City of Niles thanks volunteers for help with flood cleanup

NILES — On Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, nearly 150 volunteers helped area homeowners, businesses and the city with the first wave of flood related cleanup efforts.

Volunteers ranged in age from 10 to 70 years of age and came from all over the region to help. The cleanup included the filling of 21, 30-yard dumpsters with debris and destroyed household and personal belongings.

City Administrator Ric Huff said he appreciated volunteer’s efforts.

“The volume of support has been amazing; We are very thankful that so many people are willing to jump in and help wherever needed,” he said.

The Niles Salvation Army also helped out by providing localized nutrition and hydration stations for volunteers. Additional support came from the Southeastern Berrien County Landfill, who provided half price dumpsters for use by the city in the clean-up efforts, United Way of Southwest Michigan, who helped coordinate volunteers and donations and the Berrien County Emergency Operations Command.

Groups of volunteers from Andrews University, Niles New Tech, United Way, the Leader Publications, several local churches, the Niles Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Niles Utilities Department, the Niles Street Department, the C Niles Fire Department, the Niles Police Department, the Niles Dial-a-Ride Transportation Department, and the city’s Parks and Recreation Board and the city’s Community Development Department, assisted. More than two dozen homeowners and several business owners cleaned up flood related damage.

Starting this week, the Berrien County EOC in coordination with the United Way are working with national relief organizations like Team Rubicon to start providing no cost assistance to homeowners needing assistance with additional abatement and muck out needs in the affected homes. Team Rubicon can be reached through by calling the United Way 211 help line.

Additional help can be sought from the group Crisis Clean Up by calling 800-451-1954. Crisis Clean Up can cut/remove drywall, insulation, flooring, furniture, appliances, etc. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the overwhelming need. Importantly, this hotline cannot assist with social services like food, clothing, shelter, insurance, or questions about FEMA registration. Volunteers work free of charge and provide the tools and equipment necessary to complete the work.

International Disaster Emergency Service offers 12-foot by 4-foot storage sheds in disaster areas. They are for property owners to store their personal items in while their homes are being assessed and repaired. Anyone needing a storage shed should call Fairland Christian Church at (269) 683-8211.

United Way will continue to accept funds for the cause. One hundred percent will go directly to disaster relief assistance.  Anyone needing cleaning supplies, relief kits, etc. should make sure they call 211 and request these items. Those with immediate needs (clothes, food, gas cards, etc.) should call 211 or Neighbor to Neighbor at (269) 471-7411.

Cash is still needed and can be provided by going to uwsm.org/relief and clicking the donate items button.

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