As the water in Grand River slowly recedes, the city of Portland is assessing the damage from multiple floods last week. Even if the city gets money from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, it won’t pay for everything. That’s why one local business is stepping up again and trying to fill in the gaps.
Portland Strong has re-emerged. A T-shirt fundraiser created after a tornado tore through town in 2015 is now aiming to help the city recover from another natural disaster. Hometown Sports started printing the shirts after the tornado to help the homes and churches that were damaged by the tornado.
“At the end of it, I believe we ended up donating about five dollars per shirt,” Amanda May of Hometown Sports said, “and it was somewhere around, I believe, $12,000 or $13,000 that we donated to the local churches.”
This time, the shirts have a new design but serve the same purpose. All the proceeds will go to the Portland Community Fund. Portland residents and businesses can then apply for grants from that fund to pay for damages from the flooding and ice.
At City Hall, officials are reaching out to the state for help. On Saturday, Whitmer delcared a state of emergency for Grand Rapids due to the previous week’s ice storms. Portland City Manager Tutt Gorman hopes she’ll do the same for his city.
“Shortly after the event, (Ionia) County declared a local state of emergency,” Gorman said. “So that lays the procedural foundation for requesting a governor’s declaration down the road.”
Even if the governor does declare a state of emergency for Portland, Gorman says the emergency funds won’t cover the entire cost. He says it will be enough, though, to help the city get up and running by fixing bridges and the sewage plant on the river.
But with so many businesses and homeowners also affected, he says efforts like the Portland Strong fundraiser are key.
“Everybody is wanting to lend a hand,” Amanda May said. “We’ve been in contact with the Portland Community Fund and they have so many people reaching out to them, asking how can I help, what can I do.”
If you’d like to help by buying a Portland Strong shirt, you can visit the Hometown Sports Facebook page. Prices range from $10 to $25.
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The original version of this article first appeared on WLNS.com.