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Crisis & Emergency Response

Benton Harbor lead water help

City of Benton Harbor Clean Drinking Water

It is SMCAA’s belief that everyone has the right to safe, clean water.

Since September 30, 2021, SMCAA has been offering bottled water to the residents of the City of Benton Harbor following reports of elevated levels of lead in the city-supplied water. The State of Michigan is providing free bottled water as City residents are being encouraged to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods, and mixing powdered infant formula.


To-date, SMCAA and its community partners has distributed over 560,000 cases of bottled water to the 9,800 residents living in the City.

River Springs Estates Flooding

River Springs Estates Flooding

In February 2018, a local mobile home park, River Springs Estates in Berrien Springs, experienced a devastating flood. Due to a failing dam and crested river, 32 homes were destroyed and 60 were in need of repair and mold inspections. The park evacuated over 200 individuals, the majority of whom were low-income families.


SMCAA was the first agency on-scene with boots on the ground. We set up a temporary office onsite at the park to assist residents with relocation, food products, and utility assistance. SMCAA was also able to weatherize 11 of the mobile homes in need of repair to better serve these families.

COVID response team

COVID-19 Crisis

In an effort to respond to the immediate needs of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren County residents, SMCAA began implementing COVID-mitigating programs such as the CARES Relief and Recovery Services and Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). Despite experiencing budget cuts, shrinking resources, and increased demands for services during these challenging economic times, SMCAA was successful assisting the low-income families of Southwest Michigan to achieve and maintain economic security.


Between the months of April to December 2020, SMCAA serviced 54,634 (possibly duplicated) households with food and personal hygiene products, distributed 16,936 masks to vulnerable populations, and assisted 351 households with emergency utility assistance.

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