Mid-Michigan residents are beginning to take stock of the damage wrought by historic floods.
The small village of Sanford has just over 800 residents. It lies just upstream from Midland along the Tittabawassee River.
When the Edenville dam breached on Tuesday people were ordered to evacuate. Now, some residents and business owners are returning for the first time to survey the damage.
Connie Methner owns CJ’s Hairstyling. She said she’s been here for 34 years.
“This is a hunk of my life that I built from scratch,” she said. “I know a grown-up would say we’re going to get through this, but right now? I just want to sit down and cry all the time.”
Methner said she doesn’t’ think her building is salvageable.
“This whole town got devastated. It’s not just me. Families, businesses, fellow business owners. We all look alike when you walk in the door. Mud. Destruction. You can’t dream this up except in movie theaters.”
The inside of CJ’s Hairstyling is covered in mud and a thin layer of water. Tables and cabinets are toppled over or tipped against the wall. Methner said her coffee pots somehow managed not to crack.
She said she’s talked it over with her husband and she wants to try and bring the salon back.
“We’re going to have it taken apart and then it’ll be taken apart and then I’m going to try and put another business right back on it: hairstyling.”
Down the street from Methner, the owners of Sanford Pizza are also taking stock of what’s left of their building.
Half of one window is broken in. The remaining part still has the letters “IZZA” in bold red lettering.
Roger and Pam Riggie are sorting through muddy remains.
“This has been my life,” Roger said. “Now it’s blown right out the back of this building. Everything we own.”
Riggie said he doesn’t really know what he’ll do next.
As the Riggies are talking, one of their friends comes over holding a photo of Pam’s father, which used to hang over the cash register.
“She got her dad’s picture back,” Roger said. “Her dad died a few years ago and that picture was up in the restaurant.”
Both of the Riggies choke up after scraping mud off the old photo.
“That’s my dad,” Pam said. “It’s just so sad. Our whole frickin’ life is gone.”
The Riggies are sad for only a moment before launching into a story about the exploits of Jerry Martin, Pam’s father. At 73, Pam explained, he went skydiving.
“He was the coolest dude.”
Further down the road, Tan Siesky is taking stock of her house.
“The water was three feet on the second floor,” she said. “So there’s not a lot salvageable.”
Siesky is a renter and said her insurance agency has already told her her policy doesn’t cover floods.
“We had a couple of passers stop by earlier and they said what can we do to help. I said find out what we can do as homeowners and renters to get help if insurance doesn’t cover anything. Right now we’re so busy trying to salvage everything and get everything out we don’t have time to get on our phones and figure out to get any help.”
President Trump has approved Governor Whitmer’s request for FEMA aid. Many Sanford residents voiced their hope that some of that aid will come to them.
In the meantime though, they’ll be doing what they can to clean up.