of the Chelsea Retirement Community, stepped up to offer housing to people in need after the storm, and by Wednesday had arranged housing for 10 people.
Relief effort organizers have been flooded with offers of help. So far, there are many more volunteers than there are needs for volunteer services.
“We’re just overwhelmed with people that want to do something,” said Deb Bratkovich, fund development director for the Washtenaw County United Way. "I think it really says that we’re a good, tight-knit community.”
The United Way has collected more than $20,000, and other collections have gone on in the community as well, including at LaFontaine Automotive Group and Chelsea State Bank, Lake Trust Credit Union, Bank of Ann Arbor and United Bank and Trust.
Rupp noted that the need for volunteers and for temporary housing could change as damage assessments continue and rebuilding efforts begin.
So far, the Red Cross has served more than 130 meals to tornado victims, provided snacks and water to hundreds, utilized the services of more than 100 Red Cross volunteers and fielded more than 160 calls to its hotline.
Rupp said certain individuals might be able to qualify for assistance from the state Department of Human Services to help with home repairs and moving expenses if needed. She said the United Way hopes to have information about that assistance posted on its website soon.