Tornado Relief Fund disburses nearly $80K

The Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Long-Term Relief Committee (LTRC) is still accepting applications from families in need of assistance stemming from the April 10 tornado. The foundation’s Tornado Relief Fund was established to address long-term and unmet needs for businesses and families that have been affected by the storm.

The foundation set guidelines early on in the process for the types of expenses that their fund considers. Each category is based on local priority needs and funding amounts have maximum caps/limits that have been set based on available funds. The funding categories include: home construction repairs, home appliance repair/replacement; house mechanicals; stump and brush removal; and tipping fees at the Lincoln County landfill. The foundation’s LTRC meets every few weeks to review local priorities and make any adjustments necessary to their established categories and/or funding caps.

“To-date we have provided assistance to more than 75 affected households, disbursing nearly $80,000 for uncovered expenses”, states Debbe Kinsey, the foundation’s fund administrator. “More than half of that amount has been for construction costs not covered by homeowners insurance.”

In addition the foundation has paid tipping fees for more than 30 households, purchased 12 new mailboxes that were installed by the Merrill Fire Department and disbursed 2,500 trees donated by PCA of Tomahawk.

The Chamber of Commerce continues to work with area organizations and keeps a complete list of businesses and service information on the front page of their website at

In addition, they continue to meet with United Way agencies and churches involved in the continuing relief efforts on a regular basis. These organizations include St. John’s Lutheran Church, Saint Vincent De Paul, Merrill Food Pantry, Salvation Army, North Central Community Action Program and Lincoln County Emergency Management.

Long-term donations are still needed for the rebuilding process. To make a tax-deductible donation to the Tornado Relief Fund please make checks payable to: Chamber Foundation Tornado Relief Fund and drop-off or mail to: Merrill Chamber of Commerce, 705 N. Center Avenue, Merrill, WI 54452. Applications for assistance can also be picked up at the Chamber office. Kinsey encourages anyone who has uncovered expenses from the storm to apply for assistance. “The fund was established as a way to assist Merrill families”, concluded Kinsey. “This fund is for you.”

The Chamber Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 and administers many community funds for Merrill including the Hanging Flower Basket Fund, Courthouse Holiday Lighting Fund and the Friends of Normal Park Fund.

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