On May 20, 2022, a tornado ripped through Gaylord damaging businesses, leaving dozens injured and taking the lives of two people. Although the tornado was devastating, it inspired many people to help their community.
“Our first response was to jump into action and to see how we could help,” recalls Gaylord Longterm Recovery Group’s Disaster Recovery Coordinator, Erin Mann.
According to Mann disasters are broken down into different phases of response. The Gaylord Longterm Recovery Group’s emergency response was done in the first eight weeks after the tornado. She says they are just leaving the intermediate or short-term phase and are looking at the long-term phase.
The long-term phase looks to solve the issues the community continues to have since the pandemic. Many low-income residents lost their homes and many of those injured in the tornado have had to travel outside of Gaylord for care and treatment.
Now nine months after, they along with E-Free Church and The Red Cross raised close to $2 million community wide ensuring people’s basic needs are met.
“We’ve been able to put almost $600,000 back into rebuilding and repairing the community. The [Otsego Community Foundation] was also able to give out grants to places like United Way, the Refuge, Habitat for Humanity,” Mann states. “That was all about $900,000 to do those immediate responses and really help individuals get back into their homes.”
Rebuilding efforts still continue today as they say their amazed at how far they’ve come.
“But I think that our community has really come together and it’s been a collective effort to focus on ways on how we can do better, respond better and work together to help Otsego County come back even stronger,” Mann says.