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Former Algonquin College President faces 500-year flood during pandemic in Michigan
OTTAWA -- The state of Michigan is contending with a historic flood during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A 500-year-flood, and a 100-year pandemic, all mixed up in one,” says Kent MacDonald, former President of Algonquin College. MacDonald is now the President of Northwood University in Michigan.
The flood has hit the city of Midland, Michigan especially hard, as rainfall combined with two dams failing has caused the Tittabawasee River to flood the city.
“We had about five hours to evacuate… We turned the lights off at the university and walked off the campus at 8 p.m. The water came in really heavily a couple of hours later, flooded all of downtown Midland - a beautiful downtown area,” says MacDonald.
He’s looking after the campus, while evacuated from his own home.
“I just looked at the home now, the basement is full of water, the main floor has not been touched.”
Along with thousands of others. The National Guard has been called in to deliver supplies and transport survivors to evacuation sites — all while trying to stay safe during a pandemic.
“I couldn’t sleep at all last night, probably because of wearing that face mask — you’re supposed to wear it, they have signs in there to wear it, but there’s still some in there that aren’t wearing it,” says one man.
Another evacuee, explains while wearing a mask,
“I try and wash my hands, and use hand sanitizer, but I really have a high level of fear.”
The flooding has impacted a Dow Chemical Plant, which is also located in Midland.
In a statement on the company’s website, they write:
“It was confirmed there were flood waters commingling with an on-site pond used for storm water and brine system/groundwater remediation.”
The company says that the floodwater does not create any threat, and chemicals at the plant are secure.
Floodwaters have begun to recede at the Northwood University Campus, and MacDonald is hopeful that they will re-open in August, just in time for the fall semester.
“Ottawa has been through this a couple of times and came out stronger for it, and I think Midland will as well.”