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Habitat for Humanity Reflects on Helping Rebuild Gaylord After Tornado

As the one-year mark since a devastating tornado destroyed parts of a Northern Michigan community approaches, a local nonprofit is reflecting on how they helped rebuild.

Habitat for Humanity normally works to help keep people, like seniors, in their homes by doing critical repairs or helping people purchase their first home. But after the tornado struck, they switched gears and helped people affected by the storm.

Felicia Guyot, the office and project manager of Otsego-Antrim’s Habitat for Humanity, said it was a crazy time after the storm hit.


“The most unique debris story that I can remember is there was a bouncy ball that went through the back end of the house, and it created a (large) hole. ... You wouldn’t think a bouncy ball could do that much damage, but coming at the right speed, they can do anything,” said Guyot.

She said it was especially crazy because it was her first week on the job. She was hired just four days before the storm hit.

“I texted our executive director and I’m like, ‘What do we do? How can we help?’” recalled Guyot.

Habitat for Humanity worked on homes for 25 families in the area, most of them at the Nottingham Forest Manufactured Home Community.


Remnants of the tornado’s destruction were still visible at the mobile home park, but Habitat for Humanity said if it wasn’t for the help, there’d be a lot more empty lots than there currently are there.

“They said it was like 98% of the trailers taken out. There were trailers all over there, and they’re all gone. Basically we just label them a critical repair instead of a disaster repair because it’s the same thing,” said Guyot.

MJ Labouef lives at Nottingham Forest. He said he doesn’t know what he would have done without their help.

“I had trees from pretty much, at least back there where that shed all on my Firebird. You couldn’t even see the Firebird. Habitat was awesome and got me a new porch,” said Labouef.


The non-profit said they were happy to help the community.

“I think we accomplished a lot of things. I think not only for the community but for ourselves as well. We discovered that we can do about 25 of them in six months with no very little effort,” said Labouef.

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