THE UNITED WAY OF GENESEE COUNTY (serving Shiawassee County) visited the Corunna Community Center to deliver a check to the American Red Cross/Michigan Region early on Friday, March 15. The $20,000 check was delivered in response to the Thursday evening tornadoes in Shiawassee County – to help quickly link people to necessary resources minus some of the constraints and worries of cost.

   Shown are (from left) Corunna Mayor Chuck Kerridge, Red Cross shelter supervisor Dawn Newman, United Way of Genesee CEO Jamie Gaskin and board member Jeff Apsey.

   The Red Cross had arrived in Corunna on Thursday evening, just hours after two tornadoes had set down in the county, with two more in neighboring Genesee County. At the time of the photo, Red Cross assessment crews were scouring the county to verify damages.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


   Shiawassee County officials held a press conference on the morning of Thursday, March 21 near the intersection of Newburg and Bancroft roads in Shiawassee Township, one of the areas hardest hit by the tornados that touched down on Thursday, March 14. During the press conference, Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole and Shiawassee County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Trent Atkins thanked those who have assisted with the recovery effort, and it was announced that the United Way of Genesee and Shiawassee counties has established a fund to assist families impacted by the tornados.

   Contributions can be dropped off in person, mailed or made online. No administrative fees will be taken from these donation funds. Checks should be made out to: United Way of Genesee County C/O Tornado Relief Fund. Additionally, the Genesee County United Way has provided $10,000 for the fund, as has Frank Torre of Signal Restoration Services, of Troy.

   Funds will be distributed through a review process that will include three to five community members, who will review cases as presented through the established Emergency Operations Center. These grants will be focused on basic needs and home repairs.

   Sheriff BeGole thanked the “hundreds of volunteers who have been instrumental in the recovery process,” along with such organizations as the Salvation Army, the United Way, the Red Cross, Team Rubicon, the Michigan State Defense Force, the Durand Senior Center, the Vernon Township Fire Department, Waste Management, Durand United Methodist Church, Crooked Tree Nursey, Agnew Signs, Verizon and the Shiawassee County Road Commission, among many others.

   “It is critical that we establish a fund to assist those impacted in a meaningful and thoughtful way. The United Way is a longstanding community partner, and we are thankful for their support and the support of all our nonprofit partners,” said Atkins, a 30-year emergency management veteran.

   Sheriff BeGole shared during the press conference that more than 90 Shiawassee County homes have been affected, resulting in more than $3.5 million in damages, with an additional $4.5 million in damages to four Shiawassee County businesses. Atkins added that 24 homes have been damaged to the point of being unlivable.

   “It has been amazing what we have seen from the community,” shared Atkins. “The resilience of the community has been amazing. The tornado tracked 18 miles, damaging more than 90 homes, four businesses, 16 barns and 22 RVs. In most places it would take weeks to clean up from a storm of this magnitude, but we could have this cleaned up by the end of this weekend. And we could not have done it without all the volunteers. This community really came together.”

   Donations in person should be dropped off at the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office, 201 E. McArthur St., Corunna. Donations can be mailed to: United Way Genesee County C/O Tornado Relief Fund, 111 E. Court St., Flint, MI 48502. Donations are also being accepted online, at

Fund Established to Support Tornado Victims was last modified: March 25th, 2019 by Karen Elford