Volunteer response key to Father's Day Flood recovery

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - One year ago Monday, Houghton County suffered more than $50M in damages. You wouldn't know that just from looking now. That's because of the tireless work of those who helped.

Before the rains cleared last Father's Day, firefighters, EMS, and police from across the region were hard at work with rescue efforts.

"Going out, in that darkness and trying to find a way to rescue those in need,” said volunteer coordinator Jon Stone. “That's what our day looked like for the next day. It was just rescue, rescue, and make sure people are safe."

The next day, recovery began. Evangel Baptist Church hosted the volunteers at first. Thousands came forward to help.

"By about 1PM that afternoon you started hearing chainsaws and you started hearing the buzz of equipment and you know it's almost as if the community came together and had that initial knock back,” said Kevin Store, executive director of the Portage Health Foundation. “They were knocked on their heels a little bit, but then it's like, okay, what do we do to fix this."

Those who couldn't help, gave. The phrase Copper Country Strong spawned t-shirts, jerseys, and paintings, and paved the way for donations to flow in.

"We had people from all over the place, it was amazing the outpouring that we saw here in the city,” said Houghton City Manager Eric Waara. “We had folks calling from Colorado, from Hawaii asking what can we do, can we send money, and can we do this."

To those who witness the flooding and response, it means more than just that.

"What I think Copper Country Strong means is that we've been clarified in the potency of what tangible love, compassionate love looks like within our community and I think that that's the indelible mark that I hope stays with us long after the recovery process is done," said Stone.

Events like these are hard to be prepared for, and near impossible to predict. But in the Copper Country, they know they can always count on their community when the worst happens.

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