UPDATED 5/29/20: After 2.5 days of rain on May 17-19, rivers and reservoirs in Gladwin County overflowed and caused two problematic dams downstream to fail. This sent 21.5 billion gallons of water into Sanford, Midland, and parts of Western Saginaw County. Flooding was also recorded in Arenac and Isoco Counties. All five counties have been declared disaster areas by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Red Cross is managing the sheltering of people in both counties. Emergency Management Directors are coordinating rescue, sheltering, and beginning to work on recovery.
The North/West Lower Michigan Synod has six congregations in the affected area: Trinity and St. Timothy in Midland, Hope in Rhodes, Christ the King in Gladwin, and St. Paul in Au Gres, and Grace in East Tawas. None of the church buildings are damaged. Trinity, St. Timothy, and Christ the King have members with the most damage to their properties. The Gladwin community has over 500 damaged homes, the amount of homes and businesses damaged in Midland County could run as high as 5,000.
Pastor David Sprang, Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission, has been in contact with those working in the affected areas and Lutheran Disaster Response at the ELCA Churchwide Office in Chicago. Connections have also been made with Michigan – Voluntary Organizations Responding to Disaster, The Michigan Community Service Commission of the Michigan State Police, and both Midland and Gladwin County’s Disaster Response.
We invite you to help by donating to the North/West Lower Michigan Synod Disaster Relief Fund. Funds are being used to supply needed items for cleanup, emergency food, and support to cleanup crews. So far, the Synod has purchased personal care items, food and water for evacuees, cleanup tools, laundry and dish soap for flood victims.
Volunteer crews are welcome to come into the area to help. In Midland County volunteers can register on line and get notified when there is a need: https://unitedwaymidland.org/resources/flood-resources/
In Gladwin County volunteers report to the Volunteer Reception Center at the Billings Township Hall, 1050 Esty Rd, Beaverton 48612, 9 am – 4 pm.
Lutheran volunteer groups should contact Pastor Sprang before coming to obtain directions and a copy of the safety protocols. Right now there are no provisions to house work groups overnight.
UPDATED 5/20/20: Portions of Mid-Michigan, part of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod, have been devastated by severe flooding and dam failures due to heavy rain across the state in the last 48 hours. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for Midland Country and it is anticipated that there will be additional flooding and dam breaches.
The dam failures and breaches are located along the Tittibawasee River system, which encompasses five rivers and includes most of Mid-Michigan. These five river systems combine into one larger river, which empties into Lake Huron at Saginaw Bay. Currently, dams on two of the rivers have failed, one is breached, and two are holding but fragile. River levels have broken century-old records and floodwaters have ravaged Midland, Gladwin, Beaverton, Freeland, and the surrounding townships.
As of now, there have been no reported fatalities. At least 10,000 people have evacuated Midland and Gladwin counties. Local and state officials have declared these counties disaster areas and the National Guard and FEMA have been called to assist.
The North/West Lower Michigan Synod has six congregations in the affected area. All of the rostered leaders and church buildings are safe. The congregations are assisting their communities in a variety of ways including providing shelter and food assistance.
The North/West Lower Michigan Synod is in contact with the ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response and our synod’s Lutheran Disaster Response Coordinator, Rev. David Sprang, Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission, is working with Bishop Craig A. Satterlee to assess needs and provide assistance. We are focused on providing assistance with immediate needs as well as long term recovery efforts.
Right now, the best way to provide assistance is to donate to the North/West Lower Michigan Synod Disaster Relief Fund. All funds will be used for direct support of affected residents.