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‘Project Vernon Rebuild’ aims to get flood victim back in his home

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    MIDLAND, Michigan (WNEM) — As we approach one-year since the dam failures in mid-Michigan, some residents still are unable to occupy their homes. But one center in Midland is still putting in the work to get people back inside their house.

For one Hope resident, starting fresh wasn’t an option.

It’s called Project Vernon Rebuild.

“It’s not a very easy project,” Umbareen Jamil from the Islamic Center of Midland.

His house as a special meaning to Vernon Loree.

“My grandfather built this himself,” Loree said.

“There’s a lot of emotional attachment to the home,” Jamil said.

Last year’s flood filled up this home with 30-inches of water. It’s now been gutted thanks to work done by the Islamic Center of Midland.

“We’ve been trying to figure out various avenues of how to get Vernon the help he needs so he can move back into his home,” Jamil said.

Instead of demolishing the home, with the help of some grants and other partners they are rebuilding and bringing the house back up to code.

“It’ll make it a lot easier for us. It’ll be a lot faster, too,” Loree said.

Helping Loree, who is under his sister Lynn’s care, was a no-brainer.

“I mean this one is special,” Jamil said. “Vernon is sort of like our family. I mean, we’re going to take care of him. We’re going to make sure that by the time the one-year of the dam failure hits that he’s back in his home.”

But the work racks up quite the cost. Even though the center has raised over $120,000 for flood survivors in the past year, they realize there’s donor fatigue.

But when they do get the money, it’s automatically used on residents still in need.

“To get thousands of dollars’ worth of checks from people you’ve never met, and they completely trust you that you’re going to put these funds to good use, that’s super humbling to us,” Jamil said.

They hope to raise up to $50 to 60,000 for this project. You can donate by sending money to the Islamic Center PayPal or sending a check to the Islamic Center of Midland at 1801 North Stark Road, Midland, MI 48642.

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