MIDLAND, Mich. – Instead of gathering with loved ones this Memorial Day weekend, more than 800 volunteers traveled to Midland to take part in a massive cleanup effort.
“It’s dirty, filthy muddy work, and no one who is actually working will go home today clean,” said Derrek Henrie with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Residents and businesses in Central Michigan communities were submerged when two dams failed this week.
“We had a phone call yesterday for help from a 93-year-old woman who is home alone with her daughter,” said Melissa Wall with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the midst of a pandemic volunteers from across the state descended on Midland early Saturday morning.
“I don’t cry very often. I had a hard time not choking up as those cars were pulling up. I’m asking where are you from?”
Wall says the volunteers were from communities around Metro Detroit including Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor and Westland.
“It just made my heart feel so soft and warm to ask where they were coming from and thank them for coming here,” added Wall.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spent days collecting pumps, cleaning supplies, boots, gloves and masks for volunteers.
“We’re gonna muck out the basements and get rid of the water in the mud. It’s really devastating carpet drywall furniture, personal goods, everything is just destroyed,” said Henrie.
Teams of ten are tackling 30 homes damaged after one dam failed and another overwhelmed a levee forcing thousands to evacuate.
“You got 50 miles of damage. We’ve got a small village where you can’t even access the downtown in those buildings. You’ve got that to an inch of water,” said Wall.
Michiganders dealing with the pandemic are coming together to help families who have lost everything.
“We’re taught that we should go and serve others. And we’re quickly seeing that others are joining us,” said Bishop Monte Searle with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
HOW TO HELP
There are a several nonprofits helping those impacted by the flooding. If you would like to volunteer with the church, click here.