Library staff worked overnight to raise children's materials off the bottom shelves before it got wet and the Michigan National Guard worked then to bring the materials upstairs and out of the damp air. (Photo via Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Facebook page)
Library staff worked overnight to raise children's materials off the bottom shelves before it got wet and the Michigan National Guard worked then to bring the materials upstairs and out of the damp air. (Photo via Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Facebook page)

Some 80,000 books were saved from the waterlogged Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, thanks to the Michigan National Guard.

MIDLAND, MI — The Michigan National Guard rescued 80,000 items from the basement of a Midland library that was flooded when rain swept through the area and dams failed.

“There’s no way we could have done it without them,” said Terrie Ahlers, supervisor of adult services at Grace A. Dow Memorial Library.

On-the-ground assistance began pouring into the community when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested federal aid in response to catastrophic flooding in Midland County. 

RELATED: Gov. Whitmer Demands Answers From Midland Flooding

Most books and other items in the basement are going to be OK, the Midland Daily News reported. They were placed on tables on the main floor.

Guard members had to use the stairs because the elevator was out. Library staff over the weekend focused on removing moisture from the lower level. The library is sharing updates, photos and video on Facebook.

Part 1: Hello Midland Family, I have been meaning to post this for two days. We know that the Grace A. Dow Memorial…

Posted by Grace A. Dow Memorial Library on Friday, May 22, 2020

Library-goers and community members are chiming in in the comments with messages of support and gratitude toward the National Guard, library staff, volunteers and City of Midland employees who rushed to the scene and saved the library’s collection. 

“Thank you so much for walking us through,” said one Facebook commenter. “I got to see the cases with the dolls are ok — it was one of those things I’d visit every time I went to the library growing up.” 

Indeed, the shocking imagery of empty shelves surrounded by floodwater inspired many to share memories of visiting the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library.

“Sometimes you just have to see it to believe it,” said another commenter. “Before the flood, I loved to watch the passing deer and turkeys through those windows. Who would have ever thought you would see a fish?”

Hit with this latest disaster amidst the COVID-19 crisis, library staff are resolute. 

“The community has been just wonderful. We’re going to get there. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again,” Ahlers said.

SEE: 2 Lawsuits Have Been Filed In Mid-Michigan. They Say The Flooding Was Preventable.

Their original plan was to reopen in accordance with Gov. Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe directive, but staff currently can’t say what their new timeline will look like. 

“Right now our main focus is cleaning up the youth area after the flooding and we will keep abreast of how and when we can reopen as best we can on our website and our Facebook page,” said a staff member via the library’s help line. 

The library is currently welcoming flood relief donations by mail. Donations can be mailed to: 

Friends of the Library

P.O. Box 2458 

Midland, MI 48641 

Checks or money orders can be made payable to “Friends of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library.” Please note “flood relief” in the memo line.