Posts Tagged ‘flood assistance’

How Hebrew Free Loan is helping Jewish Families after Flooding in the Metro Detroit Area: Estie Gomez’s story

September 19th, 2014


On Aug. 11, 2014, many southeast Michigan residents were victims of a flood caused by torrential rainstorms.  Many people had to deal with waterlogged basements and destroyed personal, sentimental possessions. The water was so deep in some of these basements that even items carefully placed in plastic bins with lids were ruined.


This was the case of Estie Gomez.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

Estie Gomez and her family




Estie was coming home from work as her husband was going out to see a client.  As they crossed paths, Estie’s husband told her to call a roofing company since there was a leak in the kitchen ceiling.  The roofer, referred to her by her sister-in-law, was going to come out to take a look at the roof in the next couple of days.  Later on, Estie’s sister-in-law texted her again to say that her basement was flooding.  Estie was so concerned with the roof that she never thought to look in the basement.


Estie told her husband to take a look at the basement.  She heard him say, “Our basement is flooding!”  In disbelief, Estie said, “Don’t joke.”


Her husband responded, “I’m not joking.”  At this point, the water had already reached the top of the bottom step, about six inches.  They both rushed down to the basement to turn off the air conditioner and fuse box.  They were in shock at what they saw.


The baby gear, toys and books were floating in the water.  The mobile Estie used with both of her young children was swirling around in the rising water.


As she was trying to process the horrific scene, a plastic bin filled with her deceased mother’s cookbooks and hand-written recipes tipped over into the water.  Estie was heartbroken to see the irreplaceable family heirlooms drifting in the water.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

Damage from the flood




The water eventually receded and even though Estie contacted restoration companies, she never heard back.


Their furnace, which was making strange noises, needed to be serviced and they had no hot water.  They tried to relight the pilot light, but could not do it.  A service man came out to relight it and saw the soggy mess in the basement.  He knew someone who could help them clear out their basement and by Friday, they hired the man to help them bring everything up and out of their basement.


By Sunday, Estie and her husband started to sanitize their basement.  They worked with two hoses to rinse away the sewage and proceeded to bleach everything they could such as their silver, cups and glasses.  Boxes of photos and the beloved family recipes were set out to dry.  Unfortunately, many things could not be salvaged such as sweaters, baby clothes and school projects.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

This was part of the garbage. More bags were added.




Estie was completely overwhelmed with cleaning and sanitizing the basement when the roofer shared his upsetting news: Estie would need to replace the entire roof on their home.


The money they saved for their summer vacation (which was supposed to be that same week) was not enough to cover the roof.  The kids were disappointed about vacation plans being altered and Estie and her husband were frustrated that the time they set aside for vacation and to celebrate their ninth anniversary was going to be spent repairing the house.


Broken and devastated, Estie reached out to Hebrew Free Loan.





The process for the interest-free loan was carried out quickly.  By the end of the week, Estie and her husband had a meeting and were approved for a loan.  The meeting was not just a quick run of numbers; Estie said her family appreciated the warm and compassionate treatment they received. They were treated like people, not just a number, she said.


Hebrew Free Loan was able to lift the weight off of Estie’s shoulders.  With Hebrew Free Loan’s help, they were able to put a new roof on their house.


As of the second week of September, Hebrew Free Loan has approved 36 interest-free loans, which added up to a total of $265,000, for flood victims.  As always, the agency is standing by to assist Jewish families in this time of need and loss.




For more information on how to get help, please visit our website  or call us at 248-723-8184.  We can also be reached via email at


To learn more about our mission, upcoming activities, or other ways we help the Jewish community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.




The Metro Detroit August Flood: It Hit Home at Hebrew Free Loan

September 2nd, 2014


Homes damaged. Families hopelessly watching as water rose in their basements, damaging furniture, walls and priceless memories and belongings. It was dubbed “floodmageddon.”

On August 11, 2014, thousands of southeast Michigan residents experienced a intense rainstorm that dropped up to 6.3 inches of water over the course of a few hours. Roads flooded — stranding motorists — and neighborhood storm and sewage systems were overwhelmed, creating a surge of contaminated water in low-lying living spaces.


HFL flood blog pic 3

Hundreds of members of our Jewish community (like me, Hebrew Free Loan’s Executive Director David Contorer) who live in the Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley and Oak Park areas – and other communities in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties — were inundated with flood water around our cars and in our basements. As a result, there is an unprecedented amount of property damage to autos and homes and a public health nightmare could be waiting for those families who do not properly and thoroughly clean up the water and sewage left behind.

But for many Jewish families, help is available.


HFL flood blog pic 1

Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) is a key part of our Jewish community’s response to this disaster. In close partnership with the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service, HFL has already expedited our loan review process to efficiently help those who have had property damage. HFL’s Executive Committee unanimously agreed to put this emergency plan into action to show our organization’s sense of urgency to help those in these dire conditions. Our Jewish Federation will back some of the riskier loans (that would not be approved during HFL’s regular loan vetting process), because our community is focused on helping those in need now without bureaucracy or excuses.


The process goes like this for Jewish community flood victims who need assistance paying for basement cleaning (tear-outs, restoration, anti-microbial spray), repair or replacement of damaged furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers and other urgent costs. If you or someone you love in the Jewish community has been affected, please contact the Jewish Assistance Network (JAN) at (248) 592-2650, where helpful responders (from Jewish Family Service) will refer those in need to immediate assistance at either Hebrew Free Loan or to Jewish Family Service (for those families who may not be in the position to take out a loan).

At HFL, our team of caring and dedicated staff and volunteer leaders will take client information and (within a week) have a response with next steps towards securing an interest-free loan that will pay for the clean-up and repair for borrowers.

I could not be more proud of HFL’s board members who have come to the agency to spend hours on intake phone calls from flood victims (side by side with our HFL professional team).


HFL’s mission is to “provide loans and promise dignity” and you can hear the sighs of relief as we execute this mission from the dozens of flood victims who say things like, “Thank G-d you are here! I am so thankful for what you are doing to help us!”

The flood waters have receded and I know I’m not the only one with a ruined skeleton of a basement, haunted by wood studs and concrete floors. Hundreds of members of our Jewish community have basements that look like mine. Three or four cycles of once-beautiful furnishings and collectibles have been picked up at the curb, making our neighborhoods appear to be war zones. The cost of clean-up and repair will be enormous and no family in our community planned to spend these thousands of dollars (that most people do not have as liquid cash-flow in the best of circumstances).

Yet, thanks to Hebrew Free Loan, Jewish Family Service and our Jewish Federation’s coordinated efforts, we are going to help each family to get things cleaned up and get back to normal as soon as possible.


For more information on how to get help, please visit our Web site or call us at 248-723-8184. We can also be reached via email at

To learn more about our mission, upcoming activities or other ways we help the Jewish community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.