His wife, Tabitha, read news of the two dams failing north of
She contacted the
The response was immediate,
So the handyman and his family drove 19 hours north on
"When we seen the devastation up here, we thought that would be the best place to bring it. So we packed up and headed on over," said
The family packed onions, bell pepper, seasoning, chicken and sausage -- all the fixins for homemade gumbo -- on ice and hit the road.
On Monday, they cooked classic jambalaya for flood victims outside a middle school.
They brought huge pots and prepared everything fresh on-site.
"We packed everything in ice chests and we'll have about 15 gallons worth of gumbo when we're done," he said while cooking, as he talked about seeing rubble and just bare foundations left in places where homes had been swept away.
"Once we finish cooking, we'll clean up and see if they need us. Then we'll pack up and head home. We have more work to do for those families who lost their homes in the tornado," Richard said. "I'm not a super religious person. I have God in my heart."
He drifted back to 2017 and his memory of four weeks in ICU and more in rehab.
After seeing how strangers "lifted the burden" from his family, Richard said, now that's how he spends his life -- whether it's helping medical patients pay electric bills or giving Christmas gifts to families who just can't.
"I give back because it's been done for me," he said, noting that this was his first trip to The Mitten.
No big-name celebraties are involved in this small-town event.
But there are lots of national and international newspaper headlines. One local resident said she counted five TV trucks from just one news network. It all seems to help.
"The mayor of
Hers is a community coordinating relief for
"I own a small business in
Floodwaters replace holy water at
Because of the pandemic, he explained, Michigan Valve & Fitting had to pivot from ordering things for the automotive industry to safety equipment. Now he plans to donate 200 face shields and 3,500 N-95 masks to the flood relief effort, having connected with first the mayor and then
"Our customers were in need of masks, so we shifted gears," Maddox, 53, said. "I was fortunate, able to get a (federal) PPP (paycheck protection program) loan to keep my employees on staff. We would've laid them off if that hadn't happened."
He was scheduled to make the 90-minute drive to
Not only have individuals from all parts of the
"For Dow, they've not only offered resources but they're pulling things out of their plants in
Now, she said, the crisis teams are working to reach out to all families throughout the region who have been impacted, and document the damage and figure out what families need to recover. The organization is preparing to deploy thousands of disaster relief volunteers from across the state and the country.
"We're moving from crisis to working to establish long-term recovery," Miller said. "Today it may be about getting wet items removed from houses and initial cleanup. Moving forward, we are working to ensure every step of the recovery takes place in the next 12 to 18 months."
For now, she and her team are fielding calls literally around the clock. A flood in the time of a pandemic means that everyone is on the clock, no longer just working a regular work schedule.
"People no longer hesitate if it's 11 o'clock and they have a question," Miller said. "There's a level of pulling together and leaning into vulnerability that is inspiring. We are all checking our egos at the door for the greater good. We're serving a much bigger purpose ... "
To donate supplies or volunteer, contact unitedwaymidland.org
Follow Dwayne's Dream Team Give Back on Facebook.
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