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Here's how you can help Gaylord residents after Friday's deadly tornado

There are two main, verified funds through local organizations: one through the Otsego County Community Foundation, and the United Way.

GAYLORD, Mich. — Days after the deadly tornado tore through the Northern Michigan city of Gaylord, residents are combing through debris and cleaning up what is left of their homes. 

There are many ways people outside the community can help Gaylord.

Two verified funds have been set up through local organizations. One is through the Otsego Community Foundation. Their tornado relief fund can be found by clicking here.

The Otsego County United Way also has a disaster relief fund set up. A link to that fund can be found by clicking here.

Cameron Stefanski is a Gaylord resident and community chair for the Karing Home Youth Project. He is organizing community aid in Gaylord in the aftermath of the tornado. He said the best thing people can help with right now is supporting local efforts. 

"Supporting our local organizations that are nonprofits on the ground working tirelessly is more important to me, personally, than supporting a national organization at this given time right now," said Stefanski, "Because that money is in the hands of people who can distribute it quicker."

He said people can donate money to the two community funds. Donations of physical items can be dropped off at the United Way located at 116 E 5th St. in Gaylord. Anyone interested in shipping items, or sending items directly from Amazon or other online store, can send them to the Karing Home Youth Project, which will be delivered to the Otsego County United Way. That address is PO Box 693 Gaylord, MI 49735. 

RELATED: BBB: What to keep in mind when donating to Gaylord recovery funds

Disaster relief crews ask the community to call 211 for any immediate assistance. 

Anyone displaced from their home can also contact The Refuge in Otsego County by emailing christherefuge@gmail.com or calling (989)350-8231. 

Mental health services during a natural disaster is vital. North Country Community Mental Health can be reached at 877-470-4668. 

"I think we live in a time where there is a lot of divisiveness," said Stefanski, "and to see the immediate outpouring of support, not just locally, it reminds you of the greatness of humanity in times like this."

Stefanski said there are three main needs in the community. The first is help with clearing debris. There is also a need for finding temporary and then long-term housing for people who have lost their homes in the tornado. Plus, finding clothing, food and other items for those displaced is an immediate need. 

"We're finding out hour by hour of the needs that need to be met and addressed," said Stefanski, "Intention is so important, and that’s a great way to show your support in a time of need."

RELATED VIDEO: Why The Gaylord EF-3 Tornado Was So Rare

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