“Heroes and Hand Raisers” is a new series created by United Way of Midland County in partnership with Midland Daily News. Each week, snapshots of volunteerism and human generosity—via quotes, photos, snippets and stories—will shine a spotlight on those who are impacting our community by raising their hand to help meet the needs of their neighbors.

On Tuesday, May 19, our quiet and peaceful communities—along with the lives of many area residents—were drastically altered when structures around the Edenville and Sanford dams gave way after two days of relentless rain.  While several Corteva Agriscience employees worked to make sure that facilities in the Midland I-Park were safely shut down, many more were packing up some of their most important belongings as quickly as possible to evacuate for safety, as news of dams breaching was shared. Corteva leaders were aware that hundreds of employees and their families were at risk of the waters reaching their homes. Once the site was secure, a Corteva Community Support Team was rapidly formed to manage the needs of our co-workers, their families and the community.

The newly-formed team worked to call all employees to make sure that everyone was safe and to determine who required help and what they needed. Over the course of three days, all affected employees were accounted for and their needs were compiled, ranging from cleaning supplies and PPE to meals to safe overnight lodging and long-term housing. A Facebook group—now with more than 170 members—was created to enhance emails that were being sent looking for volunteers to assist in moving debris out of homes and yards, cleaning basements and making bagged lunches at the Corteva Michigan Office and Health Center to deliver to work crews.

Dozens of meals were made or purchased from local restaurants. Over 50 volunteers put in more than 300 hours of work to assist 20 of our most affected employees and their families.  The Community Support Team felt that their mission was accomplished three weeks after flooding hit the Midland community.

Once the emergency needs for employees had been met, continued employee and community assistance efforts was transferred to the established Partnerships committee, which works with the community and United Way of Midland County to deploy volunteers as needed.

Flood relief efforts are still underway, and the team continues to use the new Facebook page to share volunteer opportunities when they exist as employees shift from clean-up efforts to the long process of repairing and rebuilding their homes and lives.

While news of flooding in Midland hit the national news, colleagues, suppliers and other business partners from around the country reached out to see how they could help. It was decided that the needs of our Midland employees were being met by the support team, so any financial assistance that could be shared should be focused to United Way of Midland County and surrounding communities.  The leaders of Corteva issued a match challenge: the company would match $100,000 in donations to United Way of Midland County’s flood relief efforts. It took only seven days to reach that goal, with $31,000+ of employee donations combining with other corporate and endowment donations. In total, $105,350 was raised for United Way of Midland County.

There were so many heroes in our community during the flood disaster and Corteva employees were proud to help play a part in the recovery of their community and neighbors.