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Michigan National Guard is helping in Midland-area flood relief

Two members of the Michigan National Guard approach Sanford resident Tan Siesky's house as they help residents in recovery efforts while surveying the damage throughout the village's downtown on Thursday, May 21, 2020 in Sanford.

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By HEATHER JORDAN | MLive.com, Walker, Mich. | Published: May 22, 2020

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MIDLAND, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — Members of the Michigan National Guard are assisting area emergency personnel with flood response in and around Midland County this week while simultaneously assisting with COVID-19-related missions throughout the state.

Michigan National Guard Capt. Andrew Layton, deputy state public affairs officer, said about 200 Michigan National Guard members responded to what experts have called a 500-year flood event in mid-Michigan this week. At the same time, the guard has about 1,000 members responding to COVID-19 related missions throughout the state, including helping with testing and food bank efforts.

Members are being dispatched throughout the region as needed. Many of the guard members activated are involved with emergency planning and logistics support to the area, as well, he said.

Early Wednesday morning, May 20, about 130 members were dispatched to Midland where they assisted area first responders with evacuating people from their homes, Layton said, and more members arrived throughout the day. On Thursday, May 21, members conducted door-to-door welfare checks and helped evacuate books from the main floor of Midland’s Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. The library was damaged by flooding.

Layton said many of the members who responded to mid-Michigan this week are residents of the area. They are “Michiganders helping Michiganders,” he said.

“The Michigan National Guard is a support agency and we work with the state police and other first responders. Our mission and our role is to respond as requested,” Layton said.

Selina Tisdale, community affairs director for the city of Midland, said on Thursday Midland received help from the Michigan Army National Guard 1-1225 Infantry and 119 Field Artillery Units. Approximately 50 members were in Midland County assisting with transportation, delivering shelter materials, deep water access, wellness checks and saving library books, she said.

“We’d also like to recognize the Michigan Task Force One that deployed 20 members to Midland County,” Tisdale said. “They are a state asset — a FEMA approved deployment team that provides response assistance to emergencies. They showed up with five boats and assisted with water rescue.”

When asked how long the guard will remain in Midland County, Layton replied, “That goes back to the coordination on the ground with the other community agencies and I think, again, we’ll evaluate the need and however long it’s required, they’ll be there.”

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