Midland-area residents wonder what's left under all the floodwaters

MIDLAND (WJRT) (5/21/2020) - As floodwaters recede, the mud left behind will become the next challenge for the Midland area.

Downtown Midland remained under several feet of water 12 hours after the Tittabawassee River crested at a record level of 35.05 feet.

The city of Midland says about 11,000 people were evacuated in less than 12 hours without a single significant injury. Officials say that is possible when residents listen to the warnings and work together.

Flood victims now are beginning to pick up the pieces and wondering what is left under all the water.

Downtown Midland was almost desolate on Thursday morning, about 12 hours after the Tittabawassee River crested at a record level of 35.05 feet. That tops the previous record of 33.9 feet set in 1986.

Amazing Deli posted a sign on the door saying they're closed until further notice without power. Another sign left an encouraging message for others, reminding them to stand strong and that they will get through this.

"It's what makes a town," said Jerry Hahnfeld, who has lived in Midland for 40 yeras. "Not just the physical nature of it. But the camaraderie and the neighborliness of the people that live here."

The past 48 hours have been unthinkable for many across Mid-Michigan. While thousands have been forced to evacuate, others are taking in what's left of downtown Midland.

"We were here for the 1986 flood and this is far beyond that," Hahnfeld said.

Crews with Three Rivers Construction returned to their work site at the H Hotel on Thursday, hoping equipment survived the standing water.

"Probably 12 inches of water down there when I was here yesterday before it had crested," said Site Manager Doug Cook. "This morning, when I was in there, I noticed that water only came up about 5 inches on the skid itself, which is probably good news because then everything may not be destroyed."

He said everyone on the construction crew pitched in when they got word of evacuations for downtown Midland on Tuesday evening.

"All the pavers that are up here, the sand -- all kind of staging area. So were in kind of in a mad dash Monday and Tuesday to get that out of there," Cook said.

Officials say clean up efforts still may not be able to take place for several more days. The water is receding and that means there is hope that things could soon get back to normal.

The city of Midland posted a message of hope on Twitter Wednesday night, saying the partnership they have with residents is helping everyone get through this historic situation.

Emerson Park in Midland was under several feet of water from the Tittabawassee River.