In May 2020, many of us watched in horror as the news unfolded: Heavy rains and poor upkeep caused a series of dams in Midland County to fail, resulting in catastrophic chain flooding of Secord Lake, Smallwood Lake, Wixom Lake, and then Sanford Lake, all of which were let loose. The lakes were drained in a matter of hours and 10,000 people evacuated. In the aftermath, 2,000 homes were lost or destroyed, and countless residents remain in litigation limbo. With little to no financial support, many homeowners, some with generations of history in the area, have been forced to abandon their properties or remain in hopes that someday, they will be able to have their lakefront restored.
Amidst so much chaos and overwhelming devastation, there are those who have committed themselves to supporting their community and working tirelessly to pursue restitution and rebuilding. Professor of English Crystal Starkey is one such leader. Crystal grew up on Sanford Lake and is now raising her own family there. She had previously served for eight years on the Edenville Township Board of Review and is now engaged in doing all she can to help others by serving as a Trustee on the Edenville Township Board and as a member of the Edenville Township Planning Commission.
Additionally, Crystal is contributing her writing expertise by assisting the Vice President of Four Lakes Task Force (4LTF) with their grant efforts. “The dollars they are pursuing are much larger than anything I’ve been able to garner in the past,” Crystal says, “so I put the 4LTF in touch with the grant consultant for the Michigan Township Association. Both of these guys are highly skilled, so I am beyond thrilled to be able to work with them on such an important issue.”
Crystal continues volunteering her time, as she explains, “I do this work because what happened was unfathomable and unfair and awful…all due to greed and neglect. It stirred something in me, you know?”
For more information about how to support the Sandford and Wixom Lake communities, visit Four Lake Task Force. https://www.four-lakes-taskforce-mi.com/