GLADWIN COUNTY – After historic rains and flooding in what is being referred to as a “500-year event” including the breach of the Edenville Dam last Tuesday (May 19) that nearly emptied Wixom Lake and a majority of Sanford Lake, residents are struggling to deal with the aftermath.

On Friday, May 22, Scott Govitz from Mid Michigan College and the Beaverton Downtown Development Authority (DDA) organized a Zoom meeting for local community leaders and residents to develop a donation and funding strategy to support the residents in Gladwin County who have been affected by the flooding. 

In the meeting, Emily Schafer from the Midland Area Community Foundation had mentioned that she had already made contact with Terry Brokoff from the Gladwin County Community Foundation (GCCF) about establishing a relief fund in order to begin allocating donations for flood victims. Part of what began the process of creating the fund was a $3,000 to $5,000 donation from Consumers Energy toward the cause. 

An online donation service was established shortly after the meeting as an extension to the GCCF website at reliefgladwin.org for any and all to donate as much or as little as they are willing to the cause. This website URL is specifically for the Gladwin County Flood Relief Fund. Those looking to donate over the phone are able to do so by calling the Midland Area Community Foundation at 989-839-9661.

According to Emily Schafer, when making monetary donations through the GCCF website, it is important for contributors to specify who and what they are making the donation toward. This information can be provided in the ‘special note or request’ section of the online form. 

“The Community Foundation Fund can provide the vehicle to receive the funds, and then that’s where we would work with the Mid Michigan Community Action Agency (MMCAA) who already have programs and initiatives in place to be able to give to individuals directly,” Emily said. 

With the funding going through the community foundation, there is a greater likelihood of having matching donations from local foundations as opposed to allocating the money another way. 

Sarah Kile of 211 in Gladwin County provided information on how her non-profit organization is connecting residents with the appropriate contacts to address any questions, concerns or needs they have. As an example, calling 211 is a requirement for Gladwin County residents who have property damage or have been directly impacted by the flooding to register their situation according to a press release from Gladwin County Emergency Management. Homeowners and Business owners are also being asked by the county clerk to visit https://arcg.is/10ab1j to complete an online self-reporting damage survey. 

“The role of 211 is to get information referrals to people so that they’re not dialing 911 or dialing a bunch of places,” Sarah said. “We send quite a few people to [MMCAA], in the past two days, we’ve taken 52 flood related calls; in context, last month in April we took 100 total calls for Gladwin County.” 

According to Sarah, a majority of the calls 211 has received have been from residents reporting their damages. However, she believes that in the coming weeks, people will transition from the shock of their disaster damage to a need for basic and necessary supplies and that 211 will be there to connect those people with what they need. 

The Knights of Columbus Hall has been established as a distribution drop off point for goods people are willing to donate. Many locals have made individual donations as well as larger businesses and organizations such as Meijer who donated a semi-truck of food and supplies and Nestle who had reached out about donating water to those in need.  

Forge Fitness in Gladwin has set up a donation drive for flood victims. The Gladwin City-County Transit has supplied a bus for the delivery of collected supplies. Tiffany Greenman of Forge Fitness says just about everything is needed and that “if you use it every day, people need it.” For those who need supplies, clothes, food, cleaning products, hygiene products, Forge Fitness has items available. 

According to a press release from the county clerk, a distribution and collection center will be established in the parking lot of Forge Fitness. The center will be open to serve community residents and to collect donations from Wednesday, May 27 through Friday, May 29. The center’s hours of operation will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Additional dates and times will be added based on need.

The Gladwin Church of the Nazarene has organized a group of individuals who are helping with damaged property and eliminating potential threats to housing structures. Pastor Martin Hodge has been meeting with the group at the church each morning at 9 a.m. to assist homeowners who are facing flood damage. 

“We need tools, we need water,” Martin said. “More people are the main thing, because a lot of it is pulling stuff out of the homes. We’ve been ripping out drywall and tearing up carpet to get it out because mold is going to start setting in pretty soon if it doesn’t get pulled out.”

The more time and supplies that are donated to the group, the more work will get done; especially as they work in temperatures climbing up to 86 degrees over the weekend. 

A list of all able volunteers has been created by the Emergency Operations Center for various groups and individuals to have access to in order to  receive the support they need. For those interested in being added to the list of volunteers, a phone line will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 989-720-4901. Interested volunteers may also call 211, which is available 24/7 in order to make themselves available. Volunteers are also being supplied with personal protective equipment in order to be properly equipped in accordance with the Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Order. 

A Gladwin County Emergency Management press release states that Gladwin County residents in need of shelter may contact The Springs at 616-894-0494; those in need of food, clothing, or toiletries may call Tiffany with Forge Fitness at 989-424-1689; bottled water may be obtained at the Billings Township Fire Department at 1050 Estey Road, Beaverton; and for those who have lost medication due to the flood, they may contact Red Cross at 517-313-3962.

As of Sunday, May 24, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is conducting a virtual survey of the damage in Gladwin County and their damage assessment teams are working.

“We’re flying blind here, but we’re doing what we know,” said Scott Govitz.

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