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MSU, state government responses to catastrophic Midland flooding

May 21, 2020
The Sparty Statue on March 19, 2020
The Sparty Statue on March 19, 2020 —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Multiple breached dams in mid-Michigan caused severe flooding in the area, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. In response, Michigan State and surrounding institutions gathered resources to help those affected.

The 96-year-old Edenville Dam had ruptured nearly two years after federal regulators revoked its license to generate hydropower.

“Our hearts, prayers and support go out to all those impacted by the devastating floods in the Midland area,” MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen said. “The very real stresses of the coronavirus, compounded with the anxiety of being displaced from one’s home due to flooding, is something no one deserves.”

Olsen said MSU is currently working to identify damage to existing facilities in the Midland area and reaching out to employees in the surrounding area to check on their well-being, as well as developing resources for those affected through MSU Extension.

MSU Extension’s Severe Weather and Flooding website serves as a resource for families dealing with weather, power outages, localized flooding, and food safety, which is being updated and can be helpful to those affected by the current floods.

“Even when the water levels start to recede, many will still directly feel the impacts of the storm,” MSU Extension Communications Manager Becky McKendry said in a statement. 

MSU Extension created an educational roundup for questions and concerns Michigan residents might have about the flooding.

The site features frequently asked questions including tips on financial strategies, food safety and coping with stress.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Wednesday that they expressed commitment to explore all legal avenues to assist Michigan residents recovering from the flood in Midland County to secure compensation for damages to public property and natural resources.

“The damage from this crisis has devastated thousands of Midland County residents and business owners,” Whitmer said in the statement. “We must work together to ensure everyone who has been impacted by this event has the support they need to recover. I will work with the Attorney General and my partners at the state and federal level to help our families through this, and to help them get back on their feet once it’s safe to return home.”

Additionally, the American Red Cross is offering shelters to house residents that have evacuated their homes acting on orders from local emergency management and Whitmer, according to a press release from the state emergency operations center.

Michigan National Guard units of about 130 soldiers and 40 specialized vehicles from Bay City, Saginaw, Port Huron and other areas are working to aid the Midland County communities.

The request for this aid by the Michigan State Police was made after the May 19 failure of the Edenville Dam and breach of the Sanford Dam. The units arrived in the affected areas and began missions at about 4 a.m. on May 20.

Red Cross teams are also surveying damaged homes and working with local emergency management to assess the impact of the flooding and additional needs to surrounding communities such as Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Ogemaw and Saginaw counties. 

The locations offering shelter include:

Coleman High School 4951 N. Lewis Road Coleman, MI 48618

North Midland Family Center 2601 E. Shearer Road Midland, MI 48642

Midland High School 1301 Eastlawn Drive Midland, MI 48642

West Midland Family Center 4011 W. Isabella Road Shepherd, MI 48883

Bullock Creek High School 1420 S. Badour Road Midland, MI 48640

Freeland High School 8250 Webster Road Freeland, MI 48623

Swan Valley High School 8380 Ohern Road Saginaw, MI 48609

Hemlock High School 733 N. Hemlock Road Hemlock, MI 48626

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