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Local agencies offer one-stop shop for tornado relief resources

A front door and porch side of a red brick home in Portage damaged by the tornado on May 7, 2024.  A large tree crashed through the right side of the house. White gutter are torn off or tilted and askew.  Large section of lawn is pulled up revealing the tree roots from large trees that were knocked over.  Large patches of shingles have been shorn off the roof and the wood beneath is exposed and standing on end.
Leona Larson
A house in Portage damaged by the May 7 tornado.

A multitude of local agencies are coming together to help Kalamazoo County residents recovering from the May 7 tornado.

An easy connection to resources

At least 19 agencies will be at the Kalamazoo Salvation Army Friday, May 17 to provide a one-stop shop of resources to help residents bounce back from last week’s tornado.

Resources range from food, water and clothing assistance to mental health counseling and emotional support animals.

Ashley Bergeon, from Griffin Place, is one of the event coordinators. She said the event will make accessing resources more convenient for effected groups.

“They can see what those agencies provide, what services they might be eligible for it, and then sign up for any of those services on site.”

Bergeon added that accessing these resources is often difficult after a disaster.

“They're trying to coordinate, ‘Where am I going to be staying the next few nights? And where am I going to get my food?’ This just takes some of that burden off of them.”

A second event will be held next Friday, May 24, at the Zhang Senior Center. So far, 21 agencies are set to attend.

Donations accepted

In a related effort, a new donation center opened in Portage Wednesday for people who want to help those impacted by the May 7 tornado.

The Gryphon Place donation management center at 9246 Portage Industrial Drive in Portage will accept items like first aid supplies, hygiene items, pet supplies and $50 gift cards to Meijer, Target or Walmart.

For a list of all items the center can accept, go to the City of Portage Tornado Recovery Resources web page.

The donation drop-off is open weekdays from 10 AM to 4 PM.

The Gryphon Place donation site cannot accept food. Donations of food should go to Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes.

The center will also not be able to accept clothing, furniture, small appliances or toys. Those items should go to Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan.

Families and individuals directly affected by the tornado may contact the donations hotline at (269)251-221 for help.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.