CWS Meets Needs Around the World – and Just Down the Highway

Larry Conover | September 4, 2014

La Forice Nealy, CEO of the Southeast Michigan Region of the American Red Cross, Detroit, and Larry Conover, Assistant Director of the CWS Michigan Region, with offices in Lansing, receive a truckload of 2,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for distribution to households cleaning up the muck and debris left in their basements by the August 11, 2014, flash floods. Photo: American Red Cross

La Forice Nealy, CEO of the Southeast Michigan Region of the American Red Cross, Detroit, and Larry Conover, Assistant Director of the CWS Michigan Region, with offices in Lansing, receive a truckload of 2,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for distribution to households cleaning up the muck and debris left in their basements by the August 11, 2014, flash floods. Photo: American Red Cross

I am so glad to know that Church World Service is there to meet needs around the world – and just down the highway from where I live and work, among households now cleaning up following flash floods August 11 in eastern Michigan.

That evening, I had a CROP Hunger Walk recruitment meeting in Grosse Ile, Mich.  When it finished and I headed back to the CWS office in Lansing, it was raining incredibly hard.

If I had taken the highway I usually take, I would have gotten stranded.  As it was, I had a terrible time getting back to Lansing for all the flooded roads and detours.

My first thought was how glad I was that I didn’t get stuck, and that my home didn’t get flooded.  Then I went online and checked some news channels and saw that the flooding was very bad, and had affected thousands of people in a three-county area that includes greater Detroit.

I gave a call to CWS Emergency Response Specialist Susanne Gilmore to share what I was seeing and to ask if CWS could send help.  Shortly after my call, the American Red Cross, contacted her also and asked for 2,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets to distribute to flooded households.

I was able to be at the Red Cross offices in Detroit at the very moment the buckets arrived August 19.  One of the things that was so encouraging was how excited the Red Cross people were to get the buckets.  They said over and over again, “This is wonderful!  You have no idea how wonderful it is to get these.”

2,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets arrived in Detroit August 19 for distribution by the American Red Cross to survivors cleaning up from the August 11 flash floods. Buckets were taken right off the truck and into Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles and quickly distributed in several locations. Photo: American Red Cross

2,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets arrived in Detroit August 19 for distribution by the American Red Cross to survivors cleaning up from the August 11 flash floods. Buckets were taken right off the truck and into Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles and quickly distributed in several locations. Photo: American Red Cross

They were taking pictures and high fiving each other as the truck backed in.  That was very cool to see.  They pulled the buckets right out of the semi tractor trailer truck and put them right into their Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles, and as soon as they got one packed it took off and they loaded another.

I followed one of those vehicles, which went slowly down the road announcing, “We have cleanup buckets,” and people came out waving their arms.  We drove through Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb.  It’s not a particularly impoverished area, but people’s need was clear.  Some had brought the entire contents of their basements to the side of the road for pickup.

From the time the CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets were offloaded into the Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles to the time they were given out, it took less than an hour.

Incidentally, we have 27 CROP Hunger Walks in the three counties most affected by the August 11 flash floods.  Most of those walks are coming up this fall.  Four or five communities where we have walks were badly affected, but they are all still going ahead with their walks.

There was just one CROP Hunger Walk committee member who called to apologize for missing a meeting because he was cleaning up the muck and ruin left by four feet of water in his basement.

Since August 19, when I saw the CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets being distributed, I’ve been telling people that it’s just another time I’m so glad we have CROP Hunger Walks to provide funds to help people when they are in need.  It continues to make me proud to be connected to CWS when we are helping people like this.

Larry Conover is Assistant Field Director of the CWS Michigan Region, with offices in Lansing.  Click here for information on the CWS Kits program: http://www.cwsglobal.org/get-involved/kits/ 

Click here to learn more about the CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets Distributed in the Detroit area.


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