Kent County Habitat for Humanity rebuilds re-store after tornado

KENTWOOD, Mich.–It’s been more than a month since that tornado touched down in southern Kent County, and still neighbors and businesses are feeling the effects. One of those is Habitat for Humanity, whose main hub was damaged, putting their whole franchise in jeopardy when they learned the repairs could take months. The tornado tore through the storage yard and truck fleet, ripping holes in the roof. The storm forced them to throw out their inventory and shut down until they could fix the damage.

Hundreds of pieces of furniture, appliances, cabinets, you name it, all had to be tossed out because of the damage the storm left behind. However, the re-store for Habitat of Humanity in Kent County refused to be shut down. They just had to find a different way to keep their operations going at that location.

“I was surprised when I saw how much water was inside the store,” said Maria Carreno, an employee of the Re-Store on Division Avenue South for 6 years.

Carreno was knee deep in water damage the day after the storm when she showed up for work.

“Well you know you wake up in the morning and there had been a storm but you really have no idea how bad it is until you pull in,” said Philip Zoutendam, communications specialist for Habitat for Humanity in Kent County.

When Philip Zoutendam went to see what happened to the store he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“The roof had been pretty severely damaged. There were a few skylights that weren’t supposed to be there, so lots of water dripping in.

Today the store keeps employees and customers out with yellow caution tape, and useless appliances that have no purpose just sit outside.

“It’s kind of your worst nightmare you have all this furniture that’s supposed to have a second life and you know you can’t really do anything with it,” said Zoutendam.

The Division Avenue S location is there largest store and with habitat for humanity building 25 houses per year on top of rehab projects and renovations for the area. They couldn’t afford to lose these resources.

“The biggest thing was what are we going to do with our restore operation now?”

The repairs would take until November, and with the volume of supplies coming in they needed a place to store it and quick. They moved to a temporary location on Eastern Avenue SE all within a week.

Now, they say their sales are average, and those 25 houses they will build for other people in the next year won’t take a hit.

The Re-Store hopes to be back in the regular location at the end of October or beginning of November.

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