Ward Lumber employee Dustin Frederick and parents Wayne and Lorie stand with owner Jay Ward and fellow employee Travis Thwaits.
The tapes that relive the moments when Dustin Frederick captured back-to-back state wrestling championships for the AuSable Valley Patriots were ruined when floodwaters intruded into his family’s home during Tropical Storm Irene.
“Those are nothing compared to the house being declared a total loss,” Frederick said.
On Sept. 23, he and Travis Thwaits stood with their employer, Jay Ward, on the steps of Ward Lumber in Jay as the boss gave both some welcomed relief.
Through the Lumber Industry for Today (LIFT), Frederick and his family, along with Thwaits, received grants to help them rebuild.
“We have lived there 15 years, and we had never had a problem with flooding until this spring,” said Dustin’s father, Wayne, about the house he owns on Burt Lane in Au Sable Forks.
“We had just renovated the house from the April flooding when this happened,” Dustin said.
The Fredericks received $2,000 in funding through the program that is run with the help of lumber companies throughout the Northeast. Thwaits, who was serving as a member of the Jay Volunteer Fire Department and formerly served with the National Guard in Iraq, received $500 as a renter.
“I was hurting for them and looking for ways to try and help,” Ward said. “I found out about this program that is totally volunteer through all lumber dealers and employee team members from different lumber yards helping each other out, and I went to them and said, let’s do this.”
“I had to break the news to my roommates about what happened,” Thwaits said. “Jay came to us with this and pretty much took care of everything. FEMA couldn’t really help out that much because I was renting, so this is very welcome.”
Thwaits lived in a house that he was renting with friends on Sheldrake Road in Jay when the storm hit, and said that he was unable to make it home to check on the house.
“They had all the roads closed that night, so I decided to stay at the firehouse and check it out in the morning,” Thwaits said. “When I first got there, you could smell the fuel oil, and then I went in and saw what the water had done to the house.”
Dustin Frederick said that the leaking from kerosene tanks at his house and the sediment from the river made this flooding worse than the flooding in April.
“The kerosene and all of the mud was tougher to deal with than just water and ice,” he said.
The Fredericks have already started to work on their house for the second time in four months, saying that they plan to stay there despite the recent events.
They also said they were thankful for the grant.
“I really appreciate the help,” Wayne Frederick said. “I have worked with a lot of companies and never had one do something like this of an employee.”
“Jay told us that he had found this opportunity to help and he was going to get it for us,” Dustin Frederick said. “Jay basically did all of the paperwork.”
Ward said that his company was contributing a quarter of the funds to the two employees, with the rest coming from the LIFT program.