Financial adviser Tim Holsworth woke up to news Tuesday morning that he would have to evacuate his home in Midland, Mich.
A dam upriver from the city of about 42,000 residents had failed, the result of torrential rain, eventually sending a deluge that caused another dam to be breached, raising the water level by his home as much as 15 feet, he said.
Today, he considers himself fortunate — his basement is flooded, but nearly all his neighbors sustained considerably more damage, he said.
“Most basements are flooded to the top. We have a crawl space, we got incredibly lucky,” Holsworth said. “I didn’t lose $100,000 [due to flood damage], but most of my neighbors did.”
The floods occurred after the hydroelectric Edenville Dam above Wixom Lake failed, sending a massive amount of water downstream that stressed the Sanford Dam, causing it to overflow, according to news reports. The dams were built nearly 100 years ago, and regulators had reportedly warned for decades about safety problems with the Edenville Dam.
His neighborhood “looks like a salvage yard,” he said, estimating that about 200 boats were damaged or destroyed in the area. “If you had a boat in the water or in your boat lift, you don’t anymore.”
For people already affected by the COVID-19 crisis, such natural disasters compound the financial devastation they are facing.
Holsworth, president of AHP Financial Services, has not yet heard from any clients who have been affected by the flooding, though several called him and offered a place to stay while he and his family are recovering, he said.
His office is about 40 miles away from Midland, meaning that other people on his staff were not affected and have been able to fill in, he said.
“Our office and my coworkers have picked up the slack,” he said. “We’ll see how many clients are affected.”
The bridges around Midland and surrounding towns were damaged during the flood, which severely limits transportation. The new remote-work environment in the COVID-19 world has at least prepared people to be able to work from home — if their homes are still inhabitable.
“I’ve got everything intact, so this has been a real eye-opener — the ability to work from home,” Holsworth said. “We are so much better off than literally everyone around us that we almost feel guilty.”