God had a plan!

Sandy and Kevin McCabe chalk it up to God that no one was injured during a fire at their funeral home on 12 Mile during an Aug. 11 storm that left a healthy portion of the Detroit area under water.

"God was looking out for everyone," said Kevin McCabe of the McCabe Funeral Home.

Amen to that. Work is underway on the funeral home that has been gutted due to damage, while operations have been moved to the Arboretum Conference Center, between Farmington and Drake roads. The couple expect the funeral home will be complete at the end of the year or in early 2015.

"This has been such an emotional up and down," Sandy McCabe said. "Within 11 days we had moved into 12,000 square feet (at the Arboretum)."

Residents may not remember the exact date, but surely they remember the storm that flooded highways and basements in August. At about 5:30 p.m., someone attending a visitation noticed smoke coming out of a register. Immediately, the McCabes and their staff immediately evacuated. "One of the families thought a candle burned out," McCabe said.

As it turned out, water — from the downpour outside — seeped into the basement and an electrical socket. "It was so fast," Sandy McCabe said, referring to the thunderstorm and accompanying rain. It is unknown whether lighting may have struck the building, as well.

Amazingly, the power in the building remained on and the seven on staff that night, including the McCabes, ushered the some 300 people and four caskets out within four minutes and next door to St. Fabian's Catholic Church — all in the pouring rain.

"We even ran a prayer service that night," Sandy said, referring to the generosity of the Rev. Jeff Day at St. Fabian's.

The evening's heartwarmer was that people — some in shorts and many just passing —stopped to see what they could do to help. At St. Fabian's the coffee pot was put on and visitations continued. Meanwhile, funeral directors from nearby — including Bob Rock of Thayer-Rock Funeral Home in Farmington — and around the state, were quick to offer their help.

"Our insurance agent asked how soon we could open in the Arboretum and I told him that we have a funeral home ready to go and furniture waiting in the garage," McCabe said. "He asked, 'what do you have? An unspoken brotherhood?"

Pretty much. "We have heard from just about every funeral home from all corners of the state," he added. "The outpouring from the community and colleagues has been the positive thing through all of this."

Thanks to plenty of help and loaned furniture and other items, the McCabe Funeral Home in the Arboretum has become home — while work continues on restoring the funeral home. Everything that would usually take place at their original location continues, except embalming, for example, which is completed at the McCabe Funeral Home in Canton.

"God had a plan," Sandy said. "The staff was as calm as can be. None of us talked. We just did what we had to do."

As Kevin McCabe describes it, customers and visitors stop into the temporary funeral home and rave about it, suggesting it looks like it has always been there. But everything at the original funeral home is being redone, including carpeting and wallpaper.

Passersby will notice landscaping underway at the front of the funeral home, which was something planned before the fire, as was new paving in the parking lot. In fact in the past two years, the McCabes had redecorated the interior. An entire new lighting system was also included in that renovation, Kevin McCabe said.

But the McCabes, who have been in the funeral business for four generations — starting in Detroit in 1893 — are moving forward, always grateful no one was injured in the fire and touched by the outpouring of support.

"Our employees are angels," Sandy McCabe said.

In a letter to the community posted on the McCabe website (www.mccabefuneralhome.com), the couple thanked all who helped and continue to do so:

"While Sandy and I would prefer this event had never happened, the blessings and help from our friends at St. Fabian, friends in the community, and our colleagues in funeral service, have shown not only what we all mean to each other, but that nothing gives comfort and strength like the power of prayer. May God give you peace."

jmaliszews@hometownlife.com | 248-396-6620
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