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One year ago, a 500-year flood swallowed Mid-Michigan

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Posted at 4:16 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 16:16:21-04

MIDLAND, Mich. — Multiple dams breached May 19, 2020, on the Tittabawassee River.

It left downtown Sanford Michigan with most businesses destroyed.

Many homeowners in nearby Midland had water in their homes, despite never having had flooding before.

Sanford Lake is now more like a small stream, surrounded by dirt and grass growing where the water once was.

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Still, the people who call this place home all say the same thing: the community lost a lot. But they didn't lose a single life.

“What a miracle. I tell you, for the first three days, when we were cleaning up mud, I kept asking people. Not if anybody died. I kept asking how many people died. I thought there would be hundreds,” Sanford business owner Dennis Sian said.

Dennis Sian lost his hardware store he started in 2000 in Sanford. The rushing water from the breached Sanford Dam took his business, but not for long.

A few weeks after his store closed, he set up a temporary shop. The bank helped him get a new loan. Just a year later, he opened his brand new store last week Thursday.

“You just couldn’t ask for a better community,” Sian said.

A community that loved the lifelong Sanford resident so much, they showed up by the dozens to help with clean up and drove 20 miles to support Sian's other hardware store in nearby Clare.

“They could have just went 10 miles to Midland,” Sian said.

In Midland, the Tittabawassee River crested at its highest ever, 35 feet.

FOX 17 talked to Courtney Cannon the day of the flood, and a year later.

She's still dealing with the problems created by the water to this day. Flood insurance policies didn't work out. The money they would get from the principal on their home was a small amount and came with too many stipulations for it to be worth it for Courtney and her family.

“We all did it by ourselves. That’s why it's not done,” Cannon said.

So while the damage done by the water came in an evening, the mess remains a year later.