As residents grapple with recent flooding, United Way establishes Crisis and Recovery Fund to provide disaster relief


United Way for Southeastern Michigan has announced the creation of a fund intended to help mobilize immediate support when crises strike, like the recent heavy rains and flooding that have affected thousands of families across the region. The United Way Crisis and Recovery Fund will ensure the organization is prepared to respond quickly when people need immediate assistance resulting from community emergencies.

For more than a century, United Way for Southeastern Michigan has worked daily to meet the needs of families across Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. But in recent years, the organization has been called upon to activate at times when demand for supports and services peaks. With its broad network of partners — from government officials to nonprofit service providers, to community churches and neighborhood groups — United Way is uniquely situated to quickly mobilize resources and ensure people get the support they need during a crisis.

Last weekend, storms and heavy rainfall in Wayne and Oakland counties flooded tens of thousands of homes and resulted in nearly 40,000 people losing power. Now, many metro Detroit families are dealing with being displaced and the loss of essential household items. At the same time, many are facing enormous, unexpected costs.

“When our community faces a crisis, we must be able to immediately respond to significant spikes in demand for food, shelter and access to emergency services,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “Right now, thousands of families are struggling with the impact of the recent flooding across our region — this, on top of the losses and stresses the pandemic brought. When a crisis like this arises, we need to have resources on hand to help them return to stability as quickly as possible.”

Shelly Watts, vice president of fund development at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, said a donor match will be used to propel the fund toward a goal of $1 million.

“We are grateful to have the support of philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and other generous donors to help power this effort,” Watts said. “Together, their funds will allow us to match the first $250,000 in donations received through the United Way Crisis and Recovery Fund, helping provide additional immediate relief to those impacted by devastating floods across the region.”

To immediately aid those struggling with the current emergency, United Way’s Crisis and Recovery Fund will:

Strengthen front-line agencies’ ability to accommodate the rise in requests for assistance from families facing homelessness, job loss, transportation challenges, and other related struggles.

Help individuals navigate resources and legal options for flood recovery and reimbursement.

Connect families with cleanup and remediation services.

“There is tremendous power in coming together to take care of each other in times of crisis. Rapid collaboration and coordinated delivery of aid is essential to maximizing our impact at times of great need. Our goal is to ensure that whenever disaster strikes, families and front-line organizations have a trusted place to turn for immediate support and recovery,” Hudson added.”

To support flood relief efforts in Southeastern Michigan, United Way is asking for contributions at www.UnitedWayCrisisFund.org. In addition to raising funds, United Way is organizing and mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to aid with clean-up and other pressing needs.

Anyone needing help during a time of crisis is encouraged to Dial 2-1-1 or visit https://unitedwaysem.org/get-help for assistance.

About United Way for Southeastern Michigan 

United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than 100 years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable, and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit UnitedWaySEM.org.

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