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Michigan National Guard aids Midland amid flooding, COVID-19 response

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan National Guard units from Bay City, Port Huron, Saginaw and other nearby communities aided in evacuating residents Wednesday after massive flooding in Midland County while mitigating its COVID-19 response.

Michigan State Police requested the guard members assist Midland's Emergency Operations Center after the Edenville and Sanford dams failed, drowning the county in 35 feet of water. 

Police personnel cruise down flooded streets of Midland Wednesday.

More: Michigan town takes in flood's devastation: 'I lost it all'

More: After flood reached Dow, Superfund pollution site, regulators have yet to test water

More than 11,000 people were evacuated in 12 hours after the flooding began late Tuesday. There are 500 people in shelters and there have been no injuries from the crisis, officials said.

Using special equipment and tactical vehicles, they helped evacuate 21 people, six dogs and two cats, officials said.

The team returned Thursday to assist local first responders with door-to-door wellness checks of residents and to be sure the residents were accounted for. They also assisted by removing books from the flooded library in Midland.

Nearly 1,000 guard members are also continuing support for the ongoing pandemic.  They are assisting at food bank sites across the state, handling logistics for medical equipment and medical screening operations, and processing COVID-19 testing at the state's correction facilities.

As of Thursday, the state recorded 5,129 deaths and 53,510 cases.

The members are stationed in Midland to assist first responders with emergency planning and logistic support while they mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading. They are using face masks, social distancing and sanitizing.

"Working in partnership local first responders, the swift and effective response by the men and women of the Michigan National Guard to serve the needs of citizens impacted by these floods is another example of the guard’s integral role in our communities as dedicated public servants," said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, in a press release Friday.

"Our priorities remain the support of the State of Michigan’s response to this situation and ensuring safety as requested, along with continuing the Michigan National Guard’s vigorous response to requests for assistance in the COVID-19 fight."


Twitter: @SarahRahal_