GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A West Michigan nonprofit organization is calling on the community to help one of Grand Rapids’ sister cities after major flooding devastated many of its neighborhoods.
A heavy storm last weekend in Zapopan, Mexico caused a creek to burst and sent water and debris throughout the area according to local media. The scope of the disaster is still being determined, but pictures and videos show destroyed roads and homes caked in mud.
Zapopan, located in central Mexico, has been on of Grand Rapids’ sister cities since 2008.
“Initially, I felt just so much empathy for the people,” said Erika Plunkett. “I’ve walked all of those streets. There are some people that I know by name is those neighborhoods.”
Plunkett is the executive director of AMA International, a West Michigan based nonprofit organization that serves the city’s 300,000 people living in extreme poverty.
Earlier this summer, AMA launched a mobile medical unit, which has so far brought basic medical treatment to 600 individuals. Plunkett says its back-to-school efforts were set to start the day after the flooding occurred.
The organization is now shifting its focus and raising money and partnering with local businesses to provide water, clothing, and cleaning supplies to the roughly 1,000 families in need.
“We’re taking it one day at a time, like what’s needed, how we can help, and what should we be buying,” said Plunkett.
Plunkett says even in the midst of the uncertainty, Zapopan’s people remain positive, pushing AMA to do what it can too.
“We’ve invested so much in this community and we truly, truly care,” said Plunkett. “They’re family to us and we want to help them through this time just like we did with the pandemic. We just continue to try to give that hope, give that inspiration, give love so people can feel like, ‘Okay, we’re going to be okay, we have people behind us who care’ and that makes all the difference.”
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