GAYLORD — The recovery from the May 20 tornado is moving into a different phase now as the community looks to help individuals address more than just basic needs.
"The bleeding has stopped and we are in the middle part of the recovery process. We are starting to dig deep to understand what people's true needs are. We need to try to get people back on their feet and get them the things they need to move forward," said Erin Mann, the former director of the Otsego County United Way.
Mann recently left the United Way to achieve a better work-life balance and now serves as a disaster recovery coordinator to expedite the long term recovery process.
"I am excited to announce there are currently Disaster Case Managers (DCMs) and a construction manager in place to help those hundreds of individuals impacted by the tornado navigate resources to recuperate from this tragedy," she said.
The case management team and construction manager will work under the United Methodist Committee on Relief via a grant funded by the Otsego Community Foundation. The three case managers will work out of the Otsego County United Way office at 116 E. 5th St. in Gaylord.
The DCMs goals are to assist and guide individuals through the rebuilding journey in working closely with the construction manager to assess homeowner needs, remediation completeness and develop plans.
One of the DCMs is Christine “Chris” Czajkowski, who has been a staple in the human service community in Otsego County for five years serving as the face of the Refuge which serves the homeless community in the county.
“It seemed like a natural transition for me to help in this temporary role, since I am working with many of the homeless tornado survivors already. I am looking forward to watching these individuals recover and it has been one of the biggest honors to serve them during this unimaginable crisis," Czajkowski said in a statement.
DCMs will be available to help people apply for SBA loans and be their advocates, providing both emotional encouragement and tangible resources.
"My job is to bring people together and share information," said Mann.
The construction manager is Randy Urban and he will work with Habitat for Humanity and other agencies.
Mann said some individuals are just now discovering they have issues related to the tornado.
"Some may have thought they didn't have any damage and now over two months later, they do have some damage," said Mann.
They should contact the DCMs to get assistance. To schedule an appointment with a DCM, call (989) 732-8929.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Tornado recovery moves beyond meeting basic needs