Midland County’s Long Term Disaster Recovery Group is working collaboratively to create a strategic system to support those impacted by the historic flooding event. Relief efforts are dynamic, evolving and will require a phased and collaborative approach.

The first phase of response was geared toward meeting basic needs like food, shelter, personal care, cleaning and other recovery items.

“An estimated $1.2 million in in-kind donations has provided a lifeline to thousands of people,” said Holly Miller, president and CEO of United Way of Midland County. “That incredible generosity is helping to stretch local dollars while meeting the critical needs of our neighbors.”

One key area identified as an emerging need is a system of support and flexible funding to help individuals and families who have been displaced from their residence due to the flood that fall outside of normal program restrictions.

The Emergency Operations Center has worked closely with the American Red Cross and other local agencies to provide non-congregate shelter for the short-term. The group is not focused on implementing longer-term solutions.

United Way of Midland County’s Rise Together Fund is designed to meet the financial and human needs of our most vulnerable citizens–those living in poverty, ALICE and the many whose life circumstances have radically changed as a result of a historic flood and global pandemic.

“Because of the flood devastation, many families have been permanently or temporarily displaced from their residences and are also facing well issues—which are huge, crucial needs,” said Miller. “United Way is putting the dollars generously invested in the Rise Together Fund to work to help vulnerable neighbors secure housing solutions and safe drinking water. This is an important step in meeting the basic needs of our community.”

Current reports show than 115 homes were destroyed and about 900 homes suffered major damage from the flood. In addition, there are approximately 25 Midland County residents reporting issues with their water wells.

United Way is investing an initial $200,000 to support short-term housing for individuals and families displaced from the flood. This includes help with security deposits, first month’s rent along with rent assistance for up to six months, based on financial need. These resources are prioritized for the ALICE population and those whose life circumstances have radically changed through this crisis.

In addition, United Way is providing up to $5,000 per household for those experiencing well water issues, also based on a demonstrated financial need in Midland County. The solutions—hooking up to City water or fixing or drilling a new well—can vary depending on each situation.

The Midland Area Community Foundation has committed to providing financial support for the additional case management. This creates vital infrastructure and a coordinated system for long-term success. The Flood Relief Fund at the Midland Area Community Foundation is helping to build critical infrastructure to help with flood recovery and rebuilding. This includes funding case managers and a construction manager as well as case management for housing needs through work with Home to Stay. In addition, the Flood Relief Fund has provided support for initial clean-up and debris removal.

“It has been inspiring and heartwarming to see the response of our community as we work together to help our neighbors recover and rebuild,” said Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of Midland Area Community Foundation,” said Mortensen. “With our emphasis on providing some of the vital supports to help our community recover, we pleased to partner on this initiative to help individuals receive the needed support through case management.”

Together, they are partnering with Home To Stay Housing Assistance Center for intake, coordination, case management and financial reporting. As Midland County’s Housing Assessment & Resource Agency (HARA), Home To Stay will conduct the initial intake and case management, leveraging state and federal supports currently available to stretch local dollars to impact the most families.

“We work on a case-by-case basis offering housing case management, housing plans that outline goals and actions along with rental assistance,” said Donna St. John, executive director of Home To Stay Housing Assistance Center. “We are proud to partner with United Way of Midland County and the Midland Area Community Foundation to provide support to help our neighbors.”

If you are struggling financially to find a solution for stable housing and/or access to a reliable water source, you are encouraged to call Home to Stay at (989) 496-9550 or simply dial 211 to be connected with this and many other vital resources.

“Rebuilding is a process that has many moving components,” said Miller. “We are grateful to the organizations, nonprofits and generous donors who have ensured these resources are available. It’s truly people helping people. United Way is built to connect those resources and caring hearts together—especially in time like this.”

For more information on flood-related resources, visit unitedwaymidland.org or reliefmidland.org.