Bishop David Bard has called for prayer for those impacted by the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR) flood and has activated the Michigan Disaster Response Ministry team. On May 19, 2020, following days of heavy rain in the GLBR, which includes the city of Midland, village of Sanford and Edenville, and areas of Tittabawassee Township, Thomas Township, and Saginaw Township, multiple dams failed causing historic flooding and the evacuation of 10,000 persons. Michigan’s Governor issued an Emergency Declaration and has sent in the National Guard. The river is not expected to crest for days and may place the some areas under 9 feet of water.
The Michigan Disaster Response Ministry team is currently assessing the situation and coordinating with local, state and federal agencies. They are also in communications with UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief to request an emergency grant. The Disaster Response Ministry team asks local churches and individuals to remain patient as critical needs are determined and directed. First responders will need to fully complete rescue and recovery missions and secure areas before trained UMC Emergency Response Teams can enter to offer assistance.
The Michigan Conference has provided disaster response in this region before. In June 2017, seven inches of rain fell in Midland, Isabella and Bay counties impacting 2500 homes. UMCOR acted in partnership with The Michigan Conference and Midland County offering cleaning buckets dispatched from the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Illinois. That was followed by a $100,000 UMCOR grant to hire two caseworkers who assisted 103 households. That recovery work concluded in 2018.
Bishop Bard was working on a pastoral response to the coronavirus pandemic when word reached him that the Great Lakes Bay Region was expecting massive flooding. “Turning on the news to see the pictures of the waters raging and rising took my breath away. One crisis on top of another.” said Bishop Bard. “The hearts of all Michigan United Methodists go out to the people of the area, as do our prayers.” He added, “I am grateful for Michigan Conference staff and volunteers who are already working on helping the United Methodist Church respond to this disaster.”
For those wishing to donate to Great Lakes Bay Region flood victims, checks may be sent to the Michigan Conference at 1161 East Clark Road, Suite 212, DeWitt MI 48820. It is important to include this exact language in the memo: #4407 Michigan Area Disaster Response. Give online here. Local churches can begin to gather materials for flood buckets and hygiene kits. Disaster Response Coordinator Dan O’Malley says COVID-19 has created the need to include additional personal safety items like face masks. The new list will be posted to the disaster response donate page this week. Pick up and transport locations are being finalized and will also be available.
Incoming Central Bay District Superintendent John Kasper noted how district pastors and congregations are caring for each other during this difficult times. “It is heartwarming to see the offers of prayer, help, and encouragement, especially to those most directly affected by the flooding,” he said. “I trust our pastors and churches that are directly in the path of the flood will be sustained by the love and support that is lifted up on their behalf.”