Rising Together in Midland, Michigan
May 19, 2020 will be a date that longs sticks in the memory of residents of the central Michigan community of Midland County. It was on that date that record-setting levels of rainfall led to the failure of two different dams in the county, resulting in a 500-year level flood. Local officials estimate that 10,000 individuals were evacuated from their homes that night, and miraculously there was not a single fatality. The same evening The Salvation Army’s disaster services response began, initially helping provide blankets at a temporary shelter set up at an area high school. The following day, even when many of The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services volunteers from Midland County were unable to navigate washed out roads, EDS teams from neighboring Genesee county responded to help provide meals from their canteen to flood survivors staying at area motels. Due to COVID restrictions, congregate shelters were only open for a couple of days before moving everyone into several motels throughout the community. The Salvation Army of Midland worked to help provide dinner every day to those staying at the hotels from May 20 through July 12, serving over 2,800 meals. They also distributed more than 1,000 clean up kits.
One family impacted by the flood is Dan and Sue Fry, members of the Midland Corps Community Center. The lower level of their home filled nearly to the ceiling, wiping out their furnace, freezer, water heater, and laundry appliances, in addition to ruining furniture and many personal items. To make matters worse, a few weeks after the flood waters had completely receded, their well went dry because of the changes to the water table levels following the dam failures, leaving them without water in their home for 7 weeks while they waited for a new well to be dug.
The Salvation Army was able to help them with the funds needed to buy a new water heater, while other community resource agencies and FEMA grants helped cover the costs of other needed appliances. Individual corps members also took up a personal collection to provide some help to their friends in their time of need. The ministry known as Samaritan’s Purse had a team at the Frys’ home to haul away debris and items ruined in the flood, which was incredibly impactful for Dan and Sue.
The couple described this time of recovery from the flood as stressful, frustrating and crazy. However, in the midst of all the anxiety, Dan and Sue say that they found comfort from the members of their church family at The Salvation Army. “Captain Katrina really helped me when I was on the verge of losing faith,” said Dan. “Not just with directing us to resources that could help, but also in our conversations about what God is doing for us through this time.”
Sue added, “It was amazing to see how people helped us out, and that has really strengthened our faith in people and in God. We’ve been surprised to see who has helped us in unexpected ways.”
The Midland Corps Officers continue to represent The Salvation Army on the community’s Long-Term Flood Recovery team, serving on committees related to finding housing solutions for those who continue to be displaced by the floods, as well as a financial assistance committee providing grants to those in need of funds for further repairs not covered by other sources.