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What It Is Like To Be Evacuated During The Flooding In Michigan


All right. Well, let's head to Midland, Mich., now. As we just heard, that is the area hit by devastating flooding. This week when water breached two nearby dams, thousands of people had to evacuate as water overtook their neighborhoods and their homes. One of them was Dawn Porter, who fled with her husband, three kids and a dog. She returned home yesterday, plowing through water several feet high in the family's truck. Some families haven't managed to get inside their homes yet. Well, this afternoon, I called Porter over FaceTime so she could show me around the neighborhood. There was no rain in sight.

DAWN PORTER: It's really pretty out today, which is good and bad (laughter).

KELLY: It's a sunny day, yeah.

PORTER: Yeah, it's beautiful. I think we're all just kind of dumbfounded. I talked to a friend today. They had 6 feet of water, and they're just down the block. Friends that we know have water up to their second level. And then there's some houses that were washed away, also. So this is our home here.

KELLY: Lovely house. Looking at a brick house.

PORTER: We're pumping it out right now.

KELLY: Porter and her husband had hooked up this big blue hose to try to clear some of the floodwater from the basement. We headed inside, and she showed me around.

PORTER: With our basement, we actually stopped the pump in the middle of the night, and it had risen to about 6 to 8 inches.

KELLY: All right. Here we are rounding the corner down. I see the basement stairs. Yeah. I see water. I'm so sorry.

PORTER: And so we have a floating basement, so it looks dry until I step on it. And now I feel like I'm walking on Mars.

KELLY: You're walking across floorboards and they are - they're...

PORTER: Floating.

KELLY: ...Sloshing beneath you?

PORTER: Yeah. But here's our floorboard. So it's about a foot.

KELLY: About a foot up.

PORTER: We saved quite a few things. But you know, there's still a lot of things that are just ruined. Here's our bathroom.

KELLY: Oh, leaves in your shower.

PORTER: Oh, yeah.

KELLY: I mean, what's usually down there? What did you lose?

PORTER: You know, the kids' toys are down there. I have a craft room, pool table, workout room. Yesterday, our freezer - we have a small freezer - that was working, and then it was floating today.

KELLY: It must feel like dealing with the coronavirus was already a crisis. Does this feel just like one thing after another?

PORTER: You know, I feel numb today. And it's really emotional. So - you know, I think I worry more about the people who have lost it all. I spoke with a neighbor who has done this twice already. We had a flood in 2017. And she's like, I can't do this again. And I understand. I mean, they had like 6 feet of water.

KELLY: Yeah.

PORTER: I mean, how do you prepare for this next time? I mean, you think you're more prepared. We bought a pump. We bought - we have generators. We're just going to move forward. We're going to clean this up. And you know, hopefully we can rebuild.

KELLY: So what do you think these next few months look like? This has been a hard, hard spring.

PORTER: I don't know. I'm not certain of where that - where that's going to take us yet. I mean, the people who are already suffering are offering to help. I mean, that says a lot about the city of Midland. I think it's just going to be a lot of work. I don't think anybody here is ready to give up, you know? You know, some people have had to walk away because the water just keep on rising. But I think that it's just going to - we're going to rebuild. And I think that's what's going to take all summer.

KELLY: Well, I wish you all the best of luck.

PORTER: Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking this time out today.

KELLY: That's Dawn Porter talking to us from her home in Midland, Mich. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.