While the media focuses on the winter-weather disasters that recently impacted Texas and other Southern states, neighbors to the north are still recovering from a different disaster that hit one community almost a year ago. A historic 500-year flood that swept through Midland County, Michigan in May 2020 left thousands facing hardship. But thanks to a partnership between the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group, United Way of Midland County and the Disaster Services Corporation, flood survivors can receive home essentials in an efficient “one-stop shop” way as they work to rebuild their lives.
House in a Box
Organized and led by the Disaster Services Corporation – Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA, the House in a Box Program™ (HIB) provides necessary home items for disaster survivors, all in one kit. One package includes the following brand-new items:
- Pots and pans
- Bathroom setup
“The goal of the program is to provide new household items for families who have lost everything due to a disaster — like the flood that Midland County experienced — and who are forced into situational poverty because of such events,” said Kevin Peach, COO, Disaster Services Corporation. “House in a Box gives dignity to families in crisis as it gives them a new and fresh start.”
Midland County’s Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group — a cross-sector group of individuals from a variety of organizations and agencies working together to help the community recover from the flood — helped spearhead the efforts to bring HIB to Midland County.
“After the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group reviewed the program and met with SVDP-USA Disaster Services representatives, we found a perfect match between what this well-established program offers and the needs of individuals and families who suffered catastrophic loss in the Midland County flooding,” said Rev. Matthew W. Schramm, Long Term Disaster Recovery Group member and senior pastor/head of staff at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland. “Being able to receive these building blocks of a home in one place is convenient. For those who have experienced such upheaval, convenience is a blessing.”
As part of the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group, United Way of Midland County helped provide financial support, as well as logistical and volunteer coordination for distribution of the household items. On February 23, volunteers from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the United Way gathered at the warehouse to assemble and organize the HIB materials for distribution.
Says Peach, “It really is a holistic approach to try to get everything (disaster victims) could possibly need.”
Disaster Services Corporation
The Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) is a Catholic lay organization that helps people in situational poverty brought about by natural and manmade disasters get their lives back in order. It is a sister company to the National Council of the United States, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has provided disaster relief since its founding in France in 1833.
How Does the HIB Selection Process Work?
“Families are reviewed and referred to the program through a Disaster Case Management process that ensures that there is no duplication of benefits,” according to Peach. “DSC buys furniture and furnishings in volume through pre-screened vendors so that it can provide a starter household furniture kit at a greatly reduced price.”
All families receive the same new items which are packaged for efficiency of delivery. The program is scalable to the size of the family and starts at $3,200 for a family of four. United Way is utilizing funds from their Rise Together fund to purchase the kits at a discounted rate, saving over $58,000, versus paying for these new household items individually.
You may not have heard of the flooding in Midland, but its impact on local residents was devastating. Over 10,000 people fled their homes because of the Midland County flood, which resulted in over $200 million in damages to more than 2,500 buildings.
“Rebuilding after a disaster is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Bre Sklar. “It does not happen overnight. But through the generosity of organizations and programs like House in a Box™, our community members can get access to much-needed resources to pick up the pieces of their lives.”
For more information on the Disaster Services Corporation – Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA, including how to donate to help disaster survivors, visit their website.