Residents assessing storm damage along the Saginaw Bay

BANGOR TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (04/16/18) - People who live at a Bay County mobile home community consider themselves lucky after a strong storm blew through over the weekend.

They witnessed wind, snow, ice and rising flood waters.

"When we moved here four years ago we were told that it happens maybe once every 20, 25 years. So having it happen twice in two years is, is pretty surprising," said Jillian Gage who lives in Wenonah Beach Estates along the Saginaw Bay.

Gage and her husband carefully watched as the water rose.

"We thought the fence was going to hold," Gage thought as she watched an old tree move along the shore. "Looked like it was going to go right past our house, and instead it went right into our fence."

Jillian Gage and her husband were ready this time around. They reinforced the skirting under their home and it held up, but many of their neighbors weren't as lucky.

"All their sheeting is completely gone," Gage said.

The Gages decided to ride out the storm, but some of their neighbors couldn't do it.

"We basically went door to door to evacuate, you know, as many people as we could," said Captain Mike Royer with the Bangor Township Fire Department.

Royer said the fire department had to call in off-duty firefighters to help Saturday morning. Fourteen firefighters responded to the mobile home park.

They ended up evacuating eight people and several pets from this mobile home community, using their rescue vehicles, and eventually a new military vehicle from the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

One of the fire department's vehicles is now in the shop after using it to rescue people who were stranded.

"Backed it up to the porches to be able to evacuate people," Royer said.

The sheriff's office used the MRAP, or Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, for the first time over the weekend.

"For a lack of better terms, it's a big safe on wheels. It's just something that we have that if we have to get out to the public, if we have a problem like we did this weekend with the flooding or something, it allows us to get into areas that our other cars can not get in to," said Sheriff Troy Cunningham.

The MRAP is much higher off the ground than regular vehicles.

Sheriff Cunningham says that makes it ideal for situations like the severe weather this weekend.

Because it's on loan from the military, having the MRAP doesn't cost them anything.

The paint and body work it's required has been donated by local businesses, and it's ready for serious situations like flooding and other police situations.

"We've had some pin downs where officers have been shot before that we haven't been able to get to without armor. This is completely armored, so we can get to those officers. Or if there's something going on in an area where there's gunfire or something, we can get to the residents of Bay County and safely get them evacuated out of their homes," Cunningham said.

The MRAP came in handy this weekend during a weather event that many agree had the potential to be much worse.

"I think we dodged a bullet here," Royer said.

"One percent of the time to 99 percent of the time, yeah, you can't beat the view. It's beautiful here, we love it," Gage said.

The fire department reports no one was hurt this weekend.

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