Surrounding communities jump to fill urgent needs for Midland County flood victims

While the debris and wet furniture have started being cleared from curbs around Midland, for some that lost a majority of their belongings and existence, life is still far from normal.

Many have relied on the relief centers around the community for critical supplies.

Recently, Bridgette Gransden, Midland County Administrator and Controller and Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance Board Member, helped to identify what the ongoing and immediate needs were in Midland County after the flood. Many items in high demand were basic needs like toiletries.

With that in mind, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance put out the call on May 27 for the need for additional supplies to help families and those impacted by flooding in Midland County.

In a matter of hours, numerous donations from surrounding communities poured in.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and volunteers at the Dow aviation hangar dropping materials off for distribution.

In just two short days and through organic efforts, Midland’s local community neighbors, businesses and organizations extended support for some of the community’s most immediate needs – to the tune of $10,000. All support went to help people impacted by the flooding, with support of supplies, personal care items and box fans for helping dry out homes.

“In a very short amount of time, our community helped to fill a very urgent and niche need for Midland County,” says Matt Felan, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.

Most donated funds, but others like The H Hotel in Midland donated available resources, like much of the hotel’s stock in small soap bars and hair care.

On May 29, Felan and his team showed up at Meijer on Tittabawassee in Saginaw with $5,000 to spend on donations of personal care items and other supplies.

Not wanting to overwhelm the store with that large of a purchase and also wanting to make the effort flow as efficiently as possible, the Alliance spoke with store director Aaron Stallings and he and his staff helped pull items in bulk from the back.  

Stallings helped coordinate the large purchase and donated $500 on behalf of Meijer on the spot. Several employees at the store also donated funds toward the effort when they heard what was being done.

Between what Meijer and the store employees donated, Felan and his team of volunteers had a bit more to spend, a true, simple and neighborly way to help.

Rob Clark, Director of Communications and Community Relations for Michigan Sugar Company, spoke about the company wanted to step in and help.

Rob Clark and Matt Felan with the donations provided by Michigan Sugar Company.

“When the Alliance put out a call for toiletries, we knew we wanted to get involved. It was a simple and meaningful way to help our neighbors get through these trying times,” says Clark.

Michigan Sugar has multiple growers in Midland County, and as an essential business, the company has been operating during COVID-19, while many others have been shut down.

“We’ve been fortunate to remain operational over the last several months and we hope that it was a small gesture with significant meaning for those impacted,” says Clark. “Midland County is an important part of our footprint. We encourage others to do the same, and we know many local businesses are just beginning to reopen.”

Once sorted, all materials went to the Dow aviation hangar, which is being used as a holding station for supplies before they are distributed to the eight aid centers around Midland County.

Through the effort Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance received donations from Ag Community Relief, Clements Electric, Covenant Hospital, First State Bank, Garber Management Group, Herman Hiss, The H Hotel, Jolt Credit Union, Michigan Sugar Company, Middle Michigan Development Corporation Public Affairs Associates, Meijer on Tittabawssee in Saginaw and many more individual donations. Support came from Bay, Saginaw and Isabella counties.

“What ended up being great about this effort, was it was an opportunity for Bay, Saginaw, and Isabella counties to show up for Midland and provide community support for those in the region,” says Felan. “I was absolutely blown away by the numerous examples of generosity, from businesses, or organizations, and even employees at Meijer in Saginaw who donated while they helped us box up supplies.”

Neither representatives from Meijer or Midland County were available for comment.

If you or someone you know would like to contribute to ongoing relief efforts in Midland County, visit some of the following resources:
United Way of Midland County Rise Together Fund
United Way of Midland County Flood Relief Volunteer Opportunities
Midland Area Community Foundation Flood Relief Project Fund

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Courtney Soule.

Courtney is a longtime Midland resident and enjoys telling the story of the community's evolution. She ran Catalyst Midland as the publication's managing editor from October 2017 through September 2020. Her favorite topics are interesting people, change makers, outdoor recreation and design. Aside from Catalyst, her published work can be found various places including Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog and a number of other websites, papers, menus and the occasional one-liner.