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Thursday Tornado Press Conference Regarding Long Term Recovery -- Full Video

Sheriff, Emergency Manager Provide Update On Cleanup and Announce Fund Set Up to Support Victims Long Term

Posted by Durand Now at 2:47pm 3/21/19

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Jamie Gaskin, United Way of Genesee County CEO, addresses members of the media at a Thursday morning press conference./Durand Now photo

"We stand here today for the good of the community," Sheriff Brian BeGole expressed during a press conference held Thursday morning, March 21st, near the intersection of Newburg and Bancroft Road; the area hardest hit by a confirmed EF-2 tornado that struck Shiawassee County one week prior.

The event was held to introduce long term plans for supporting families that were impacted by the storm that damaged and destroyed homes, businesses and property to the tune of an estimated $8 million.

Sheriff BeGole updated numbers at the press conference, noting that over the course of the past week, the count of homes damaged by the storm has increased to more than 90.  The estimate for residential property damage is $3.5 million, while the cost to the businesses that were destroyed is estimated to be $4.5 million.

Shiawassee County Commissioner Jeremy Root welcomed the media audience before handing things off to Sheriff BeGole.

BeGole noted that the reception center in Durand has been "overflowing with help" from volunteers.

  "We're a small community and we feel that by beginning this effort that more people who want to get involved will," he said before introducing Shiawassee County Emergency Manager, Trent Atkins.

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Atkins shared the story of the Hinkleys, whose now-unlivable home was the press conference backdrop.  Aaron Hinkley, Atkins said, laid atop his 8 year old daughter and wife to protect them as the house crumbled around them.  The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations have been on hand to help provide victims of the storm with immediate needs like housing, food, water and other special needs, but Atkins said that mission is narrow.  92% of the victims, Atkins said, were insured.  8% were underinsured or uninsured, and will need support for a longer period of time.

The morning's press conference announced a partnership with the United Way of Genesee County, who has agreed to handle donations for long term recovery efforts for Shiawassee County, with no administrative fees.  Additionally, Atkins said, the United Way has donated $10,000 seed money, matched by Signal Restoration CEO, Frank Torre, who donated an additional $10,000 to the fund.

"It's been amazing what we've seen from the community," Atkins said.  "Resources have fallen out of the sky."

Atkins lauded the incredible community effort, saying it is the reason there is a good chance that debris cleanup efforts will be 100% complete by the end of the weekend.

United Way of Genesee County CEO, Jamie Gaskin, flanked by American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter Director, Kelly King, also spoke of the collaborative efforts.  "When disasters happen, we all work very hard to try to come together to make people whole again," he said, "but we're never quite the same."  Gaskin continued, "We very much become different people, and I think we become better people."

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TOP STORY

18 Miles of Destruction from Confirmed EF-2 Tornado

Four Confirmed Tornadoes Touched Down On Thursday
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Updated at 11:57am 3/16/19 - Posted by Durand Now at 8:51am 3/16/19

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Del Chapman

The National Weather Service now confirms that four tornadoes touched down on Thursday in Shiawassee and Genesee counties.

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