Janzen House recovers from flood damage

The+east+wall+of+emergency+shelter+after+renovations.+The+beds+and+exit+were+built+and+donated+by+the+Northern+Contracter+Program.+Photo+by%3A+Neil+Flavin

The east wall of emergency shelter after renovations. The beds and exit were built and donated by the Northern Contracter Program. Photo by: Neil Flavin

Trevor Drew

Since floodwaters severely damaged the lower level of the historic Janzen House in downtown Marquette over a year ago, the shelter has restored and renovated the area, which is now fully functional.

In October of 2016, hundreds of gallons of rainwater and debris pushed in the back door of the Janzen, flooding the emergency shelter along with the entire lower level.

On top of having to hire professionals to pump out water and dehumidify the drenched area, the project would require additional work in weekly increments for the rest of the year, Brent Clark, the Janzen House director said.
“We were not covered by insurance. We have a very limited budget,” Clark said. “That’s part of why we couldn’t fix things immediately—because we couldn’t get ahead of our budget.”

In order to stay within the allowed budget, Clark said the renovations, on top of another project that was started prior to the flood, were worked on at a slower pace.

“A lot of it was taking advantage of people that had community service hours to volunteer and the fact that a lot of people that actually live in the building are fairly talented, so I was able to trade some rent credit to get some skilled labor done,” Clark said. “That was hugely cost saving for us.”

As of now, the lower level of the house, which is utilized for transitional housing and donation storage, is now completely functional, Clark said.
He added that the only thing left to do are aesthetic touches like wall covers and carpeting which will be funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Marquette County.

One of the challenges of completing the project was the fact that Clark is the only actual employee of the Janzen, senior social work major and Janzen intern Lauren Munson said, adding the addition of herself and another intern has relieved some of the stress on Clark.

“It’s been a slow continued process. Like constantly, there’s something else to do,” Munson said. “You’re trying to literally redo an entire hotel.”

Clark said he encourages anyone to donate anything they think would be useful to their guests but added that socks and underwear are a highly desired item.

He added that monetary donations, no matter how small, are beneficial to the shelter along with volunteer labor.